There are three things I remembered about Johnny Gill during his 1990 run as that dude in R&B.
- I thought he kind of looked like Dominique Wilkins
- He was the newest member of New Edition
- He had the oddest dance moves I had ever seen at that time. I mean the shimmy he did was so odd, it was like he wasn’t around a mirror at when perfecting that shit
Outside of Bobby Brown and unknown to the average New Edition fan at the time Johnny Gill was the more successful member post break up of the group. Many would have invested in Ralph Tresvant back then because the theory has always been the lead vocalist goes on to have a good to great career when they leave the group. With New Edition that really didn’t happen and after hearing the self titled Johnny Gill album I came away wishes there were more “Boys To Men” moments of the Heart Break album. Johnny Gill was hot in 1990 and it’s just crazy how fast he caught on to not just my peers but to an older audience as well. Most of that came from he voice and the ballets he had.
“Rub You The Right Way” sets the album off and it was the first single and where I first saw that crazy ass shimmy he had on lock. The New Jack Swing sound fit for this song and to make this introduction to Johnny Gill, I liked the remix that featured a then unknown CL Smooth. One thing I do kinda of miss on radio is how you could really tell how good or great an album was by the number of singles and videos they had. Four out of the first six songs were major singles while other songs popped up on HOV (Hampton University radio station) during their slow jam slot. The midtempo music like “Wrap My Body Tight” and “Fairweather Friend” really went over well with listeners. “Wrap My Body Tight” was the appetizer to “My, My, My” if you ask me. That song single handedly put Gill over the top in the who had the better solo career among his N.E. brethrens. “My, My, My” was the closer on Entertainment Tonight one time. You couldn’t go through a slow jam mix in the 90’s without that song being on it.
The album isn’t bad but the fillers sound more like experimentations to see how Johnny Gill voice would sound over different sounds. Yeah “Rub You The Right Way” worked as a New Jack Swing type song but “Never Know Love” doesn’t work at all. Hearing it makes me think the beat was faster and it was slowed down because Gill voice wouldn’t have came off right if it stayed fast. The other slow jams don’t compare to “My, My, My” at but some do hold their own. “Just Another Lonely Night” and “Feels So Better” are worth a listen and that’s about it. It could be the female background singers that make these songs work and when it comes to “Just Another Lonely Night” is a good song because it comes off like a knock off Luther Vandross minus the cool ass bridges and climatic breakdowns Luther Vandross songs were known for. “Let’s Spend The Night” sounds like a prequel to “My, My, My” where Johnny Gill gets to test his range with his voice. It’s not a bad song just sound like a practice song, a warm up, a tune up song to get in record mode not an actual song. It sounds so bland.
Johnny Gill is a great album and it was a good starting point for how good music, slow songs in general, in the 90’s would become. Again “My, My, My” is the reason this album was even picked up and it also helped put adult music by younger singers back in the mix. If you love New Edition and those who were members of the group this is the best solo album outside of Don’t Be Cruel.