Category Archives: 1984

New Edition – New Edition

New Edition
New Edition
July 6, 1984
MCA RecordsUMG
073/100
New Edition - New Edition
1. Cool It Now // 2. Mr. Telephone Man // 3. I’m Leaving You Again // 4. Baby Love // 5. Delicious // 6. My Secret (Didja Get It Yet?) // 7. Hide & Seek // 8. Lost In Love // 9. Kind of Girls We Like  // 10. Maryann

New Edition jumped ship from Maurice Starr’s Warlock Records to major label MCA Records as soon as they got the chance, which was both the only logical next step in NE’s career, since there was perhaps more star potential in the group than a small indie label could manage, and a complete bitch-move, because Starr had put the boys on big time.

The new label and producers however cannot be accused of being unfaithful to Starr’s vision of pushing a rebooted, contemporary Jackson 5 to the masses, especially on the uptempo hit singles Cool It Now and Mr. Telephone Man on which Jacksons-esque vocal harmonies are combined with synthy ’80s post-disco and rapping, which had just been invented at the time but was steady on the rise in becoming a thing.

Although post-disco electro-pop dominates the record there is also decent quiet storm efforts such as I’m Leaving You Again and Lost In Love, and even a sort of Kool and the Gang-esque disco-doo wop hybrid with a saucy sax solo called Maryann, closing the album. New Edition sounds as though it could just as well have been released on Dick Griffey’s SOLAR records.

While Cool It Now remains every bit as much breezy dancefloor fun as it must have been when it initially hit the charts, the Ray Parker, jr.-helmed (of the Ghostbusters theme-fame)  Mr. Telephone Man sounds a lot more dated, both because of the outdated technology that its pun revolves around, and because of its quaint conceptual songwriting itself. It’s still a good song, but you can pretty much carbon date it to it’s release date as a single in late november ’84, using nothing but common sense.

Some of the other sounds, such as Baby Love, which has an instrumental that summons the mental image of the dramatic opening-credits sequence of a bad ’80s cop movie, are also going to be helpful when the archaeologists are digging this up, kinda like I’m doing now.

The occasional loss of lyrical relevance or overdramatic musical backing aside though, New Edition, like its predecessor Candy Girl is some terrific teen-pop stuff. Catchy, clean, somewhat modestly produced and sweet without being unnecessarily corny, well sung, well written and with ten tracks (together clocking at 43:13 minutes) not overstaying its welcome.

Compared to Candy Girl New Edition is a lot more slick and polished, which is to be expected when you go from an indie label like Warlock to a major one like MCA. It also sounds more varied, which can attributed to the use of multiple songwriters/ producers rather than Candy Girl‘s monolithic Maurice Starr-helmed musical backing. It also helps that this album sounds more like a group effort that their debut, with Bobby Brown snagging a lead from absolute alpha male Ralph Tresvant on Hide and Seek, everybody popping up somewhere on this record rapping or singing, and the whole group getting some shine together on Mr. telephone ManKind of Girls We Like and Maryann, as well as the group’s own compositions making it to the cut, and sounding just as good as the mterial the corporate songwriters brought them.

New Edition is some terrific pop music and deserves a revisit.

Best tracks
Cool It Now
Mr. Telephone Man
Hide and Seek
Lost In Love
Maryann

Recommendations
Pick this one up.

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Johnny Gill & Stacey Lattisaw – Perfect Combination

Johnny Gill & Stacey Lattisaw
Perfect Combination
February 27, 1984
Cotillon Records/ Atlantic RecordsWMG
055/100
Johnny Gill & Stacey Lattisaw - Perfect Combination
1. Block Party // 2. Fun And Games // 3. Falling In Love Again // 4. 50/50 Love // 5. Perfect Combination // 6. HeartBreak Look // 7. Baby It’s You // 8. Come Out of the Shadows

Johnny Gill’s debut album hadn’t sold very well or provided the charts with any hits (the internet provides no clues of the opposite being true), so the people of Cotillon/ Atlantic records decided to put him in the studio with proven success and labelmate Stacey Lattisaw (Wikipedia says they were childhood friends as well, believe what you will) to pimp him to her fanbase and to create a cute teeny 1980s update of a Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell duet album (although those two things are actually one and the same thing.)

That this album isn’t  as horrible as that description makes it sound is largely to thank the vocalists for, Johnny with his singing that sounded like it belonged to a man twice his age, and miss Lattisaw sounding capable and confident beyond her years as well, but to a lesser extent (they were both seventeen when they dropped this).

The sound is fine for those who enjoy this particular brand of queso (not me.). The midtempo cuts sound like store brand imitations of SOLAR Records svengali Leon Sylvers III’s post-disco electro-pop jams. (Shalamar’s A Night To Remember, Lakeside’s Fantastic Voyage, Dynasty’s Midas Touch et al.) and the ballads sound like they are rejects from the An Officer and a Gentleman soundtrack.
That’s not to say anything sounds horrible, in fact the songwriting itself puts most of today’s R&B music to shame in it’s ability to choose a subject/ concept and stick to it, and this Naranda Michael Walden guy seems at least adequate in putting together a record, but that is not to say you should give a fuck.

That the best thing on here is a cover of an old Shirelles song, previously covered by the Beatles, written by Burt Bacharach is telling about the songwriting. Kinda how Johnny’s debut‘s best song was a cover of an old Sam & Dave song written by Isaac Hayes.

Best tracks
Perfect Combination
Baby It’s You

Recommendations
Don’t bother.


Run-D.M.C. – Run-D.M.C.

Run-D.M.C.
Run-D.M.C.
March 27, 1984
Profile Records/ Arista Records/ SME

090/100
RUN DMC - RUN DMC

1. Hard Times // 2. Rock Box // 3. Jam-Master-Jay // 4. Hollis Crew (Krush-Groove 2) // 5. Sucker M.C.’s (Krush-Groove 1) // 6. It’s Like That // 7. Wake Up // 8. 30 Days // 9. Jay’s Game

Usually Bonkers writes about Hip Hop and Rap. Given He’s more into Ja Rule I’ll write about this iconic trio. Besides I wouldn’t want to trade with him. The Ja Rule/Murder Inc. stream of … was too much of a nuisance for my tastes even as a teen. Enough about that rubbish.

Run-D.M.C. consisted of Reverend Run a.k.a. Joey Simmons, D.M.C. a.k.a. Darryl McDaniels and Jam Master Jay a.k.a. Jason Mizell. Run’s brother Russell (Rick Rubin’s partner in founding Def Jam, early eighties) suggested Joey to work with a Darryl as partner MCs and after finishing high school Jason joined the two in 1982. Run DMC was complete and in 1983 It’s like that/Sucker M.C.’s saw the light of day. The first singles introduced a whole new sound to hip-hop. A RUN-D.M.C. song typically consisted of rapping over big sparse beats, minimal compositions, guitars shredding and Jam Master Jay showcasing his turntable skills. It was a total departure from the oversampled Soul and Disco driven sound best exemplified in Rappers Delight. Gone with the slick, in with the raw new sound. Run DMC’ new approach to Hip Hop influenced many contemporary rap artists, but it also had a cross-genre influence, felt also the Rock and Industrial scene. Skinny Puppy’s Pro-Test is a great example.

I press play and prepare, Hard Times, a Kurtis Blow cover, tells about financial hardship in daily life. The drum machine, effects and MCs become audible. A serious message in fresh rhymes and beats. Rock Box exemplifies all that made Run DMC awesome, inventing Rap-Rock with this one track . If you don’t cath my drift on how catchy this is understand: as I’m typing I have have a hard time supressing  the urge to play air guitar, on an old school Hip Hop track of all things. One could almost head bang to this eighties gem. I won’t even bother elaborating about the lyrics in my moment of utter enjoyment while I listen to some bragging over screaming guitars.

B-Boys and B-Girls of all nations gather, Jam-Master-Jay is Jam Master Jay exhibiting DJ his skills over breaks, beats and samples accompanied with some exemplary rhyming by Run and D.M.C. Hollis Crew continues with more break beats. What more can one say? One could even imagine Chuck Berry nodding his head to this. Given the MCs have great articulation while continuing their bragging, their dismissal of Sucker M.C.’s is justified. The breaks and samples sound somewhat repetitive but the lyrical flow is great. “You’ve got to know when to start when the beats commence”, the last line in this track says it all.

It’s Like That is included in its original incarnation, the one without the pumping beats. It’s basically a slower take on Hard Times. It’s the better track of the two, what with its “But it’s like that and that’s the way it is” chorus. The urgency of the lyrics gives it a timeless feel for the post eighties era. Musically Jam Master Jay is being quite adventurous on this track. Jam Master Jays reliance on the drum machine and only a few sample results in nicely layered parts and as well as very effective minimal parts on this one song. The usage of little soundbites interchanged with bass lines and big beats really makes this really enjoyable

Wake-Up is a smoother track about making the world a better place, with Jay again making the most of the instrumental with only a few samples and sound effects being used. His walls of sound with the snore in the background, early eighties ingenuity. 30 Days follows it as a danceable nod to the ladies with a wink to the Weather Sisters’ and the bragging continues. This is the most ‘poppy’ track on the album actually. But don’t be afraid that it’s downhill from there; Jay’s Game continues the Hip-Hop while the break beats enter your conscience leaving you no option but to bob your head to Jay’s crafty creation. No rapping here, just breaks and samples . I give in and move around on my chair while trying to type. (Needless to say I had to make a few corrections.)

There’s something that still requires some explanation. I didn’t really write about the lyrics and I already gave some hints. Run and DMC rhyme and brag their way through this album in their often playful yet preachy style. The lyrical content varies from ‘we’re better than thou’ to ‘listen to our message’ and repeats itself. Compared to the much smoother Melle Mel for instance Run and DMC come off as preachy, which can annoy at times. Still, it mostly works well with Jam Master Jay’s instrumentals and this album is a joy to listen to. There’s no real filler, with its nine tracks there isn’t any room for it on this album, therefore the best tracks section doesn’t indicate that the rest is bad. On the contrary every track on the album serves a purpose and sounds pretty good to say the least.

Best Tracks
Hard Times
Rock Box
Sucker M.C.’s
It’s Like That
Jay’s Game

Recommendations
RUN-D.M.C. is an important piece of Hip-Hop history. (If the alliteration isn’t confirmation enough of a recommendation I’ll be more exact.) Buy this album, or at least give it a good listen because this 1984 album still sounds fresh today and its influence is being felt today still.

My regards,

Rura88