After their last full major album, ALL FOR LOVE, New Edition (now officially a quartet, without Bobby Brown) had a major hit with a cover of The Penguins’ 1954 song EARTH ANGEL, which appeared on the soundtrack to the movie THE KARATE KID II. In the wake of that hit, someone got the bright idea that New Edition should capitalize on it by recording an entire album of covers of old songs from the 1950’s and 60’s.
That’s not the worst idea in the world, perhaps if they were taking classics like “My Girl” and “Why Do Fools Fall In Love”, and giving them an updated, pop/hip-hop feel to it, that would be really inventive. But instead they took mostly lesser-known hits, and pretty much recorded them standard, as they originally were.
In addition to Earth Angel, they recorded Jimmy Charles’ 1960 hit A MILLION TO ONE, Gene Chandler’s 1962 hit DUKE OF EARL, Eddie Holman’s 1969 hit (HEY THERE) LONELY GIRL, The Heartbeats’ 1957 hit A THOUSAND MILES AWAY, Don and Juan’s 1962 hit WHAT’S YOUR NAME?, Little Anthony and the Imperials 1958 hit TEARS ON MY PILLOW, The Marcels’ 1961 hit BLUE MOON, and The Skyliners’ SINCE I DON’T HAVE YOU.
Of those, Tears On My Pillow, which featured Little Anthony himself on guest-vocals, and was the only single specifically released from this album (not counting Earth Angel, which had been released before), is the only real standout. That is thanks in large part to Ralph Tresvant’s perfect pitch, and the other boys’ excellent background. There’s also one new song called BRING BACK THE MEMORIES, which is not a particularly memorable song. This isn’t a “bad” album, by any means, it just feels very average, and doesn’t do anything to move the group forward artistically, instead feeling like a step backward.
I have since read that the main reason New Edition recorded albums so frequently during these first few years is that they owed MCA Records a lot of money for helping them get out of their contract with former manager Maurice Starr and his Streetwise Records, where they recorded their first album Candy Girl. That would explain the existence of this album, since the songs were already written so it could be recorded relatively fast.
Overall, I could only recommend this album to New Edition completist’s, otherwise it could be skipped. GRADE: