In 2004 New Edition was once more a quintet, as Bobby Brown was out again, and they had left MCA Records and signed with Sean Combs’ Badboy Records. The result of which is this album ONE LOVE. The first single released from this album was HOT 2NIGHT, a mid-temp track where Ralph, Johnny, Ricky, and Ronnie share lead-vocals, with Michael providing backgrounds. I really liked this song, and therefor had high hopes for the rest of the album.
There are 14 other tracks on this album, making it New Edition’s longest collection. This is pretty much a straight R&B album, with none of the Pop, Dance, New Jack Swing influences of their previous studio albums or solo work. As such, it is probably their most mature-sounding album, although no new ground is broken. Most of the songs are slow to mid-tempo tracks, with Ralph singing the majority of the lead vocals, with Johnny and Ricky joining in on co-leads on a few songs. Outside of the lead (& only) single, the other two songs that I really LOVE are RE-WRITE THE MEMORIES and NEWNESS, both of which are produced by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, who work their usual magic. I’ll put those three songs up against any of New Editions classic hits.
There are many other good songs on this album. SEXY LADY has an almost Latin flavor to it, with Ricky singing lead. WILDEST DREAMS another Ralph-lead song, that’s pretty good. START TURNIN’ ME ON, LOVE AGAIN, THAT’S WHY I LIED, LAST TIME and BEST MAN are also decent tracks. Fans of Johnny Gill’s solo work should like the ballad COME HOME WITH ME, which he sings lead on. There’s a party-song called ALL ON YOU featuring raps from Ronnie and Michael, all about drinking and women and all that. While that sort of thing fit in BBD, it feels fake on a New Edition album. The remaining tracks, BEEN SO LONG, FEELIN’ IT, and LEAVE ME aren’t particularly memorable.
I’m not surprised that New Edition left Bad Boy after this album, which was under-promoted from the start. To date, New Edition has not recorded a new album, but I still hold out hope for at least one more (preferably with Bobby Brown back in the group), as I don’t think One Love is quite good enough to be their swan song.