#89: New Edition ‘If It Isn’t Love’

NEHeartBreak.jpgThe year was 1987. Due to pressure from the record label, Bobby Brown had just been voted out of the group. Ralph Tresvant started mumbling about following Brown out the door and going solo. The group we all knew and loved as New Edition was in danger of disbanding.

Thankfully, that didn't happen, as the remaining members of the crew (Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins and Ronnie DeVoe) had the foresight to recruit Johnny Gill to sing lead, thus heading off Ralph's exit. So, either way there was going to be a new New Edition. And when Ralph came to his senses and stayed put, what the public got was a more mature sound with the release of the group's fifth studio CD, 1988's Heart Break.

They went from Word Up! to grown up, right before our eyes. Guiding the resurgence were super-producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, the architects of Janet Jackson's multiplatinum 1986 Control album.

And this song, "If It Isn't Love", was the re-introduction--a departure from the bubble gum sound of their earlier work to the more sophisticated stylings that would take them to the next level. The definitive drumroll intro alone should've clued us in that everything was different now.

From boys to men, indeed.

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13 Responses

  1. "If It Isn't Love" is easily my favorite New Edition song of all time. I even liked the way the MTB4 Guys performed it on their season finale.

  2. One of my favorite concerts was New Edition ... love those guys!

  3. I guess....
    Very good write-up though.

  4. "If It Isn't Love" is classic! Classic song, classic video. NE forever!
    BTW, I believe Janet's Control came out in 1986.

  5. I can still do all the dance steps from the video. I'm looking for four brothers who are as fly as myself and also know the moves so we can shut down karaoke spots performing this joint.

  6. On an episode of Scrubs, "Turk" played by Donald Faison, auditioned for an 'air band' and did the entire routine of Bell Biv Devoe's "Poison". LOL. It brought back memories, I tell ya! I loved New Edition. This is classic, indeed. They had the new school R&B boy group combined with the grace and elegance of old school groups like the Temptations and The Four Tops. Awesome. Thanks for the clip!

  7. Man, whenever the name New Edition is mentioned - I always feel like I am 12 again! They just don't make them like this anymore, their shows are just as good as they were in 88, in 96, in 03, etc. EVERY time I seem them they are consumate professionals and its like being in my pre-teen & teenage room again w/ the posters from Right On, Word Up, and Black Beat all around my room. NE & R.Devoe - Le Sigh! LOL is it obvious that I'm a stan 😉

  8. @ Pirouette: Good catch. It's been changed. Thanks. 🙂
    @ Stylus: I'm down. Let's go!

  9. @ Harlem: aight, we just need to recruit 3 more. I'm generally Ralph but my upper register isn't like that these days so I can shift to Ronnie.

  10. Love them. A class act and their music grew with them. I saw them in concert with Al B. Sure and it was ridiculous. LOL!

  11. If you haven't at least practiced these steps in the mirror once, you haven't been living life! This is a classic!!

  12. Great choice. This song brings back memories!

  13. @ Law Diva
    Yes, NE is excellent in concert. I saw them in '06, and they were great! They should have headlined (Brian McKnight did instead). When the guys broke out with "Poison" at the end, it was over! And out of all them, Ronnie has aged the best. You can barely tell he's pushing 40.


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