Sometime in late 1990, Jive Records released this self-titled debut album of this vocal quintet, which consisted of members Tony Thompson (RIP), Roderick Clark, Marcus Sanders, Toriano Easley, and Russell Neal, who were all 15-16 at the time. Clearly styled after New Edition, Thompson was the lead singer with a falsetto voice, and the group exhibited intricate choreography in their videos and stage shows, as they performed songs of young love and heartbreak. Backed by several talented songwriters and producers, most notably Teddy Riley, this album contained 10 new R&B/Pop songs. Opening with their debut single I JUST CAN’T HANDLE IT, a New Jack dance song with surprisingly mature lyrics, as Thompson sings about his love for an older woman…
Of course, this was back when adult women having sex with teenage boys was considered a rare scandalous occurrence, as opposed to something that seems to happen all the time today.
This is followed by the uptempo track JUST ANOTHER GIRLFRIEND, about dealing with a jealous ex who is trying to sabotage his new relationship. There is also a dance remix version of this song on the album, which I don’t like as well as the original.
This was followed by I LIKE THE WAY (THE KISSING GAME), a mellow love song which became their biggest hit.
Filling out the rest of the album are the uptempo tracks RAG DOLL, TOO YOUNG, MERRY GO ROUND, and SWEETHEART, all about growing up and being in love. And then there are the other slow jams THE WAY YOU SAID GOODBYE (a personal favorite of mine), I KNOW LOVE, and the single I CAN’T WAIT ANOTHER MINUTE:
Throughout this album the boys show a vocal rang and emotional maturity that is far beyond their years. This is helped by the fact that they’re given more adult material than groups like New Edition and New Kids on The Block were given on their debut albums, but the boys’ natural talent is evident. This is a great collection of 90’s R&B music. Chacebook rating: FIVE STARS
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