New Edition’s ‘Heart Break’ Album Celebrates 25th Anniversary
New Edition were enjoying their spot in the limelight in the ’80s. However, when Bobby Brown decided to launch his own solo career and eventually left the group in 1988, Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, Ronnie DeVoe and Ralph Tresvant weren’t too sure about the future of New Edition. But after enlisting Johnny Gill to be New Edition’s new fifth member, it seemed like their future would look brighter with ‘Heart Break.’ And 25 years later, it’s considered both a great album as well as one that influenced R&B’s future music groups.
Released on June 20, 1988, ‘Heart Break’ was New Edition’s fifth studio album, and the first one they did without Brown. Before going into what made this album a great one for the group, let’s look back at the state the group was in at the time right before and during the recording of this album.
Aside from Brown’s ultimate departure, Tresvant, the group’s lead vocalist, was also considering leaving the group to go solo. However, it seems that once the band finally brought Gill in, Tresvant decided to stick around as well. Even though there were group politics, the members were getting older. So the pop-meets-R&B sound that catapulted the guys to stardom didn’t cut it at that point.
In order to get that more mature sound while staying true to their style, the guys brought on Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis — who were the geniuses behind Janet Jackson‘s ‘Control,’ released the previous year — to help New Edition with their production. With some new recruits and a refreshed outlook on their musical path, the guys went to work on the 15-track album that would become ‘Heart Break.’
The LP received generally positive reviews from the music and general press and also peaked at the No. 12 spot on the Billboard 200 as well as No. 3 on the Billboard R&B Albums chart. It eventually went double platinum in July 1994. ‘Heart Break’ spawned five singles — ‘If It Isn’t Love,’ ‘You’re Not My Kinda Girl,’ ‘Can You Stand the Rain,’ ‘Crucial,’ and ‘N.E. Heart Break.’
‘N.E. Heart Break,’ was the final single to release off this album and was essentially the most successful track, peaking at No. 13 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Billboard chart. While that tune made an impact on the charts, ‘Competition,’ which was never a single, became a standout track due to the fact it dealt with the group’s feelings toward Brown’s departure two years prior.
‘Heart Break’ not only displayed New Edition’s growth but also became an inspiration to up and coming R&B groups. Boyz II Men were reportedly so inspired by New Edition’s song ‘Boys to Men’ that they took the title to name their group. Meanwhile, Jagged Edge paid homage to New Edition by naming their sophomore LP, ‘J.E. Heartbreak.’
Watch New Edition’s ‘N.E. Heart Break’ Video