Heart Break is an album released by American R&B quintet New Edition on the MCA label on June 20, 1988. It's the first album to return the Boston-reared band as a quintet after the public exit of original member Bobby Brown, and the first album to feature Johnny Gill as member of the group.
By 1987, New Edition was a group in transition. The band members were aging out of their teens into their young twenties, and sought for their image and sound to reflect their coming of age. In addition to employing the famed production team of Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis
(who just the year before had masterminded Janet Jackson’s
album) to help stir their music into a new direction, they also recruited Washington, D.C.
-based baritone/tenor Johnny Gill
—who, in 1984, had scored a hit with R&B singer Stacy Lattisaw
on "A Perfect Combination." The New Edition members (including Bobby Brown) had actually known Gill since they released their hit "Candy Girl" in 1983 and Gill released his R&B Top 30 hit "Super Love" that same year. They had joked that they would let him in the group if he could improve his dancing skills.
Prompting Gill’s entrance into the group in 1987 was when lead singer Ralph Tresvant considered recording a solo album. To circumvent New Edition being left without a lead singer, Michael Bivins suggested bringing in 20-year-old Gill to replace him. Gill accepted the invitation, joining the group in the spring of 1987. Tresvant, however, wasn’t ready to leave — resulting in New Edition, inadvertently, becoming a quintet again as they began production on their fifth album, Heart Break.
While most of Heart Break features principal vocals by Tresvant, with occasional solos by Ricky Bell, Gill’s voice is significantly displayed as the secondary lead throughout the album. Gill took the lead on the track “Boys to Men” (a song in which the singer initially resisted and resented recording, feeling it too juvenile), which became one of the albums most eminent numbers, despite its never being officially released as a single. Another standout album track was “Competition,” a song written by Tresvant that addresses the disappointment felt over the departure of Bobby Brown, two years earlier.
Many fans have called this particular album the most seminal New Edition album. Four fans from Philadelphia
in particular were inspired by one of the songs on the album. Ironically, "Boys to Men", the song that Johnny Gill hated recording, ended up becoming the name of the group who changed their name to Boyz II Men
. The group would end up being managed and mentored by Michael Bivins. Boyz II Men names New Edition as one of their most influential bands. In particular, the band's "If It Isn't Love" and "Can You Stand the Rain" are two of the group's most adored songs. The album also saw a successful concert tour for the group as well. Through 1988 and 1989, New Edition toured all over the world with opening acts, ex-New Edition member Bobby Brown
(who had also found big time success with his breakthrough album, Don't Be Cruel
) and Al B. Sure!
- "Introduction" (1:04)
- "That's the Way We're Livin'" (Bell/Bivins/DeVoe/Gill/Tresvant) (4:02)
- "Where It All Started" (Harris/Lewis) (3:31)
- "If It Isn't Love" (Harris/Lewis) (5:09)
- "Skit #1" (:35)
- "N.E. Heartbreak" (Harris/Lewis) (5:44)
- "Crucial" (Johnson/Keith) (4:33)
- "Skit #2" (:44)
- "You're Not My Kind of Girl" (Harris/Lewis) (4:01)
- "Superlady" (Bell/Bivins/DeVoe/Gill/Tresvant) (5:01)
- "Can You Stand the Rain" (Harris/Lewis) (4:57)
- "Competition" (Tresvant) (4:28)
- "Skit #3" (:38)
- "I'm Comin' Home" (Harris/Lewis) (5:06)
- "Boys to Men" (Harris/Lewis) (4:10)