Monday, January 25, 2016

Johnny Gill: Album review

Thought I would take a break from the moving pictures and review something completely (okay, relatively) different.


Johnny Gill is the second self-titled album from Johnny Gill, a Motown artist who first appeared on the scene in the mid-80s as a teen pop star. The star part took awhile as he slogged through a couple of bubblegum albums which failed to spark. Fortune smiled when Bobby Brown left New Edition to begin his solo career.

After Brown's departure, Gill was tapped to be his replacement. The album he appeared on, Heart Break, happened to be the group's breakthrough as an adult act. Benefitting from the magic touch of producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, the album was a massive hit. 

In 1990, the various members decided to try other projects: Ralph Tresvant released a solo album, scoring a hit with the fine ballad 'Sensitivity'. The other three members formed a power trio, Bell Biv DeVoe, which scaled the charts with their new jack anthem 'Poison'.  However, the biggest success, from a critical and commercial standpoint, was Gill's effort, an effortless mix of scintillating ballads and energetic dance numbers.

A tag team effort from Jam-Lewis and Babyface and LA Reid, Johnny Gill remains a sterling piece of work -- a testament to what can happen when you top load a project with talent. 

I have had this album for years, and it continues to amaze me how many great tracks are on it. The diversity of styles alone gives it a depth you normally do not get with a pop record.

Since it's the early 90s, you get your new jack dose with 'Rub You The Right Way' and 'Fairweather Friend'. And for the romantic types, you get the timeless 'My, My, My' and 'Wrap My Body Tight'. Sure, the videos are collection of RnB cliches, and some of the production anchors it to the past, but the songs are great. With a few aural adjustments, tracks like these could stand up to most contemporary offerings of a similar kind. 

Johnny Gill would continue to put out records, both solo and as a part of a re-formed New Edition, but he has arguably never bettered this. Give it a listen.


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