"Being that I'm a die-hard new edition fan, 5 stars simply isn't enough for one of the best r&b albums of all time. It was even more influential because of the timing. New Jack Swing was still in its infancy and it's safe to say that Heart Break was a cornerstone album to cement new jack swing as the dominant genre of urban music in 1988. Returning to the album, Jam & Lewis (the production team), and New Edition were in prime form, as heard by Ralph, Ricky, and newcomer Johnny. They start off by telling you "That's the Way They're Livin'" after a lively introduction. They make you reminisce with them as they tell you "Where It All Started From".
Their first single, "If It Isn't Love", had success written all over it. Having a memorable chorus and top-notch production, "If It Isn't Love" nearly topped the r&b charts at #2 and did pretty well on the pop chart too, #7. Things get right down funky on "N.E. Heart Break" (2nd favorite track). All five members get in on the act, and in the process, peaking at #13 on the r&b chart. "Crucial" continues in dance mode, but is lighter sounding. It's still an enjoyable listen, peaking at #4 on the r&b chart. "You're Not My Kind of Girl" is a pleasing follow-up to crucial. It peaked at #3 on the r&b chart. "Superlady" rounds out the dance/new jack flava of the album.
"Can You Stand the Rain" introduces the ballad side of Heart Break. From the memorable chorus to Johnny's buttery vocals complimented with Ralph's smooth delivery, it was destined to top the charts, staying there for 2 weeks. "Competition", is New Edition at their best. Ricky, Ralph, and Ronnie compliment team up to deliver a smooth tune. It's my third favorite track and one that is usually overlooked in regards to first-rate NE tracks. "I'm Comin' Home" has a nice mid-tempo groove, which is just right for Ralph's quiet yet forceful delivery. Rounding out the album is the unforgettable assurance of "Boys to Men". This is my favorite track on the set with Johnny's smooth vocals complimented by Ralph's silky bridge. This is the epitomy of pure soul.
All in all, heart break is the best album new edition recorded. Their isn't any filler, which is hard to come by for R&B albums. Every song follows the next, which makes for an easy listen. For all of these qualities, this album will go down as one of the best albums of the new jack swing era and is first-rate R&B across all other urban genres (adult comtemporary, urban contemporary, classic soul). In other words, it is recommended for the casual r&b fan and essential for the casual new jack fan."
Essential New Editon, Boys No More
Susan Stuart | NY, USA | 08/18/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In Tresvant and Gill, however, N.E. had a pair of singers blessed with creamy tenor voices who could both take the lead. And lead they d0. What catches the ear first in their finest moment, the single "You're Not My Kind of Girl," however, isn't the singing, but the production tricks in the song's intro. Listen with headphones, and hear the channel-jumping "you're very pretty"s going back and forth, buried in the mix. And then what's done with the "sorry"s, toyed and toggled into submission, almost cut and scratched, but not quite, with accomplished singer Johnny Gill riffing all over it. The track is purely synthetic, of its moment but never sounding too dated. But "Girl"'s coup de grace is the twist I didn't notice until very recently: not only is Ralph singing lead, he's got Johnny backing him up on the verses, adding a deep, delicious harmony. Ralph's voice is strong and urgent, reminiscent of Michael Jackson's coo at moments (such as his "giiii-iiirl" which opens the second verse like a waterfall)from Johnny, before he and Ralph go over and over "you're not my, you're not, you're not, my kind..." as the song closes on itself. And did you hear that, buried in the second chorus? It's a spine tingling experience. BBD do their standing-on-the-corner-rappin'-with-the-fellas thing for the bridge, and then it's onto the third chorus, vamping its way out, but not before one last, thrilling "Wooo! More than simply back up but talented and accomplished entertainers in their own right. Heartbreak is the last album to give eternal fans a little bit of the old NE and an sexy introduction to the men of New Edition. This album is the best of both worlds. This is an essential R&B and should be in every serious record collectors bin."
NEW EDITION's FINEST HOUR - ENTER JOHNNY GILL
Knyte | New York, NY | 05/27/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Heartbreak album is a masterpiece. From head to toe, the album was produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, who already mastering 80s Black pop, had added New Jack Swing music to their skills. The similarly produced Janet Jackson album, "Rhythm Nation 1814" would be released the next year - but this album really marked Jam & Lewis' ability to transition into the 1990s. Not only was the production exciting, but the group added Johnny Gill, from Washington DC. His mature and husky voice was an excellent counterpoint to Ralph's softness and would be the template for the combo of K-Ci and JoJo's hard and soft vocals in Jodeci three years later.The album opens up with an excellent intro that climaxes into the energetic and live sounding "That's The Way We're Living" in which Johnny makes his debut with soaring riffs that conclude the fanfare that opens the album. On "Where It All Started From", the excitement continues as every member gets their moment in the sun on this upbeat, fun track. (Which I think should be included on the soundtrack for their possible movie...) Then, N.E. gets intense on "If It Isn't Love" which is an urgent plea for love and understanding, and one of N.E.'s signature songs. The album continues consistently, with the title track, "N.E. Heartbreak" tying us over into "Crucial" and "You're Not My Kinda Girl" which were all released as singles during the Heartbreak campaign. Although the remixes of the previous three songs are better than the album versions, they are still good listens overall. Then, only on the CD version, the album seems to take a step back into the 'All For Love' era, with "Superlady", a bonus track that features the Double R Connection of Ricky Bell and Ralph Tresvant taking the helm. The saxophone solo in the middle of the song gives it a more bubblegum feel...but it is a welcome return and appropriate prelude to the work of sonic art to come next. Chirping birds introduce "Can You Stand the Rain?" and New Edition turns put their best performance on this one. Johnny and Ralph singing together reassure the listener that there is life (perhaps a better one) for New Edition after Bobby Brown's departure. With perfect timing, Ricky Bell scores a memorable solo in the middle of the song before Johnny bundles us up with his powerful, warm, and mature voice as the song fades into the rain.Ralph leads his band of merry men into "Competition", a sweet, sincere and well meaning song that seems to have been recorded before Johnny Gill's arrival. Anyhow, the song is nice. On "I'm Comin' Home", New Edition serves up a quiet storm classic that utilizes Ralph, Ricky and Johhny very well. It is a jam best served in front of a warm fire, sipping hot cocoa with marshmallows under a warm blanket with your significant other. By this point on the album, there is no mistake that the boys have grown into men, and Johnny confirms this fact on the last song, "Boys To Men". It is a perfect ending to a perfect album with interludes that let you into the lives of New Edition. Whether they are fighting over a woman, rapping about Heartbreak, making fun of Johnny Gill or discussing homesickness, the spoken interludes fit in well with the album. Kudos to Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis for really blessing this one. The album is so special, four guys from Philly decided to name themselves after the last track - "Boyz II Men". Heartbreak is New Edition at their best."
Nucleicacid5 | Oakland, Ca. | 04/16/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This album came out my senior year in highschool. There was sooooooooo much Great Black music coming out in this era, specifically 1988. Rap was gaining influence, and 88' is known as the golden era of rap. New Jack Swing was Crackin' and then R&B was doing its thing. It was a great time to be highschool. NE HEARTBREAK was such an influential. When it hit the airwaves...it hit hard. You could not go to a school dance or prom without a song on this album being played. I did not like the thought of johnny gill being in the group at firt, because I thought he would mess up the chemistry of the group, he has a great voice but he was an unproven artist. I was wrong. This album affected me and alot of the guys I was going to school with. We all grew up with NE and the album was a very reflective album. This album was New Edition's transition from boys to men and for me and my buddies, this was also the case. NE's albums literally reflected our younger years and now this album was also a turning point, we were growing up...We used to not just listen to this album, but FEEL IT. The single boy's to men says it all. It was a great time and a great album. I agree with everyone else, this was their best album and this was a 5 star album. This album will stand the test of time. For any 18 year old today or years from now, it will bring reflective joy. New Edition is that group that comes from that great lineage of the old motown groups. NE is the last of that breed, there has not been a group since New Edition with their delivery, moves and stage prescence. Class. It is one thing to bump and grind on stage for two hours, which is something all male groups tend to do. I remembe seeing them at the NE heartbreak tour in '88 and them brothas got on stage and were smooth. No group as done that since...You just won't see that today. Class. Today you got r&b groups coming out dressed like thugs...singing love songs...that is wrong...LOL...For my generation it is New Edition. Just as the tempts were my parents choice...NE is ours... we are still waiting for the next great r&b group....16 years and counting..."