Tag Archives: Bel Biv Devoe

15: Poison (Bel Biv Devoe)

Album: Poison
Artist: Bel Biv Devoe
Year: 1990

1. Dope!
2. B.B.D. (I Thought It Was Me)?
3. Let Me Know Something
4. Do Me!
5. Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky, Mike, Ralph and Johnny (Word to the Mutha)!
6. Poison
7. Ain’t Nut’in’ Changed
8. When Will I See You Smile Again?
9. I Do Need You
10. Poison [Extended Club Version]

In case you can’t read it, the album cover advertised that BBD’s “music is mentally hip-hop, smoothed out on the R&B tip with a pop feel appeal to it.” They forgot, “and also with lots of punctuation!”   Seriously, that list of song titles is not pretty.

Thankfully, here at Death By Troggles we don’t judge music by its cover. I never listened to much New Edition, and I’m lukewarm about the solo careers of Ralph Tresvant, Bobby Brown, and Johnny Gill. BBD impressed the hell out of me when I was ten and this album still does twenty-two years later. They cover only three topics in nine songs: sex, relationships, and reminding everyone that their name is BBD.  Many songs cover all three, and they do it with infectious energy, stylish rhymes, above-average harmonies, and pretty good enunciation.

Poison is their most popular song and I don’t feel it’s aged a bit, other than perhaps some slang like “knockin’ boots.” Ricky Bell’s voice is outstanding, which he shows off most on Dope!  B.B.D. is a hilarious song. “She’s sticking closer to you than the bread on the meat of my sandwich,” is so ridiculous but they pull it off. I remember singing Do Me! really loud as an 11-year old, even when my mom was home, and she’d just roll her eyes. Even to this day when someone says, “It’s six o’clock” I immediately think “on this Swatch Watch!”  The group’s strength is definitely with their up-tempo numbers. They finish things off with two decent ballads. They don’t do them near as well as their protege, Boyz II Men, but they more than make up for it with everything else.

The whole gang from New Edition shows up on Word to the Mutha, probably the worst song on the album, as it’s pretty self-aggrandizing. The extended club mix of Poison also does nothing for me and is unnecessary, especially just four songs after the original version. But I don’t count it against the album when ranking it.

56: Cooleyhighharmony (Boyz II Men)

Album: Cooleyhighharmony
Artist: Boyz II Men
Year: 1991

1. Please Don’t Go
2. Lonely Heart
3. This is My Heart
4. Uhh Ahh
5. It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday
6. Motownphilly
7. Under Pressure
8. Sympin’
9. Little Things
10. Your Love

The debut album for the proteges of Bel Biv Devoe, Boyz II Men burst onto the pop charts with (appropriately) some really awesome harmonies. To be honest, their lyrics rarely do much for me, and many of their ballads are very simplistic. But damn if I don’t find myself swaying to their velvet voices in This is My Heart or beat the steering wheel during Motownphilly. Yesterday is a bit overrated for me, but still solid. And Under Pressure, as they explicitly state in the intro, is a pretty great example of them blending harmony with hip hop.

Interestingly, the album is divided into slow songs in the first half, and up-tempo songs in the second half. I’m not sure that would work for every album, but it seems appropriate here.

I didn’t care much for their sophomore album, though I did dig their duet with Mariah Carey, at least the first eighty-thousand times I heard it.