A friend of mine and I had a conversation about singing groups in R&B music. I asked my friend if she could think of any groups that are around today, like there were twenty years ago. She said she couldn’t think of any, and neither could I. Twenty years ago, or even twenty-five years ago, there were so many male singing groups (and female groups too) that you almost couldn’t tell them apart. Besides Jodeci and Boyz II Men, there were groups like Hi-Five, New Edition, Troop, Dru Hill, Rude Boys, Levert, and so many more. One of the best of them, in my opinion, was Solo, and it’s their songs that make up today’s Morning Groove.
Robert Anderson, Darnell Chavis, Eunique Mack and Daniele Stokes were found singing on a Manhattan street by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, or so the story goes. Liking what they heard, the duo signed the group to their Perspective Records label and flew them to Minneapolisto record their debut album at their Flyte Tyme studio. From the first notes of their debut single, I knew I would be a fan of this group. The song, “Heaven” was a throwback even before throwbacks were called such a thing. It definitely stood out from what was on R&B radio at the time. It’s uniqueness, coupled with the great singing from the four members of the group, landed the song in the R&B top 5.
Subsequent singles “Where Do U Want Me To Put It” and “He’s Not Good Enough” continued their momentum, but the song I loved the most outside of “Heaven” was “Blowin’ My Mind.” Everytime I hear it, I’m snapping my fingers and singing along with the chorus.
Their second album found them working with Raphael Saadiq, formerly of Tony!Toni!Toné! He helped produce and write the first single from their second album 4 Bruthas & A Bass, the fine “Touch Me,” which should have fared much better than it’s mid-twenties chart placing. Unfortuately, it was the last charted single for the group, but I still like it better than a whole lot of things I heard in 1998.
While the lack of male singing groups or bands isn’t as pronounced in rock or pop music, all I hear in contemporary R&B these days are soloists. That’s fine, I guess, but I do miss hearing three or four guys or girls sing in harmony, just as if they were singing on a street corner. These guys were one of the best of the tons of them that were singing back in the 1990s. I hope you enjoy these songs from Solo, and as always, thanks for reading and listening.