For a certain generation of R&B fans, New Edition was their version of the Jackson 5. The recent reaction to BET’s New Edition mini-series proved that for many, this group was a big part of their memories. Today’s song may well have been their most romantic of all.
For #RomanticTuesday, I’ve chosen “Can You Stand The Rain.”
Five young guys from Boston: Ralph Tresvant, Ricky Bell, Bobby Brown, Ronnie DeVoe and Michael Bivens got together to form one of the most beloved singing groups of the last thirty years. The hits came right out of the box; “Candy Girl,” an 80’s update of the Jackson 5’s bubblegum hits from the decade before started the parade, and many more followed. “Is This The End,” “Popcorn Love,” “Cool It Now,” “Mr. Telephone Man,” “Count Me Out,”…and on and on. Brown left in 1986 to start a solo career, and the remaining members soldiered on through an album of doo-wop remakes before being joined by solo singer Johnny Gill.
By the time of “Can You Stand The Rain,” production was being handled by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. It was also the group’s first album with Gill, and they wanted to move beyond the bubblegum image that they started with. With the album Heart Break, the young men proved to do just that. Over the course of the years to follow, Brown would come back to perform with New Edition, making six members in the group. There were also solo and side projects from the members: Tresvant, Brown and Gill each released solo albums, while Bell, Bivens and DeVoe formed Bell Biv DeVoe and had hits as a group. In fact, earlier this year, Bell Biv DeVoe released the album Three Stripes.
The recent mini-series proved that nostalgia for the New Edition story is very strong, but their influence can be felt in many ways. Check out this clip from the movie The Best Man Holiday, as the male leads do a performance of “Can You Stand The Rain” as part of the holiday gathering. Forgive me for showing a movie with a Christmas setting at the end of March.
In case you were wondering, those male actors are Morris Chestnut, Taye Diggs, Terence Howard and Harold Perrineau. They actually do a pretty decent job, if I say so myself.
If you know the song, what do you think of it? If you’ve never heard it, what do you think of it? For that matter, what do you think of New Edition, or its members or soloists? Either way, tell me about it in the comments, and as always, thanks for reading and listening.