Monday, November 8, 2010

Bobby Brown - Don't Be Cruel (1988)

Before he was pimp slapping the snot out of Whitney Houston and doing enough coke+assorted substances to kill an elephant, Bobby Brown was a funky little whippersnapper at the top of the R&B charts back in the late 80's. But not because he's some great musician or anything. In truth, much of that success and fame he had was due entirely in thanks to tonight's 1988 upload, which holds up surprisngly well today in a "Woah, this is kinda cool" retro-hipster kind of manner.

Yeah, Don't Be Cruel is a pop album. From the 80's. Reverb is everywhere. Drum machines reign supreme. Still, I beg you lot to have an open mind and enjoy the aesthetic as an expression of the era instead of letting it prevent you from enjoying some pretty good 80's R&B. Hell, it kicks the doodoo out of George Michael's Faith (which beat this sucker at the 1989 Grammys). Kind of a shame really, as Brown himself does very well for himself here and sounds great.

On top of Brown's admittedly cool presence, infamous producer Babyface really pulled out the production stops in places. That 80's oh-so-cheerful fogginess (though everything sounds crystal clear) and sparkling synth-on-the-water feel which runs through everything here truly brings out the best of that tiny spark of talent Brown had back then..though it was subsequently lost by his next album. In retrospect methinks, Don't Be Cruel deserved to be number one on the charts the year I was born. It's a genuine  time-capsuled testament of what made certain things about the 1980's an inspiring era in music, even in the occasional pop context.

Therefore, ladies and gents: if you are going to own just one album in the New Jack Swing genre, make it this one.

Listen Here - "I'll Be Good To You"

Try It
Buy It

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