I have always said if time travel were possible and I could go back to any year, I would choose 1988. The reason is to experience the breakthrough of New Jack Swing. Die-hard music fans know that one of the most incredible tours of the decade was the New Edition Heartbreak tour. The acts on the bill were New Edition, Bobby Brown and this week’s second listen Sunday pick Al B. Sure!’s debut album In Effect Mode.
Al B. Sure! got his start in the music industry singing background vocals on Heavy D. & The Boyz’ 1987 debut Living Large. He appeared on the song “Dedication” as well as the singles “Don’t You Know” and “Moneyearnin’ Mount Vernon.” So naturally, when fans heard “Nite and Day,” Sure’s! first single, he was already somewhat established. The song was written and produced by Al B. Sure! and Kyle West and is a classic bop about expressing feelings for someone.
On May 3, 1988, In Effect Mode hit record stores to great fanfare and strong reviews. The next single released was “Off on Your Own (Girl)”, which was just as infectious as the first single. “Rescue Me,” “If I’m Not Your Lover,” and “Killing Me Softly” followed with each having some success. This success is due to all of the songs being written and composed by Al B. Sure! and Kyle West, outside of two tracks. It was clear that the two had great chemistry and got the best from each other in the studio.
As strong as the singles were, though, my personal favorites from In Effect Mode are two songs that were never singles but made their way on to numerous slow jam mixtapes back in the day. Up first is “Oooh, This Love is So,” which gives off the vibe of a jazz club in France and suites Al’s vocals perfectly. Concurrently, “Naturally Mine” is a sensual slow cut that will set the mood. Al B. Sure!’S debut is a testament to the adage that less is more with just nine songs.
Final Grade: A-
In Effect Mode is available on all streaming platforms.