New Edition, All For Love
Derrick Dunn

Derrick Dunn

Second Listen Sunday: New Edition, All For Love

What better way to kick off the 2023 Season of Second Listen Sunday than reviewing a New Edition album? If you didn’t already know, the group recently announced a Spring Tour titled “The Legacy Tour” with opening acts Tank, Guy, and Keith Sweat. Now you know I’m attending two shows here in the DMV with reviews to follow. But while you’re waiting for those reviews, let’s take a trip back in time and look at the group’s third album, All For Love.

The year was 1985, and the R&B quintet New Edition was everywhere. Their second self-titled album quickly made them one of the biggest pops acts in the world. Tours stayed sold out, and there were even rumblings of a feature film that would see the group portray basketball team members. Naturally, the label wanted a follow-up album, and in the spring of 1985, the group began work on All For Love.

For the album’s lead single, “Count Me Out,” NE reunited with songwriting/production duo Vincent Brantley and Rick Timas, the masterminds behind “Cool It Now.” Initially there were rumors that Brantley and Timas wanted Bobby Brown to lead the song and have Ralph Tresvant handle the bridge. However, MCA balked at this idea, and Tresvant retook the lead. An infectious bop, the song is essentially a spiritual sequel to “Cool It Now.” Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky, and Mike want to hang out with just the fellas, but Tresvant is catching feelings again. 

“A Little Bit Of Love (Is All It Takes)” was the album’s second single, and as I’ve gotten older, I feel it’s a stronger song. The production is a bit funkier, and I could see Ricky or Bobby leading this one. The soaring ballad “With You All The Way” was the album’s final single. Carl Wurtz penned the tune, while George Tobin handled the production. Tresvant’s voice is in fine form in the song, and the lyrics sing about unconditional Love. When the song was popular, I’m sure many pre-teens were dedicating this song to their other half during the quiet storm. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing NE live close to twenty times, and this one sounds better live with Tresvant’s matured tenor.

The rest of “All For Love” follows the same formula as the previous album. Die-hard NE fans can tell you what songs are, in hindsight, remade from the last album with different lyrics. Nevertheless, the songs are fun and catchy and take us back to a simpler time. At age 41, I still tap my feet to “Sweet Thing,” “All For Love,” and the Brown-led “Who Do You Trust.”

As always, I prefer the ballads on the album, and NE delivers the goods. I will be a happy camper if the group adds snippets of “Lets Be Friends,” “Whispers in Bed,” and “Tonight’s Your Night” to the setlist for The Legacy Tour. And while it hasn’t aged well, “Kickback” is still better than some folk’s catalogs releasing music in 2022. 

Honestly, the only misstep on the album for me was “School,” which was a bit too sugary for my tastes. I will give the guys credit for getting a writing/producing credit with the song, but the B-Side ballad “Good Boys” from the pen of Ralph Tresvant and Ricky Bell. “School” would’ve done much better in a nationwide promotion with Scholastic book fairs because it feels out of place on the album.

When ranking the album discography of New Edition, All For Love comes in fifth place. Despite the cliches and formula, it’s a good album since I often revisit songs from the project,

 

Final Grade: B+

All For Love is available on all streaming platforms.

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