One of my most anticipated album releases of all time was New Edition’s 1996 reunion project, Home Again. Reunion talks were the wishes of every fan since lead vocalists Ralph Tresvant, Bobby Brown and Johnny Gill joined BBD members Ricky Bell, Ronnie DeVoe, and Michael Bivins for a surprise performance at the MTV Video Music Awards in 1990.
Given each member’s solo work’s success, the reunion project finally came to fruition around 1994 when the group began recording sessions for the project. “Hit Me Off” was the first single released from the project, released on August 2nd, 1996. Produced by Philip “Silky” White, the song was the perfect reintroduction for the group.
The album followed on September 10th, debuting at number one on the Billboard 200 charts. Home Again with the Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis production “Oh, Yeah, It Feels So Good,” which showcases each member’s vocal talent and has a concert-like feel. In fact, on the subsequent Home Again tour, “Oh, Yeah, It Feels So Good” was the opening song of the setlist.
One would think the group would’ve used producers Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis for the entire album, given the successful Heartbreak album’s successful formula. Surprisingly they reached out to Hip Hop producers Jermaine Dupri and Sean Combs to contribute. Dupri contributes “Tighten It Up” and the slow jam “Shop Around.” In contrast, Combs produced the songs “You Don’t Have To Worry” (the third single) and “Try Again.”
While up-tempo material has always been a strong suit for the group, the ballads are still my favorite from the Home Again project. Ralph, Johnny, Bobby, and Ricky are all in top form on the apologetic “Hear Me Out.” Similarly, the Gerald LeVert written “How Do You Like Your Love Served” is a sensual ditty that still sets the mood twenty-four years later.
Ricky Bell, who had spent the last six years singing lead vocals in Bell Biv DeVoe, showcases his pristine vocals on the Jam & Lewis written “One More Day.” Bell also shines with Ralph Tresvant on the angelic “I’m Still In Love With You,” another Jam & Lewis production. When we reach the album’s final title track “Home Again,” New Edition shows us why they are among the best groups of all time. Producers Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis give the group a Gospel centric song explaining the highs and lows of their career.
While I am a die-hard New Edition fan and rank Home Again as their second-best project, I have a few issues with the project as an adult. Lead singer Ralph Tresvant only has a chance to shine on “Something About You.” At the same time, Johnny Gill only has a Gospel interlude. I would’ve liked both of their voices to be used more throughout the project. Additionally, the group also worked with Jon B. on the still unreleased “Hey Girl.” The snippet I’ve heard of that song would’ve fit the project more than the filler track “Try Again.”
Home Again was a commercial success for the group, selling two million in the United States alone. Sadly primarily due to an ego driver tour, the reunion was short-lived. The group would go on an extended hiatus from 1997 until 2002 and wouldn’t release another album until 2004. Nevertheless, Home Again is a great reunion project that still holds up twenty-four years later.
Final Grade A –
Best Songs: All (even the filler tracks)
Home Again is available to stream on all platforms.