New Edition Talk Michael And The Jackson Five

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New Edition Talk Michael And The Jackson Five

  • on: January 10, 2012, 08:47:51 PM
New Edition celebrates 30 years of 'Candy Girl'
by Ed Masley - Dec. 27, 2011 03:48 PM
The Arizona Republic


New Edition was introduced as a new version of the Jackson 5, and you could definitely hear that in their breakthrough single "Candy Girl," which turns 29 next year.

The band quickly grew into a more adult sound, bouncing back from Bobby Brown's departure by recruiting Johnny Gill and bringing in new producers for the double-platinum "Heart Break."

Today, all six members are back together, due in part to the influence of the Jackson 5. New Edition, whose reunion tour swings through Phoenix on Friday, Dec. 30, reunited in 2009 to perform a medley as part of the Michael Jackson tribute at the BET Awards.

"I think that allowed this to happen ... I don't want to say a lot faster, but we felt a sense of urgency because of the fact that someone we loved passed away, and we felt like that was one of the things that allowed us to launch our career," Ricky Bell says. "That same medley was the medley that allowed us to get a recording contract. So MJ pulled us together, and we've been pretty much trying to solidify this ever since."

Ronnie DeVoe says, "That medley right there, when we were kids, before 'Candy Girl' came out, we would sit in a room and listen to that live album by the Jackson 5 and just close our eyes and imagine the possibilities."

Asked how it felt to be compared so often to the Jackson 5 when they were starting out, Bell says, "It's something that we definitely took as a compliment. We performed a lot of their songs in our shows, at talent shows, when we were trying to get started.

"And when 'Candy Girl' came out, it was definitely reminiscent of 'ABC' and the Jackson 5's whole sound. So we loved hearing that. After awhile, we wanted to get to a point where we established our own identity that, at some point, other artists would be compared to us.

"But just to be spoken in the same breath as the Jacksons and their legacy is something we'll never get tired of."

New Edition took a break in 1990, by which point Brown had established himself as a solo sensation, largely on the strength of "My Prerogative." Gill and Ralph Tresvant launched solo careers while the other three members -- Bell, Michael Bivins and DeVoe -- stayed together as Bell Biv DeVoe.

New Edition made their first reunion album, "Home Again," in 1996, with all six members taking part.

They may have moved on from the sound of "Candy Girl" on their recordings, but they don't mind dusting off those early hits in concert.

As DeVoe says, "We give 'em the classics when we perform. The good thing about having that longevity is that people grow with you, but they don't forget. They want to hear those songs, and it's only right that we give 'em to them. Certain hits, you'll always see in our show. And then there are other ones that we'll inject and take out at various times that may have been album favorites.

"But songs like 'Candy Girl' and (Bell Biv DeVoe's) 'Poison,' 'Can You Stand the Rain' or (Gill's) 'My, My, My,' certain songs that are classics, people want to hear them and they have to hear them."

It has been 15 years since New Edition's last Top 40 hit, "I'm Still in Love With You." But Gill says this still is his favorite era in the New Edition story.

"I don't know if it was Billy Joel, but I remember hearing a celebrity that had really high status say that the best time is right now," he says. "And I kind of feel that way as well because we've had so much history, but it's great to know that we still have the opportunity to get onstage and do something that we love to do and that the possibilities are endless.

"We've been blessed and fortunate that all of us are here and in great health and strength, and seeing so many around us, some of our great friends, that are just falling off, passing away, when you look back and think about the opportunities that we have, we're very fortunate."

And unlike New Kids on the Block or Backstreet Boys, they get to tour with a name that doesn't sound like something schoolkids should be using.

"When the name was given to us," Bell says, "it was because we were going to be something new that was introduced to the music industry, but it says something every time we have to reinvent ourselves, whether it's for a new tour, a new record, a new DVD that we're putting out, or some of the stuff that we're putting in place now with our life history in our book and our movie. To still be able to say New Edition, it feels fresh to a certain extent every time."


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