Picks and Pans Review: New Kids on the Block

updated 12/17/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/17/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Lynn Goldsmith

Once upon a time, worshiping a teen idol required only a modest cash outlay: a handful of magazines, a lunch box, maybe a poster or two. Today's parents must finance a crushing load of paraphernalia. (Okay, you wacky guys in merchandising, stand up and take a bow.) There are videos, T-shirts, sneakers, you name it. You can't even call your banker to arrange a line of credit, because your little darling has the phone tied up with a $2-a-minute 900 number, listening to her cherished one chatter.

This case in point is a coffee-table valentine that will put a deep dent in your wallet. At least it's well done. Goldsmith, the steadiest, most seasoned hand in rock photography, followed the New Kids, pop's big sensation, for three months, rounding up her best shots in this lavish gallery.

The book is organized by individual, and the judiciously selected photographs speak volumes about the boys' characters—or at least their images. Jordan Knight is the beefcupcake; Donnie Wahlberg is the rumpled man-child with a tender heart; Jordan's older brother Jonathan appears to be the most soulful and pensive of the lot—in many of his shots he looks close to tears; bodybuilding Danny Wood has the most intense and guarded visage; Joseph McIntyre is cuddly cute, with his apple-red cheeks and baby aquamarines.

Some of these pictures are truly beautiful, especially one of Joseph with his mother, in which their Irish sentimentality seems to flood the frame. Others are sanitized. We see the boys lined up in a locker room taking showers, but they're all wearing towels.

The photographs are accompanied by quotes from the boys in which they reflect on fame, feelings and, yes, sex. "I'm vulnerable when I'm in love," admits Jordan. "The peace sign I wear doesn't mean that I won't defend myself," warns Donnie.

Even for the unconverted, this is a lively book to leaf through. But for New Kids fans it is (sorry, Mom and Dad) indispensable. (Kodak/Rizzoli, $39.95; paper. $24.95)

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