Picks and Pans Review: Poison

updated 05/14/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/14/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Bell Biv DeVoe

What we have here is a quorum of the New Edition group busting out on their own. Ricky Bell, Michael "Biv" Bivins and Ronnie DeVoe have left behind bubblegum soul for a harder, more mature dance sound. This release, like so much of today's R&B—especially the new jack swing style this record embodies—stands pop music on its head. The splashy production often overshadows the material. You get so caught up in the drop-dead beats and cascading arrangements that you tune out the vocals. (Considering Bell's pipes, that's not a bad deal.)

A number of production teams worked on the project, including Hank Sadler and Keith and Hank Shocklee of Public Enemy renown, Timmy Gatlin and Alton Stewart, and Dr. Freeze and Spiderman. Everybody brought something to the soiree.

There's the rapped and sung "Dope," the elegant ballads "I Do Need You" and "When Will I See You Smile Again?," the tightly churning whirl of "Let Me Know Something" and, best of all, the sweet dance grooves of "Do Me" and "Poison," the latter with its Rosie the Riveter rhythm. BBD's debut has got "hit" written all over it. Come to think of it, the last guy who struck out on his own from New Edition did pretty good too. That was Bobby Brown. (MCA)

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