“Motownphilly's back again / Doin' a little east coast swing / Boyz II Men going off / Not too hard, not too soft.”
Ah, memories. It’s tough to fathom that more than 25 years have passed since our ears were first blessed by the fresh, distinctive harmonies and new jack melodies of a fledgling group straight outta Philadelphia, PA. Backed by the famed Motown Records and Biv 10 Records founder Michael Bivins, Boyz II Men redefined crossover R&B in the first half of the ‘90s, just as their mentor’s group New Edition did in the previous decade.
Largely helmed by Bivins and producer extraordinaire Dallas Austin, the group’s breakthrough debut LP Cooleyhighharmony announced the arrival of the ambitious, remarkably gifted vocal quartet comprised of Mike McCary, Nathan Morris, Wanya Morris, and Shawn Stockman. While most will likely recall the album’s chartbusting singles “Motownphilly” and “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” (a cover of the original G.C. Cameron version featured in the 1975 film Cooley High), the entire record is defined by standout songs, from beginning to end.
Three and a half years later, and following the chart-topping success of “End of the Road” which originally featured on the Boomerang soundtrack (1992), the foursome released their sophomore album, the appropriately titled II. Featuring a more expansive team of top-notch producers including Babyface (“I’ll Make Love to You,” “Water Runs Dry”) and Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis (“On Bended Knee,” “All Around the World”), II solidified Boyz II Men’s rightful place as one of the most successful R&B and pop acts of the decade. To date, II has been certified 12x platinum (reflective of 12 million copies shipped) by the RIAA, while its precursor has garnered a slightly more modest 9x platinum tag.
This Friday, August 19th, both Grammy-winning albums are set to be reissued on vinyl, and we’ve already cleared room on our shelves. Reserve your copies of each now and while you wait for them to arrive, check out a few throwback Boyz II Men videos below.
PRE-ORDER Boyz II Men’s Cooleyhighharmony and II vinyl reissues via Amazon