#SkinnyBlackJams: Going Home Again

My February listening habits can be summed up in the following tweet.

By the middle of the month, I moved beyond the classics revisited in The New Edition Story (“You’re Not My Kind of Girl” got serious burn) and into their reunion album Home Again.

I loved the singles (see my praise of the “Hit Me Off” video last month), but in 1996, the album in its totality flew below my twelve-year-old radar.

It’s your favorite boy band as grown-ass, approaching 30-year-old men. (Side note: watch the videos. They were so damned fine). And it’s really fucking good.

Am I blinded by nostalgia? At its core music should feel good and Home Again does. I found myself shouting “Gotdammit! Why couldn’t y’all get along?!” while listening. From the opening track, “Oh Yeah, It Feels So Good,” you hear how amazing they sound as a sextet and remember that before Bobby did whatever the hell to his vocal cords, he held his own alongside Ronnie and Ricky (no one held their own with Johnny as much as they complemented him).

The singles “Hit Me Off,” “You Don’t Have to Worry,” “One More Day” and especially “I’m Still in Love With You,” hold up. Some tracks felt a little too 1996 (the Jermaine Dupri-produced “Shop Around” and “Tighten It Up”), but even those aren’t skip-worthy. “How Do You Like Your Love Served” (penned by the late, great Gerald Levert) has the fellas…well…serving up smooth, suited sex appeal.

The final song, title track “Home Again,” could’ve been the soundtrack to The New Edition Story. The ballad is a soaring love letter to the group itself where the guys wax poetic about their ups and downs to the refrain of “Can you stand the rain?” Knowing the Home Again Tour imploded makes Bobby’s lyrics bittersweet:

Just when I thought that we were through
I found my way right back to you
I can’t change what happened in the past
And won’t promise this time it would last
Can you stand the rain?”

And that is where I cussed at my radio. Imagine what could have been.

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