"I appreciate that."


On this day in music history: March 20, 1990 - “Poison”, the first album by Bell Biv DeVoe is released. Produced by Bell Biv DeVoe, Carl Bourelly, Elliott “Dr. Freeze” Straite, Darren LaVance “D’Lavance” Sullivan, Hank Shocklee, Keith Shocklee, Eric “Vietnam” Sadler (aka “The Bomb Squad”), Hiram Hicks,Timmy Gatling and Alton “Wokie Stewart, it is recorded at Echo Sound Studios, M’Bila Recording Studios in Los Angeles, CA, George Tobin Studio in North Hollywood, CA, Greene Street Studios, and Battery Studios in New York City from Mid 1989 - Early 1990. After the tour for their Double Platinum selling album “Heart Break”, New Edition lead vocalists Ralph Tresvant and Johnny Gill will both throw themselves into working on solo projects as the group takes what will be an extended hiatus. This opened ended down time will leave the other N.E. members, Ricky Bell, Ronnie DeVoe and Michael Bivins at somewhat loose ends as to what to do in the interim. Producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis will suggest to them that they form their own group. They will pitch the idea to MCA Records executive Jheryl Busby who will give the green light to the group to record an album. Initially intending to call themselves “Bell, Bivins & DeVoe”, they shorten it to “Bell Biv DeVoe”. The trio will work with a host of producers on the album including Public Enemy’s production team The Bomb Squad, Dr. Freeze (Color Me Badd), Carl Bourelly (D-Nice, Hi-Five), Alton “Wokie” Stewart (Stephanie Mills, Keith Sweat), and former Guy member Timmy Gatling. Considered the “dark horses” of New Edition, when word gets out that Ricky, Ronnie, and Mike are working on an album, expectations initially are not very high, until the first single drops. When the title track “Poison” (#1 R&B, #3 Pop) is released on February 24, 1990, fans and radio programmers are immediately taken aback by it. Razor sharp funky, street smart and infectious, the song is an instant smash, shooting to the top of the R&B singles chart less than two months after its release, making a fast crossover into the top five on the pop charts. The public is surprised yet again when the full album is released a month after the single. Its masterful blend of R&B, New Jack Swing, Hip Hop flavored beats, and innovative use of sampling (sparking the groups’ own description of its sound as “Hip Hop smoothed out on the R&B tip, with a pop feel appeal to it.”), will break new ground for mainstream R&B and pop music. It will spin off a total of five singles including “Do Me!” (#4 R&B, #3 Pop), “B.B.D. (I Thought It Was Me)?” (#1 R&B, #26 Pop), “When Will I See You Smile Again?” (#3 R&B, #63 Pop), and “She’s Dope!” (#9 R&B). Along with the major commercial success of “Poison”, in time it will come to be regarded as one of the best R&B albums of 90’s, marking the beginning of a sea change in R&B, opening the door for numerous artists that follow in the decade to come. A year and a half after the albums’ release, it will inspire a spin off remix album titled “WBBD-Bootcity!: The Remix Album”, featuring 12” remixes of several cuts. It too will be successful, going Gold by the end of 1991. “Poison” will spend two weeks at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number five on the Top 200, and is certified 4x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.