Boyz II Men - Love (2009)

Boyz II Men
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Can somebody make ‘em stop with the covers? Please? Pretty please? I celebrated Boyz II Men's Motown: A Journey Through Hitsville USA project because the arrangements were inspired and the energy was electric from beginning to end. The guys selected songs that you hadn't heard in a while or were arranged and performed in ways that made you cheer Boyz II Men's creativity. That tribute album, which boasted string arrangements by Larry Gold, horns by The Dap Kings, and Luis Conte on percussion was a deserved success, perhaps their most successful album since their gold-selling Nathan Shawn Michael and Wanya. I guess the fellas decided not to mess with a winning formula, and so they rehired American Idol judge and Journey guitarist, Randy Jackson, to produce their third covers album in seven years.
Can somebody make ‘em stop with the covers? Please? Pretty please? I celebrated Boyz II Men's Motown: A Journey Through Hitsville USA project because the arrangements were inspired and the energy was electric from beginning to end. The guys selected songs that you hadn't heard in a while or were arranged and performed in ways that made you cheer Boyz II Men's creativity. That tribute album, which boasted string arrangements by Larry Gold, horns by The Dap Kings, and Luis Conte on percussion was a deserved success, perhaps their most successful album since their gold-selling Nathan Shawn Michael and Wanya. I guess the fellas decided not to mess with a winning formula, and so they rehired American Idol judge and Journey guitarist, Randy Jackson, to produce their third covers album in seven years. Only Love is a throwback to their disappointing Throwback project, or worse, the recent Ruben Studdard confection. With schmaltz-heavy material and by-the-book arrangements, this sugar overload lacks the technical prowess and magical energy of their near-classic Motown project.

Nothing is particularly bad on Love, it's just that nothing is particularly great on Love either. The victims of its own high bar, the best selling R&B group of all times harmonizes well enough on the project and none of the competent leads are out of tune, but no one really brings any surprises either. A few song selections are occasionally rare, such as the Goo Goo Dolls megahit "Iris" or Gary Barlow's "Back For Good," though Boyz take on these cuts is not. Most selections have been run into the ground like "I Can't Make You Love Me" and "Time After Time," which are both gorgeous songs, but did we really need another cover of these tunes? Really?

The theme is love throughout, but it's a running hand-in-hand through waist-high daisies kind of love, the kind we expect from say, Anne Murray. I suspect if Chicago's "If You Leave Me Now" had been left to Time-Life commercials for Soft Rock compilations, we would have lived. I suspect Journey alum Randy Jackson's A&R tastes had more to do with this diabetic coma than the veteran crooners from Philly. Of the saccharine divvied up, the power ballad "Open Arms" is the most palatable thanks to a strong lead by Wanya and lush signature harmonies by the trio. Still, only those who really heart Boyz II Men will find much to love about Love. Mildly recommended

By L. Michael Gipson

 

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