One Love But Two Sounds: Classic New Edition And ’04 BBD Flow

Disc is veteran R&B group's first for P. Diddy's Bad Boy label.

As a group, New Edition have been together longer than plenty of marriages, so it made perfect sense for the group to engage in nuptials together.

Ricky Bell and his fiancee recently tied the knot alongside Ralph Tresvant and the leading lady of his life with a double wedding. The remaining members of New Edition — Michael Bivens, Johnny Gill and Ronnie DeVoe — also participated.

“It was the best experience of my life,” Bell said. “Me and Ralph were best friends, we were engaged at the same time. It was actually his idea. We figured, hey, rather than have a whole month or a couple weeks of planning for two weddings — and we wanted each other involved in our wedding ceremony, along with the rest of the guys in the group — we said, ‘Why not? Let’s make it an event and do it together.’ It worked out nice. The best part about it was to have everybody in the group involved in it. Mike was my best man. Johnny and Ron were groomsmen.”

A little over a year ago, New Edition engaged in a different type of marriage ceremony with Sean “P. Diddy” Combs. They signed a contract with Bad Boy, and their first release on Diddy’s label, One Love, drops Tuesday. The single “Hot2Nite” is out now.

“It feels good to be able to put out some new music,” Bivens said. “We’ve been on tour and doing shows since the summer of 2002. And finally we got a chance to put out a new record and help the concerts, ’cause that’s what we do all year long. Walking around, seeing the faces recognizing us from being on TV, that’s kind of special. It’s a younger audience, and they connected to the ‘Hot2Nite’ video. With all the hard work we been putting in for these 25 years, it’s paying off. The tours are doing well, and we don’t have to worry about the record label taking all our money, ’cause we make our money on the road. Our fans love to see us.”

“Being on Bad Boy is like any other label,” Bell said. “The upside is that Puff is enthusiastic about the project. He gives a lot of energy. We’ve learned a lot in the business since the 20 years we’ve been in. We know our image and we know the way we like to be seen and marketed. He’s given us the other side. It’s a balance of re-establishing ourselves in the business with the fans that have grown up with New Edition and introducing us to a whole new audience. Puff is defiantly bringing it to the table and just mixing the old and the new, giving us a whole new sound.”

Not entirely. Songs like “All on You” find DeVoe and Bivens bringing the BBD flow up to date, but on “That’s Why I Lied,” the vintage New Edition sound shines through.

“It’s no kisses for you when I’m leaving in the morning,” a remorseful Tresvant sings. “It’s no roses for you when I know I’ve hurt your feelings/ I don’t know what happened to us, I never saw it coming.” Later on in the track, he tells his wife he was late: He was working, but it wasn’t at his office — it was in a suite in the Marriott.

Gill came up with the concept for the song. ” ‘That’s Why I Lied’ is talking about a situation with a man talking about the reason he lied [to his wife]. It’s to protect his home and her,” Gill explained. “Sometimes in our relationships we do things we may not necessarily be proud of and we have to work with it the best way we can. There’s some consequences behind our actions. With this song, it doesn’t justify a person lying, but it justifies why he did what he did.”

Gill takes the lead on another ballad, “Come Home With Me,” which the fellas say should go over with the ladies on tour. “I’m standing here all alone, this night’s about to end,” Gill sings. “I’m looking for somebody to wild out with me, sexually.”

“It’s like you’re trying to pick somebody out of the audience,” Tresvant said. “It’s a perfect concert song.”

Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis check in on “Come Home With Me” and “Newness,” on which the guys sing about the constant rekindling of a flame.

“It’s a relationship song,” Bell said. “A guy is saying to his girl, ‘Every time I see you, it’s new all over again. Just like the first time we met. I get that same feeling of falling in love with you all over again. Every time we miss each and I see your face again, it’s new again.’ And we’re New Edition, so we’re always trying to bring the newness.”

For now, there are no plans in place to add a new edition to New Edition, though there has been talk of founding member Bobby Brown rejoining his crew for a song or performance.

“It’s been expected,” Bell said. “It’s not annoying. We expect people to ask about Bobby. ‘Is he gonna be a part of it at some point?’ Like we tell anyone else, Bobby has an open door to New Edition. … As far as Bobby being in the group and coming and being down for the duration of New Edition, that probably won’t happen. As far as him coming in and doing a song here or there, it’s just a matter of when the time permits and when he feels like he wants to be down. That door is always open.”

Whether or not Bob gets up with his homies from Beantown is still up in the air, but New Edition have been talking to other icons from the ’80s and ’90s about hitting the road. They have 20 U.S. tour dates coming up in December, and names that have been floating around to join them include Guy and Jodeci.

Besides Jam and Lewis, other One Love producers include P. Diddy, Mario Winans, Andre Harris and Vidal Davis, and Ron “Neff-U” Feemster.