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, 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 the album "Heart Break”, New Edition lead vocalists Ralph Tresvant and Johnny Gill both throw themselves into recording solo projects as the group takes what is an extended hiatus. This down time leaves Ricky Bell, Ronnie DeVoe and Michael Bivins at loose ends as to what to do in the interim. Producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis suggest that they form their own group. Pitching the idea to MCA Records executive Jheryl Busby, he gives them the green light to record an album. Initially calling themselves “Bell, Bivins & DeVoe”, they shorten it to “Bell Biv DeVoe”. BBD 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 Timmy Gatling (formerly of Guy). Considered the “dark horses” of New Edition, when word gets out about the project, expectations are not very high. When the title track “Poison” (#1 R&B, #3 Pop) is released on February 24, 1990, the public are immediately taken aback by it. Razor sharp funky, street smart and infectious, the song is an instant smash. It shoots to the top of the R&B singles chart less than two months later, making a fast crossover to the pop charts.The public is surprised yet again when the full album appears. 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.”), breaks new ground for mainstream R&B and pop music. It spins 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). In time, “Poison”, comes 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 inspires a spin off remix album titled “WBBD-Bootcity!: The Remix Album”, featuring 12" remixes of several cuts. It too is successful, going Gold by the end of 1991. “Poison” spends 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.
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