On this day in music history: June 20, 1988 – “Don’t Be Cruel”, the second album by Bobby Brown is released. Produced by L.A. Reid, Babyface, Gene Griffin, Larry White and Bobby Brown, it is recorded at Silverlake Studios, Cherokee Studios in Hollywood, CA, Cochrane Studios in Studio City, CA, Axis Studios in New York City, Different Fur Studios in San Francisco, CA and Infinite Studios in Alameda, CA from Late 1987 – Mid 1988. Experiencing only modest sales with his solo debut album “King Of Stage” in spite of topping the R&B charts with the single “Girlfriend”, Bobby Brown looks to re-group and make a stronger album with his sophomore effort. The singer hooks up with producer and songwriters L.A. Reid and Babyface, though having just stepped away from their own band The Deele are already on their way to becoming commanding forces in the music industry. Brown also works with producer Gene Griffin, who then is mentoring and managing a young musician named Teddy Riley of the R&B band Guy. Though Riley is not properly credited as such at the time, he is instrumental in co-writing and producing the tracks he works on. Also looking to make the transition from teen age R&B singer to a more adult sound, Bobby works closely with his collaborators to make that happen. Dominated largely by L.A. and Face’s songs, the album’s opening salvo comes with the title track “Don’t Be Cruel” (#1 R&B, #8 Pop) released on May 16, 1988. The song quickly becomes a hit, becoming the first of three R&B chart toppers, also crossing over and hitting the top ten on the pop chart. It spins off four more singles including “My Prerogative” (#1 R&B and Pop), “Roni” (#2 R&B, #3 Pop), Every Little Step (#1 R&B, #3 Pop) and “Rock "Wit’cha” (#3 R&B, #7 Pop). The massive success of the “Don’t Be Cruel” album turns Bobby Brown into a major solo star, helping further popularize the New Jack Swing sub genre of R&B, and giving it mainstream crossover appeal. The album’s sales are such, that it generates a spin off remix album titled “Dance!… Ya Know It” in October of 1989. also going Platinum. Out of print on vinyl since 1989, “Don’t Be Cruel” is reissued on LP by Get On Down Records in 2014. “Don’t Be Cruel” spends nine weeks at number one (non-consecutive) on the Billboard R&B album chart, six weeks at number one (non-consecutive) on the Top 200, and is certified 7x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
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