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Forums > Music: Non-Prince > Bobby Brown - Don't Be Cruel: 30th Anniversary Thread
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Thread started 05/19/18 12:00pm

JabarR74

Bobby Brown - Don't Be Cruel: 30th Anniversary Thread

To honor the upcoming miniseries, "The Bobby Brown Story" this September on BET. Bobby Brown's 2nd album, "Don't Be Cruel" (just like New Edition: Heart Break) will celebrate its 30th anniversary next month. Co-writing and working with producers, Antonio "L.A." Reid, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, Teddy Riley and Gordon Jones, Don't Be Cruel would set Bobby apart from his first album, "King Of Stage" and anything he's done with New Edition and would make him into a superstar in his own right!

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Reply #1 posted 05/20/18 3:24am

domainator2010

I loved "Dont Be Cruel" back in 88 smile

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Reply #2 posted 05/20/18 5:10pm

AlexdeParis

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music

"Whitney was purely and simply one of a kind." ~ Clive Davis
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Reply #3 posted 05/20/18 5:38pm

Goddess4Real

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Bobby Brown on Video Soul Jan 1989 with Donnie Simpson

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Reply #4 posted 05/20/18 5:40pm

Goddess4Real

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CLASSIC VIDEO SOUL WITH BOBBY BROWN (1988)

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Reply #5 posted 05/20/18 5:42pm

Goddess4Real

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Bobby Brown...young, in his prime, rare interview, before Whitney and reality tv (1989)

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Reply #6 posted 05/20/18 5:45pm

Goddess4Real

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EXCLUSIVE BOBBY BROWN AFTER BEING KICKED OUT OF NEW EDITION on Upfront by filmmaker Keith O'Derek (1988)

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Reply #7 posted 05/20/18 5:47pm

Goddess4Real

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Bobby Brown - Megamix (1989)

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Reply #8 posted 05/20/18 5:50pm

Goddess4Real

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Bobby Brown interview on Arsenio Hall (1989)

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Reply #9 posted 05/20/18 8:31pm

206Michelle

I bought this album in the early 2000s. I had fallen in love with New Jack Swing. I really like the album and my favorite song from it is Roni.
[Edited 5/20/18 20:32pm]
Live 4 Love ~ Love is God, God is love, Girls and boys love God above
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Reply #10 posted 05/20/18 8:59pm

UncleGrandpa

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This era was the perfect combination of a charismatic singer, great producers with even better songs and the new groove of the radio, instant stardom. I was in high school at the time, both he and New Edition grew up well with the unique sound.

Jeux Sans Frontiers
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Reply #11 posted 05/21/18 5:26am

Derek1984

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I probably listen to I'll Be Good To You, Take It Slow, Day and Night more than anything else on this album. Maybe because the rest got so much airplay. I Really Love You Girl sounds like a King of Stage B-side or something put together last minute just to get another track added to the album.

This album proved Bobby really did have a lot of talent, he just needed to stay focused and have a good production team around him.

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Reply #12 posted 05/22/18 9:21pm

ThePanther

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My best friend, who's now an Art Theory academic, bought me this album for my 13th (?) birthday in 1989.

Bobby Brown is one of those guys who did not age well. He looked cool (for the era) when he was 20, but after about 25 not so much. (Drugs probably didn't help!)

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Reply #13 posted 05/23/18 8:35am

paisleypark4

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https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Cruel-Expanded-Bobby-Brown/dp/B01N9R1ZOH
Don't Be Cruel (Expanded)

This album has been expanded to a 2 disc from Geffen Records last year make sure to cop that

Download all the shit hop that you can for your kids, neices, nephews, and their friends also. That will prevent them from going out and buying it and will prevent some shit hop sales. Every little bit helps - Andy
http://www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemus
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Reply #14 posted 05/24/18 12:04pm

Cinny

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ThePanther said:

My best friend, who's now an Art Theory academic, bought me this album for my 13th (?) birthday in 1989.

Bobby Brown is one of those guys who did not age well. He looked cool (for the era) when he was 20, but after about 25 not so much. (Drugs probably didn't help!)


If you kinda look at New Edition as just a boy band, it makes sense that his career would suffer if his looks did. Show business can be cruel, like the album title.

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Reply #15 posted 05/24/18 12:04pm

Cinny

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paisleypark4 said:

https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Cruel-Expanded-Bobby-Brown/dp/B01N9R1ZOH
Don't Be Cruel (Expanded)

This album has been expanded to a 2 disc from Geffen Records last year make sure to cop that


You know I already copped every 12" there was.

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Reply #16 posted 05/24/18 12:37pm

paisleypark4

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Cinny said:

paisleypark4 said:

https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Cruel-Expanded-Bobby-Brown/dp/B01N9R1ZOH


You know I already copped every 12" there was.

hahahah

Download all the shit hop that you can for your kids, neices, nephews, and their friends also. That will prevent them from going out and buying it and will prevent some shit hop sales. Every little bit helps - Andy
http://www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemus
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Reply #17 posted 05/27/18 9:43pm

206Michelle

ThePanther said:

My best friend, who's now an Art Theory academic, bought me this album for my 13th (?) birthday in 1989.

Bobby Brown is one of those guys who did not age well. He looked cool (for the era) when he was 20, but after about 25 not so much. (Drugs probably didn't help!)

His voice is nothing special either.

Live 4 Love ~ Love is God, God is love, Girls and boys love God above
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Reply #18 posted 05/28/18 6:49am

TD3

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Cinny said:

paisleypark4 said:

https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Cruel-Expanded-Bobby-Brown/dp/B01N9R1ZOH
Don't Be Cruel (Expanded)

This album has been expanded to a 2 disc from Geffen Records last year make sure to cop that


You know I already copped every 12" there was.

Uh, no pics of the album, CD, and cassette? You slipping Cinny! biggrin lol lol lol

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Reply #19 posted 05/30/18 6:20pm

Asenath

He couldn't be touched.

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Reply #20 posted 05/31/18 5:50am

missfee

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music The cassette tape of this album was gifted to me for my 6th birthday when this came out....and I still have it to this day...even though I can't play it anymore. lol Album is a true R&B classic. This was Bobby at his absolute best. nod

[Edited 5/31/18 5:51am]

I will forever love and miss you...my sweet Prince.
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Reply #21 posted 05/31/18 9:48pm

Goddess4Real

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Asenath said:

He couldn't be touched.

yeahthat

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Reply #22 posted 06/03/18 1:46pm

Tontoman22

biggrin

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Reply #23 posted 06/18/18 8:34am

JabarR74

Bobby Brown’s ‘Don’...rospective

Happy 30th Anniversary to Bobby Brown’s second studio album Don’t Be Cruel, originally released June 20, 1988.


The rise of an artist can be a funny thing. When you discover them greatly informs your perception of their career. Take Bobby Brown for example. As a kid growing up in Australia, I was aware of him as part of New Edition, but his 1986 debut solo album King of Stage didn’t really hit it big down under (or anywhere, for that matter). So when Brown unveiled his follow-up Don’t Be Cruel in 1988 (on the same day that his former group New Edition released their fifth studio album Heart Break), I was under the (misguided) impression that this was his debut effort.

It wasn’t until Brown toured Australia in support of Don’t Be Cruel that I was introduced to King album tracks like “Girlfriend” and “You Ain’t Been Loved Right.” For me, and I’d assume many others, Don’t Be Cruel was the debut album Brown deserved rather than the forgettable King of Stage. (Side note: it was a dismal concert with Brown shouting his way through songs rather than singing, and if memory serves me correctly, extended periods of dry humping the floor. But I was obviously a glutton for punishment as I returned several years later for the Humpin’ Around Tour too, which was equally spectacularly disappointing.)

What Don’t Be Cruel has going for it are the songs, the production team helmed by the dynamic duo L.A Reid and Babyface and then up-and-coming producer and New Jack Swing pioneer Teddy Riley (though his work is uncredited), and of course, Bobby Brown, swinging the right mix of braggadocio, bravado and seduction throughout the album.

Whilst the recording process was plagued by Brown’s absence due to an increasing drug dependence, most of the behind-the-scenes drama didn’t make its way into the grooves of the tracks (at least, not noticeably at the time). What remains is a solid R&B album that straddles the modern blueprint set by the likes of Michael Jackson and Prince coupled with the emerging influence of New Jack Swing.

The idea to bookend the album with the “Cruel” prelude and reprise came from a dearth in material and something needed to pad out the album’s track list, but at the time it felt like the opening and closing credits of a film.

So with the album proper starting with “Don’t Be Cruel,” Brown uses the sweetness and range in his voice to great effect in the verses, and the addition of the rap (an ever increasing signature on this album) feels like a natural fit with the track rather than an of-the-moment gimmicky tack-on. The instant the groove hits, with its slight shuffle and reverb-heavy sonic claps, you knew this would be a song that would drag many to the dance floor. With an almost seven-minute run time, the track does tend to overstay its welcome post the five minute mark, offering little variation. But it stills holds a definite tinge of nostalgia to it.

“My Prerogative” produced by an uncredited Teddy Riley, is the standout track on the album. With its early New Jack Swing influence, “My Prerogative” hits you from beat one. With a fuller arrangement than the sparse “Don’t Be Cruel,” the track has a swagger to it that is as much about the groove as it is about Brown’s vocal delivery. Giving a bit of attitude to the track, Brown owns the lyrics and gives each word more gravitas. This was a landmark track not just for Brown, but also for the burgeoning New Jack Swing movement that would dominate the charts for years to come. As for Teddy Riley not getting credit for the track, his influence is undeniable especially considering Brown’s shout-out during the ad libs.

Borrowing a phrase from Michael Jackson’s “P.Y.T.,” Babyface created a smooth as silk seductive slow jam in “Roni” that allowed Brown to put his charm and bag of seduction to good use. The stacked harmonies in the pre-chorus pull you in and deliver on the chorus. Brown’s spoken word/rap section is a little cringe-worthy and comes off as a poor man’s LL Cool J, and fails on the “come on” meter. Strangely enough, during the second pass, when the words are sung more than rapped, the infraction doesn’t seem as sever.

The candle light seduction continues with “Rock Wit’cha,” but the song only really comes together in the chorus and has somewhat tepid verses. However, with that melodic hook in the chorus it was enough to have the song worthy of a single release.

And who can forget “Every Little Step” with that new jack swagger and skipping beat. The joyous, feel-good track of the album, the song is all bright and bouncy with Brown’s vocals filling out the sparse arrangement. Whilst rumors have surfaced that perhaps Brown didn’t fulfil all lead vocal duties, with Ralph Tresvant reportedly brought in to finish off the lead due to Brown being off on a bender (and the second verse does have a slight difference in tone which could be Tresvant). Regardless, “Every Little Step” was the breakout hit of the album and it still possesses the ability to get your head bobbing and feet yearning to bust out the running man.

With the previous songs holding down the lion’s share of the album, it’s at this juncture that the album loses steam. “I’ll Be Good To You” is a cool enough song that smacks of being another (uncredited) Teddy Riley track, and perhaps feels more aligned to Guy’s eponymous debut album that came out a week prior to Don’t Be Cruel.

“Take It Slow” and “All Day All Night” are standard by-the-numbers R&B fare that was being offered by the dozen at the time. And album closer “I Really Love You” remains unfocused and unfinished, suffering from a terrible mix.

But by then, it didn’t matter. The hook and appeal of the first five songs are what carried the album. With five Top Ten Singles and over seven million in sales, Don’t Be Cruel set Bobby Brown up as the new star for an emerging sound, and for a period of time he was the most exciting male artist on the planet.

While the 1992 follow-up Bobby was more consistent and musically stronger, Don’t Be Cruel was Brown’s shining moment. 30 years on, it’s a fun nostalgic trip with some solid tracks, but perhaps your memories are better served spinning the singles rather than the album in its entirety.

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