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Johnny Gill

Johnny Gill

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Album Review

Johnny Gill re-established himself as a solo artist in 1990, and he did so in tremendous fashion, recording an astonishing self-titled debut for Motown that brought together the hitmaking duos Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis and L.A. & Babyface to produce an album chock-full of hits. The combination of these two duos was unprecedented. Along with Teddy Riley, they had dominated late-'80s urban radio, utterly and absolutely, churning out hit after hit after hit and co-defining the burgeoning new jack swing movement in the process. Gill likewise had recently experienced enormous success during the late '80s when, following two flat solo albums for Atlantic, he joined New Edition for its Heart Break album and its long run of hits, including "Can You Stand the Rain," a number one hit that featured him prominently. Thus it was only fitting that Motown's visionary teaming of these artists at their respective primes culminated in a set of wonderful songs, chief among them "Rub You the Right Way" (a Jam & Lewis production) and "My, My, My" (L.A. & Babyface). The former was a high-energy, pleading chart-stormer that infiltrated urban radio with brute force and sent Gill straight up the charts in the process; the song furthermore became a coast-to-coast club favorite — and remained so for years upon years afterward, standing tall as one of the definitive new jack swing anthems of the era. The latter was the yin to "Rub You the Right Way"'s yang; it became a quiet storm favorite and even crossed over to the pop and smooth jazz markets, reprising many of the same qualities that had made Babyface's own "Whip Appeal" single such an across-the-board chart-topper only a year earlier. While nothing else on Johnny Gill quite rivaled "Rub You the Right Way" and "My, My, My," the remainder of the album still had more than its fair share of highlights. There was a second round of singles ("Fairweather Friend" was another new jack stepper, "Wrap My Body Tight" another slow jam), as well as a couple of excellent album tracks ("Feels So Much Better" and "Giving My All to You") that could have been hits for anyone else. But after four singles and a good year or so of chart saturation, Gill and Motown collected their winnings and moved on. To the continual frustration of the singer, he would be forever dogged by this unduplicatable success, an album so massive, so epochal it would become, in a sense, his ultimate legacy. And a fine legacy it is, indeed.

Biography

Born: 22 May 1966 in Washington D.C.

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

A singer behind eight solo and duet Top Ten R&B hits, as well as a member of New Edition since 1987, Johnny Gill was born in Washington, D.C., and began singing at a young age, beside his brothers in the gospel group Wings of Faith. His solo career began in 1983, when he signed to the Atlantic-affiliated Cotillion label and scored a number 29 R&B hit with his first single, the Freddie Perren-produced "Super Love." Even then, Gill had a mature and muscular voice — one that sounded more...
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Johnny Gill, Johnny Gill
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