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Cooleyhighharmony [Expanded Edition]

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Boyz II Men 5/26/2009

Review

No mere breakthrough, 1991's Cooleyhighharmony was one of the decade's biggest debuts, setting Boyz II Men well on their path to becoming what the RIAA certified the most successful R&B group of all time. Their sound, dubbed "hip-hop doo-wop" and aided in large part by the productions and arrangements of Dallas Austin, was a shrewd and flexible mix of contemporary and throwback elements. Fully exploiting the members' stunning vocal chops on ballads as a close harmony group, while hardly washed out when matched with densely layered upbeat material (new jack swing was still in full flight), the group put a mature collegiate spin on what were, at the time, the last two New Edition albums, updating the techniques reminiscent of the doo wop covered on Under the Blue Moon within a set that was as modern-sounding as the singles off Heart Break. It contains that rare mix of hot singles with several album cuts that could have just as easily been hits, the ultimate measure of a release that is both commercially and creatively successful. While the album was carried by four Top Ten R&B singles, two of which -- the swinging, anthemic "Motownphilly" and an a cappella version of the Cooley High soundtrack's "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday," the tear duct activator of 1991/1992 -- went Top Five on the pop chart, there is substantial depth. The non-single highlights include the sweet slow jam "This Is My Heart," sonically somewhere between Gwen Guthrie's "Outside in the Rain" and an organic Babyface ballad, and the frantic new jack swinger "Under Pressure," perhaps too much like "Motownphilly" or Dallas Austin's most chaotic Bomb Squad-inspired productions. In its original ten-song form, in fact, Cooleyhighharmony is a brisk 40-minute set built for front-to-back listening, though the sequencing is more natural with the "adagio" and "allegro" halves switched up. For many of those responsible for its multi-platinum status, it is the album of the early '90s, "Uhh Ahh"'s amusing libidinal melisma notwithstanding. [The Expanded Edition, released in May 2009 by Hip-O Select, contains the 1993 17-track version of the album on the first disc and a 13-track second disc filled with a pile of remixes -- a collector's dream -- as well as a pair of decent unreleased songs produced by Troy Taylor and Charles Farrar.] ~ Andy Kellman
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  1. # Track Artist Length
  2. 1 Please Don't Go Boyz II Men 4:22
  3. 2 Lonely Heart Boyz II Men 3:36
  4. 3 This Is My Heart Boyz II Men 3:21
  5. 4 Uhh Ahh Boyz II Men 3:47
  6. 5 It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday Boyz II Men 2:47
  7. 6 Motownphilly Boyz II Men 3:55
  8. 7 Under Pressure Boyz II Men 4:12
  9. 8 Sympin Boyz II Men 4:22
  10. 9 Little Things Boyz II Men 3:58
  11. 10 Your Love Boyz II Men 5:49
  12. 11 End of the Road Boyz II Men 5:48
  13. 12 In the Still of the Night (I'll Remember) [Cover] Boyz II Men 2:47
  14. 13 Uhh Ahh [Sequel Version] Boyz II Men 4:12
  15. 14 Motownphilly [Remix Radio Edit] Boyz II Men 3:49
  16. 15 Sympin [Remix Radio Edit] Boyz II Men 3:57
  17. 16 It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday [Radio Version] Boyz II Men 3:7
  18. 17 Al Final del Camino [End of the Road, Spanish Mix] Boyz II Men 5:49
  19. 1 Just a Cover Up [Previously Unreleased] Boyz II Men 5:22
  20. 2 Can't Be Liked [Previously Unreleased] Boyz II Men 5:49
  21. 3 Motownphilly [12" Version] Boyz II Men 5:39
  22. 4 Motownphilly [12" Dub] Boyz II Men 4:6
  23. 5 Motownphilly [Quiet Storm Mix] Boyz II Men 4:5
  24. 6 Under Pressure [Groovy Remix][Previously Unreleased] Boyz II Men 6:21
  25. 7 Under Pressure [Extended Remix][Previously Unreleased] Boyz II Men 6:30
  26. 8 Sympin [Remix Version] Boyz II Men 4:57
  27. 9 Sympin [Remix Radio Edit Without Rap] Boyz II Men 4:14
  28. 10 Uhh Ahh [Remix Version] Boyz II Men 4:47
  29. 11 Uhh Ahh [Sequel Version] Boyz II Men 4:47
  30. 12 Uhh Ahh [Sequel Version Acappella] Boyz II Men 4:47
  31. 13 It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday [Gospel Version with Dedication] Boyz II Men 4:13

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