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DAR Music: 7 Classic R&B Albums From 1988

By @TrueGodImmortal 

1988. A wonderful year in music from hip hop to R&B. We have discussed this in detail before, with an overview of the year in music of course, but never pinpointed specific albums that weren pivotal to the genre. Today, we look back at 7 albums that are turning 30 this year, and were released in 1988. This is just a brief look and overview of the albums that made perhaps the greatest year ever in music so special. Which albums do we discuss? Let's take a look.

*Al B. Sure- In Effect Mode

-The unibrow king before Anthony Davis was wrecking the NBA, Al B. Sure was the man when he debuted in May 1988. With New Jack Swing music on the up and up in the genre, Al fit into the scheme perfectly and would become an instant star based on this album. As an artist, songwriter, and producer, Al B. would have his hands in every song on this record, a rarity for many artists at that time to produce and write their own work. With his mega hit "Nite and Day", the follow up classic single "Off On Your Own (Girl)", and some solid album tracks like "Naturally Mine" and "Just A Taste Of Lovin", he delivers an album that is honestly one of my favorites of the 80's and quite possibly one of the best albums  from the New Jack Swing era. This project turned 30 back in May.

*Bobby Brown- Don't Be Cruel

-We discussed the album in length a few weeks ago so I'll refrain from a long drawn out discussion on this classic album. This made Bobby Brown a certified star, as he would capitalize on the production and songwriting prowess of Babyface and L.A. Reid to reach newer heights with his sophomore album. This album was full of hit singles and classic music, from the title track to "Every Little Step" to "Rock Wit'cha" to "Roni" and more. Don't Be Cruel turned 30 a few weeks ago and it is still one of the greatest albums of all time without question IMO.

*Anita Baker- Giving The Best That I Got

-The truth is, Anita is a legend. She has been honored in recent memory, but she stands out to me as a legend in her class due to her consistency as an artist and her voice. Of course, Anita delivers another album that I believe is just as good as Rapture, her best work IMO. The production is rich, the vocals are what you expect from the most powerful voice in the genre (at the time, at least second to Whitney Houston), and with songs like the title track, "Just Because", "Good Love", and "You Belong To Me", she puts herself in the conversation for album of the year. This album turns 30 in August.

*Luther Vandross- Any Love

-We all know and love Luther for his rich voice and his catalog of great songs and singles. For me, I think the Any Love album is one of the rare occassions where Luther gets it 100% correct and it just so happens that it makes the list of classics turning 30 today. This album would see Grammy nominations and of course commercial success, as the hits kept coming over this short tracklist. The title track would be a big part of the success, while other songs like "Are You Gonna Love Me" and "For You To Love" are other highlights on this project as well. All in all, Luther delivers a solid album, perhaps his second best in his catalog. The album turns 30 in September.

*Sade- Stronger Than Pride

-We all know very well that Sade is a legend and an angel musically in so many ways. She has been a focal point of our musical lives for quite some time and her third album is one that stands as an underrated classic IMO. With beautiful production and amazing vocals, Sade delivers with true classic tracks like the title track, "Paradise", "Nothing Can Come Between Us",  "Keep Looking", and so many more over one of the most plush sounding albums of the year. This might be her most underrated album for sure and it turned 30 in April.

*Guy- Guy

-The debut album from the legendary trio was a landmark moment for the New Jack Swing era and the Teddy Riley produced project features nothing but hits. The sound is unique for the time, with the vocals being top notch throughout the album. The singles were the focal point of building the album, with "Round and Round (Merry Go 'Round Of Love)", "Groove Me", "I Like", "Teddy's Jam", and the all time classic "Piece Of My Love" being the highlights of this excellent debut. The album turned 30 in June.

*New Edition- Heartbreak

-We have to have a dialogue about how great New Edition became as they got into adulthood. Their best work didn't come in the years prior, but rather after their changes and group members departing and a new member joining the fold. This album saw the group work exclusively with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, and as expected, the results were amazing. From the anthems like "You're Not My Kind Of Girl" and "Boys To Men" to the smooth tracks like the hit singles "If It Isn't Love" and "Can You Stand The Rain", the group provides the smooth R&B that we would come to love them for. The album turned 30 in June.


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