New Edition: Bobby Brown, Ralph Tresvant, Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, Ronald DeVoe, Johnny Gill.
Recording information: UMG Recording Inc.
Photographers: Todd Gray; Eddie Wolfl; Angelica Chaplin; Carol Friedman.
Arranger: Maurice Starr.
An excellent idea that might be slightly disappointing in the execution, All the Number Ones collects 18 singles that topped Billboard magazine's R&B charts, all performed either by New Edition or its members in their various outside projects. That results in a terrific, endlessly playable collection of urban pop-soul and new jack swing, but it also means that several of the collective's best-known songs are left off simply because they didn't top the R&B charts. Missing in action are Bobby Brown's "Roni" and "Rock Wit'cha," Bell Biv DeVoe's "Do Me!," Johnny Gill's "Fairweather Friend," and Ralph Tresvant's "Stone Cold Gentleman" and "Do What I Gotta Do," plus a bevy of New Edition hits. In fact, it might have been an even better idea to gather the biggest hits by the various New Edition spin-offs and leave the parent group's output alone; such an approach would have erased the contrast between the early New Edition bubblegum singles that lead off this collection and the grittier, funkier new jack hits that follow. Still, at least these omissions are due to the compilation's stated intent (collecting All the Number Ones and nothing else), rather than a record-company marketing tactic. Even casual fans will undoubtedly miss at least a couple of the aforementioned hits, but really, what is here makes for a great listen and a fine introduction to one of the most influential R&B family trees of the '80s and early '90s. ~ Steve Huey