Bell Biv DeVoe: Ricky Bell, Bichael Bivens, Ronnie DeVoe.
Includes liner notes by A. Scott Galloway.
Liner Note Author: A. Scott Galloway.
Photographers: David Roth; Gerhard Yurkovic.
On the one hand, Bell Biv DeVoe deserves a good best-of compilation -- they were one of the freshest-sounding new jack swing acts to hit the charts during the style's early-'90s heyday. On the other hand, they only recorded two albums during that heyday (not counting a remix album), and their third wasn't released until after this 2000 compilation, The Best of Bell Biv DeVoe. Thus, listeners get five tracks from the group's blockbuster debut, Poison; six from their decent but less-inventive follow-up, Hootie Mack; the non-LP single "Gangsta"; and four tracks from the aforementioned remix album, WBBD-Bootcity!, including the otherwise-unavailable single "Word to the Mutha." Aside from Hootie Mack's "Something in Your Eyes" (an R&B Top Ten), all of the group's biggest hits came from Poison -- the crossover smashes "Poison" and "Do Me!," the R&B chart-topper "B.B.D. (I Thought It Was Me)?," and the R&B Top Tens "When Will I See You Smile Again?" and "She's Dope." As such, casual fans might be just as happy with the mid-priced compilation 20th Century Masters -- The Millennium Collection, which -- even though it features fewer songs -- still has all their major hits, and costs a few dollars less. But for more devoted fans who want a generous BBD compilation, The Best of Bell Biv DeVoe does have all their best moments in one place, and makes for an excellent summary of why they were important to the development of '90s R&B. ~ Steve Huey