Throwback, Volume 1

Track Listing

Number Title Lyrics Stream Video
1Let It WhiplyricsN/AN/A
2Let's Stay TogetherlyricsN/AN/A
3What You Won't Do For LovelyricsN/AN/A
4Cutie PielyricsN/AN/A
5Close The DoorlyricsN/AN/A
6For The Love Of YoulyricsN/AN/A
7Pass You ByN/AN/Avideo
7Sara SmilelyricsN/AN/A
8Human NaturelyricsN/AN/A
9Time Will ReveallyricsN/AN/A
10I Miss YoulyricsN/AN/A
11You Make Me Feel Brand NewlyricsN/AN/A

Throwback, Volume 1 Review

Cover albums are a difficult thing to review. Do you review the tracks as if they were new entities or do you review them in comparison to the older tracks? Personally, I feel like the tracks should be looked at as independent efforts but I will try and make a comparison of the two versions at the end of each track.

The album kicks off with "Let It Whip," a remake of Dazz Band's single. The track's vocals don't seem to carry the group's usual punch, and the verses just lack their strength and emotion. The lyrics aren't anything to write home about but it's a cover song so I suppose that's beyond the group's control. The track's one success is its chorus in which the guys really seem to have fun. They play with their voices, adding a lively feel to its sound and getting you to move with it. Of course, the chorus plays quite a bit on the latter half of the song so I guess it better be good. How does it compare to Dazz Band's version: The track is a faithful following with an identical pace and many of the same background sounds. The chief trade is that Boyz II Men have a slightly greater emphasis on their vocals while Dazz Band has a richer collection of instruments in the beat.

"Let's Stay Together," a remake of Al Green's hit, has a nice sound to it. The song is VERY short, lacking a whole lot of meat to it, yet the verses within are nicely written and the song has a nice flow to it. How does it compare to Al Green's version: Like "Let It Whip," the track seems a very faithful cover. The only real difference in the track is a more modern sound with the vocals. What baffles me is why the guys didn't utilize any of their great harmonies here in an effort to try and put their own twist on Al Green's material.

In the third track of the album "What You Won't Do For Love," the group enlists the help of MC Lyte to remake the Bobby Caldwell track. As I expect with most people, I don't listen to Boyz II Men for the rap so the addition isn't great but it's still listenable. The guys do nice with the track though and the song is nicely arranged. The track seems to be constantly flowing and the chorus is almost hidden within the lyrics. How does it compare to Bobby Caldwell's version: The track seems to fit Caldwell's voice better than the Boyz and he seems to put a greater strength into it than the guys. Probably the biggest difference is the addition of a rap by MC Lyte which doesn't really make the new version better. On the upside, Boyz II Men eliminated a long instrumental that consumed the last minute and a half or so of the Caldwell version.

"Cutie Pie" kicks off with a lively sound as the group remakes the track by One Way. Despite the wild beat, the track quickly wears thin as the song is repetitive and the style of the vocals is more annoying than anything else. It really fails to show the guys strength and is a poor choice of efforts for them. The song is made worse by being overly long, dragging itself by playing a loop of the beat over and over. How does it compare to One Way's version: The track has a very similar beat and Boyz II Men's vocals sound like they were done to mimic the original version. The versions are comparable, but that doesn't say much as both versions are pretty bad.

Teddy Pendergrass's "Close The Door" is one of the bets tracks on the album. Nathan rips it up with some smooth vocals early on and the song has a nice flow to it as it seems to weave in and out through short, always different, yet very similar verses. The track has a very strong sexual message but it works nicely, removing itself from the raunchy sound seen in some of Full Circle. How does it compare to Pendergrass's version: While the guys can't compare to the rich sound of Pendergrass voice, they do a good job of putting their own sound into the track. Pendergrass still holds claim over the track with his strength but the guys put a good effort into it.

Seeming to have found their groove, "For The Love Of You" is a lengthy song at 5:41 but it packs a punch. The lyrics are beautiful, similar to Shawn Stockman's solo track "Visions of a Sunset" in its vivid imagery. There are beautiful lines throughout like "Drifting on a memory" and "Lovely as a ray of sun/ That touches me when the morning comes." The vocals are nice and the song feels like a boat ride through Venice, drifting slowly amidst a glorious feeling of love. How does it compare to The Isley Brothers version: The tracks are comparable with identical beats and similar vocals.

"Sara Smile," has a warm feeling to it with a very laid back beat. The song puts emphasis on the vocals with the beat only coming through in a nice instrumental near the end of the song. The chorus is great, with the guys vocals working well together. The track is short and while it is similar to "Let's Stay Together" in its lack of meat, the track manages to shine out anyway because of its solid vocals and powerful delivery. How does it compare to Hall and Oates version: The beat is far more dominant in the Hall & Oates version, which is a nice perk of the Boyz II Men version. The guys really get to show their vocals on this track and do a good job to rival the original, and exceed it in some ways (like their delivery on the chorus).

The eight track of the album is Boyz II Men's rendition of Michael Jackson's "Human Nature." The track works well with Shawn taking the lead on the verses. The lyrics are interesting, and the track has a nice flow to it with a neat stop and go feel on the chorus. The only big flaw of the song is its dragged out ending. Where the end of "Sara Smile" was a smooth relaxing repetition of the word smile, the repetition in "Human Nature" feels more annoying than anything else. How does it compare to Michael Jackson's version: The beat is far more dominant in Jackson's version as Boyz II Men seemed to have eliminated a great deal of the background sounds. Shawn can't quite compare to Michael's vocal performance here but I don't know if anyone could. Jackson's version is better, with the vocals carrying so much strength and feeling.

Deciding to take more creative action in their covers, "Time Will Reveal" shows the group going acapella. Remaking the DeBarge classic, the song is probably the best demonstration of the guys vocals as they really soar on this track. I wish the group had done some more interesting movements in the track as going acapella allows a lot of nice opportunities but alas, even as is, the group really shines. The only thing keeping the track from being perfect is that it gets repetitive near the end. How does it compare to DeBarge's version: This is probably the song in which the two versions are most different. The beat and greater involvement of the group as a whole in the DeBarge rendition gives it a very different feel than Boyz II Men's version. In addition, El had such a powerful belt in "Time Will Reveal" and the version just seems more concise, making DeBarge come out on top of Boyz II Men. Nevertheless, both versions of this track are tremendous.

My personal favorite on the album, "I Miss You" is the group's only cover of a female's track. A cover of the song by Klymaxx, the song features a message about longing and evolves nicely throughout as the guys begin to move on from the relationship. The chorus features some of the nice group mechanics I wished to see more of on "Time Will Reveal" and Wanya really lets it out on this one. How does it compare to Klymaxx version: The version by Boyz II Men seems to dominate here as the girls just don't have the same vocal strength. The chorus almost seems too blaring as the girls give the wrong emotion. In addition, the final verse just misses point. Still a good version, this is one song where Boyz II Men comes out on top with flying colors.

"You Make Me Feel Brand New" is a slow song in which the guys thank a friend for always being there for them and for filling a special need in their life. The vocals are nice though they don't vary much, and the song just has a nice feel to it throughout. The track is a bit slow but its well developed. How does it compare to Stylistics version: The versions are pretty similar, with a girl taking the place of some of Boyz II Men's lines but overall, the versions sound almost identical.

Overall, the album is a nice tribute to some of the classics of the 1970s and 80s. While the album is often too faithful to the tracks, with near identical beats and tempos, the tracks are enjoyable. To be near identical to these classics is a great compliment and in many cases, Boyz II Men does just that.

tl;dr: The album starts off slow with tracks that just don't work well to Boyz II Men's vocals and delivery but the group quickly settles into the mood. When all is said and done, the group delivers a tribute album that remains faithful and doesn't reinvent the wheel, but still delivers some great quality music. It's one of the group's most consistent albums to date.