Sneaking into the backstage to sing for Bell Biv DeVoe's Michael Bivins was the gutsy, but worthwhile move that lit up the career for Boyz II Men. They made an immediate impression by singing an a cappella version of “Can You Stand The Rain”, which had originally been performed by Bivins' former group, New Edition. The quartet was signed to Motown records and soon saw their fame explode upon the 1991 release of the debut album, “Cooleyhighharmony” (from the '70s film, Cooley High, to which the title paid tribute). The group topped R&B charts with the release of their first single, the dance-oriented “Motownphilly”, which featured Bivins rapping alongside the smooth and polished harmonies of the soulful four. This success was followed up by the powerful and riveting a cappella cover of “It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday”. As if the success from the original album wasn't enough, in 1993 the group released an extended version of “Cooleyhighharmony” which included remixes, a cover of the 1956 hit, “In The Still of the Night”(originally performed by the Five Satins) and the record-breaking hit, “End of the Road” which was recorded for Eddie Murphy's Boomerang soundtrack.Boyz II Men showcased profound harmonies delivered by Shawn Stockman's refined and smooth tenor voice, Wanya Morris' commanding and vibrato-laden tenor vocals, Nathan Morris' full baritone sound, and the deep rhythmic purring bass of Michael McCary. The fantastic four brought us an innovative sound, featuring the balanced and seemingly effortless trade-off of leads between members rather than the traditional R&B arrangements highlighting one or two lead vocalists with backup singers. Their debut album represents a talented group of young vocalists solidly establishing their niche among the realms of both up tempo street beats and heartfelt romantic ballads. The savvy combination of their 60's soul roots with the urban trend of New Jack Swing makes them, undoubtedly, one of the top R&B groups of all time.
By Amy B. Ware