Al B. Sure! (who was an Uptown/MCA affiliate) was added to the bill of New Edition’s 1988 Heartbreak Tour. His debut LP “In Effect Mode” was powered by the hit single “Nite And Day” and it would drop on Warner Bros. two weeks before Bobby Brown’s “Don’t Be Cruel” hit the airwaves for the first time. In addition, Al B. Sure’s album would only drop seven weeks before both Bobby Brown and New Edition’s albums were released in June 1988. This entire plan was a huge gamble but it all paid off the second “Don’t Be Cruel” hit radio and the video entered the rotation on BET, entered the Billboard Pop charts and cracked regular rotation on MTV. It was a breakout hit out of the gate.
Shortly after Bobby Brown released “Don’t Be Cruel,” Al B. Sure’s second single “Off On Your Own (Girl)” dropped. Both songs steadily climbed the charts until “Don’t Be Cruel” hit #1 on the R&B/Soul charts. However, it was replaced at the top by his tourmate Al B. Sure’s second single in August 1988. During the time both songs were ascending the charts, New Edition was getting started filming videos and doing shows to build anticipation for their upcoming album.
New Edition wouldn’t have much downtime to film videos on tour as it would serve to promote their album plus drive up sales throughout it’s duration. If you remember correctly, most of the New Edition videos from “Heart Break” were centered around them either getting ready to go on tour (“If It Isn’t Love”), being on tour (“You’re Not My Kind Of Girl”), a live video from the tour (“Crucial”) then later the group coming home from touring (“N.E. Heart Break”) (the lone exception being “Can You Stand The Rain”). Execution had to be perfect and timing was crucial.
On June 20, 1988 MCA Records released both Bobby Brown’s “Don’t Be Cruel” powered by the hit lead single of the same name and New Edition’s “Heart Break.” To further hammer home how epic the Summer of 1988 was for Black music, the previous week MCA Records released Guy’s debut album and we were only a month and some change removed from Al B. Sure! Dropping “In Effect Mode.”
The hit songs at the time both albums were released were from Pebbles (“Mercedes Boy”, produced by L.A. Reid & Babyface), Johnny Kemp (“Just Got Paid, produced by Teddy Riley), “Groove Me” by Guy (also produced by Teddy Riley) and the debut single “Little Walter” by a group called Tony! Toni! Toné! who were produced by Foster & McElroy. Competition in R&B was at its fiercest but they were more than up to the task. “Heart Break” went Gold in two months and Platinum only a month later thanks to the singles “If It Isn’t Love” and “You’re Not My Kind Of Girl.” The videos for both songs played on both BET and MTV. New Edition had crossed over to the Billboard Pop charts but Bobby Brown completely obliterated them.