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Spring Album Roundup : Silk From The Streets

March 23, 1986|CONNIE JOHNSON

"CHILLIN'." Force M.D.'s. Tommy Boy.

This vocal quintet got its start by singing doo-wop on the Staten Island Ferry and on street corners in New York City, and on a good day it would rake in over $400. One listen to this polished and self-assured record will show why. Though linked to the New York hip-hop scene, the group's silky, falsetto-based style is closer to Philadelphia International's Intruders and Stylistics than it is to the Fat Boys (who do, however, make a guest appearance on one of the album's few rap-flavored tracks).

With its oldest member a mere 22, the youthful band sports gold jewelry, subtle makeup and fur coats on the album cover--but that still doesn't prevent them from resembling tough ex-gang members. That look contrasts sharply with the scrubbed innocence of the sound on teen-oriented tunes like "One Plus One" and "Will You Be My Girlfriend?" More comfortable with dreamy balladry than razor-edged rapping, the M.D.'s may not look as harmless as New Edition, but its love songs are equally sweet.

That's true of "Tender Love," a ballad that borders on the delicate. Produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis (and featured in the movie "Krush Groove"), the tune is unabashedly romantic. It even expresses the kind of soft sentiments that are incongruous with the group's New York City streets background. Talk about your misnomers! There's nothing forceful about the M.D.'s nor the warm and gentle finesse of its music.

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