Last year, I joined Popdose‘s Jeff Giles and Robert Cass for a column called “‘Face Time,” in which we discussed essential (and some non-essential) cuts in the catalog of Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, one of the most prolific singer/songwriters of the ’80s and ’90s. ‘Face and his partner Antonio “L.A.” Reid were one of the big 3 production teams that ruled pop and R&B during that era. There was also Teddy Riley and his New Jack Swing camp, and perhaps most notably, Minneapolis’s James “Jimmy Jam” Harris III and Terry Lewis. The former members of Prince offshoot band The Time turned out to be legends in their own right, composing and producing hits for a who’s-who of the music industry and proving to be as (if not more) influential than their purple-clad benefactor.

So in 2014, the three of us (and two new team members, fellow Popdose editor/Popblerd podcast co-host Michael Parr, along with badass co-conspirator Dr. Zack) are back to talk all things Flyte Tyme.

Now let’s get smooth…

The Force M.D.’s-“Tender Love” (from the Krush Groove Original Soundtrack, 1985)

Written & Produced by Jam & Lewis

(Buy On Amazon)

Jeff:  1. I had no idea this was a Jam & Lewis joint. Perfect marriage of production and song. I could kiss it.

2. That guy stole Fred Berry’s hat!

3. Is this the set of 227?

Tender LoveMJ: This is a slow dance classic, man. One of-if not the best ballad Jam & Lewis have ever done.

J: Near as I could tell from my suburban vantage point, this song sparked the mini-revival of “street corner vibe” R&B tracks that continued with groups like Troop and Def Con 4. I miss this stuff.

MJ:  It definitely had a doo-wop vibe that was missing from much R&B in the mid Eighties. Force M.D.’s and New Edition had a nice friendly rivalry going on around this time. Interesting, then, that NE’s lengthy (and fruitful) association with Jam & Lewis began shortly after “Tender Love” became a hit. And…the Force MD‘s never made a record with Jimmy & Terry again.

Who the hell is Def Con 4?
J: Short-lived group that cut a record for Reprise in…1990, I think? They covered “Natural High.”


MJ: That’s about as obscure as obscure gets.

Dr. Z:  This is definitely a classic slow jam, but wow – they’re a little exaggerated in their mannerisms!

But seriously, what I think is important about “Tender Love” is that it reminds us that Jam & Lewis weren’t solely writing and producing synth-laden funk and pop. I admit that like most people, that’s the kind of material that comes to mind first when I think of Flyte Tyme. And while that material probably dominates our perceptions of the duo, they could craft a superb ballad as well. There are others for sure (perhaps more to come later in this series), but “Tender Love” has probably gotten lost in the shuffle with the passage of time

I am however, thrown off by the group’s misuse of the apostrophe. I was hoping that the punctuation flub was the fault of the YouTube uploader, but nay. Unless of course, it is actually meant to be possessive of the album title. (i.e. “The Force M.D.’s Love Letters” a la “Terrence Trent D’arby’s Symphony or Damn”).

I’m sorry, I’m teaching a writing class this semester.

MJ: Yeah–the misuse of the apostrophe isn’t a mistake. Well, it _is_ a mistake, but…you know what I mean.

It is interesting, to those that are aware of such things, I guess, that Jam & Lewis are best known to the general public for their dance songs. Their ballads are just as good in most cases, if not better.
While I don’t know that the average R&B fan can readily identify a Jam/Lewis song necessarily, I will say that, to their core audience, New Edition’s “Can You Stand The Rain” (a ballad) is probably the best known/most loved song they’ve worked on, though.
J: I prefer “Helplessly in Love”!
MJ: I would respectfully disagree. Although both songs are great.
Parr: It’s worth repeating that Jam and Lewis’ slow jams are just as, if not more, significant to the overall story.
And…YOUNT!!!

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