Like many other gay teenagers in the nineties, I had the hugest crush on American sit-com star Joey Lawrence. He played the witless older brother of Blossom, in the TV show of the same name. His name in the pilot was Donnie Russo, which was changed in the episodes that followed to give him his own first moniker; Joey. A name which for obvious reasons suited him better. He stayed on the show for the full five seasons until it ended in 1995, and managed to find time for a shirt lived pop career in the middle. I loved the show as I did many similar shows at the time, but having this cute co-star made it even more appealing.
In 1993 Lawrence crossed over from from sitcom acting to music when he was released his debut single, Nothing my love can’t fix. I was already onboard from watching him on the show. He’d already become a centrefold in the pop music magazines such as Smash hits and Number One, so it seemed like a natural step. Everyone else was doing it. It was impossible for any young actor to do a stint in a show like Neighbours or Home & Away without a record deal.
Nothing my love can’t fix turned out to the one of the best pop songs of the nineties. Joey Lawrence was very much the teen idol during his shirt chart career, with a love of vest tops, getting his abs out, and hair that could only ever be acceptable in the nineties. All of which were reasons why I loved him.
The debut single was a top twenty hit here in the UK and was accompanied by a colourful video complete with graffiti art, cringey dance moves and lots of shots of a shirtless Lawrence on the beach. All if which
But let’s talk about that rap. Every pop song in the nineties had to have a rap section in the middle. Whilst acts employed well known rappers to feature on their tracks, Lawrence decided to go alone and create one if the worst rap section in the history of music. Skip to the last minute if the song if you want to see what I mean. I think he had his shirt off at the time, so I didn’t really notice at the time.
The self titled debut album was exactly what would have been expected for him to release. It fused R&B with pop and had the sound that was huge in the American charts at the time, with a few ballads thrown in for good measure. It went on the spawn a further two singles. The second song to be released was the opening track I cant help myself, which was the opening track from the album; another catchy pop dance track. As the first single, it was a minor top forty hit in the UK.
As was standard practice for any pop act of the time, the third single was the ballad release. There’s a handful to choose from on the album, but it was Stay forever that was released. A video was released along side the single, which showed a different side to the Lawrence than in the first two. Shot in sepia, it features four minutes of moody shots on the bed or belting it out on a candlelit piano. But fear nit, there’s still plenty of vest top shots. The album closes with another ballad, Read my eyes, which potentially could have been the better choice of third (and final) song from the album.
There were another couple of tracks that should have been singles; My Girl was a quirky pop track that used a hist of vocal sounds suck as beat boxing and tight harmonies to make up the production. Justa ‘Nother Love Song may be a grammatical nightmare, but was very much the sound of the time. Its hip-hop/R&B sound fitted along side huge hits like Bell Biv DeVoes Poison and MN8’s I’ve Got a Little Something For You that were big hits in the early nineties. Okay, so his does use his rapping ‘skills’ again, but you’ve got to take it for what it is.
But there were only going to be more singles released whilst the hits kept coming. Stay forever peaked just outside the too fort at number forty one.
Joey Lawrence has kept on working in TV and even had a second album a few years later. But it was this debut that was a forgotten pop gem that I’ll keep going back to.