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Older Kids sing on a new block

Sat., Nov. 22, 2008, midnight

The New Kids are back on the Block. The popular ’80s group has a new CD – naturally titled “The Block” – and is touring.

And if the guys have anything to do with it, they’ll keep it going.

“If everyone stays happy – meaning us, meaning the fans, meaning the record label – then we’ll keep going,” singer Jordan Knight said from a tour stop in Minneapolis.

“We do all have five different lives and paths and stuff like that. But if God is willing and it keeps working, we’ll keep doing it.”

The group also still includes Donnie Wahlberg, Jonathan Knight, Danny Wood and Joey McIntyre.

Fans probably recall NKOTB hits “Step By Step,” “Hangin’ Tough,” “You Got It (The Right Stuff)” and “I’ll Be Loving You (Forever).”

“The tour has been very successful,” Jordan Knight says. “A lot of people are telling us that coming to our show made them feel young again and that it takes them away from the hum-drum of everyday.”

The concert is “good, old-fashioned entertainment,” he says, not something where the band will “pull out a few tricks from the past to get cheap applause.”

All the group’s big hits are here, though each is often given a contemporary sheen to avoid sounding dated.

But the spirit of the original remains.

“We want people to still get that good feeling when they hear the hits,” Knight says.

The show also features cuts from “The Block.” The CD features guest turns by the Pussycat Dolls, Akon, Teddy Riley and Ne-Yo. The group likes the old school-meets-new school vibe Ne-Yo brings to “Single.”

An unexpected name on the disc is new singer Lady Gaga, a left-of-center choice for a group this mainstream. She’s featured on “Big Girl Now.”

“The song called for a female singer, and she was in the studio,” Knight says. “So we thought, ‘Why doesn’t she just do it?’ She blew us away.”

Most surprisingly, the CD features a collaboration with fellow boy band New Edition. Both bands hail from Boston and started out under the thumb of Maurice Starr. He first pulled together New Edition, and after they left over money he formed New Kids on the Block.

Knight doesn’t admit to the competition many assumed was naturally there.

“We would never say, ‘We’re coming after you, and we’re gonna blow you away.’ We couldn’t blow them away on stage or in a recording, and we’re smart enough to know that,” Knight says.

He says New Kids looked up to New Edition the same way Backstreet Boys and ’N Sync cite New Kids on the Block as influences.

Still, “it took us this many years for both of us to be mellow enough to say we can get on the same record and celebrate what we did in the past,” Knight says. “It was our tribute to them to put them on the record.”

The birthday bunch

Actor Robert Vaughn is 76. Actor Michael Callan is 73. Director Terry Gilliam is 68. Actor Tom Conti is 67. Singer Jesse Colin Young is 67. Guitarist-actor Little Steven (“The Sopranos”) is 58. Bassist Tina Weymouth of Talking Heads is 58. Actor Richard Kind (“Spin City”) is 52. Actress Jamie Lee Curtis is 50.Actress Mariel Hemingway is 47. Actress Scarlett Johansson is 24.


 

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