I was all set to run a post on Sting’s “All This Time” cassingle a couple of weeks ago, seeing as how it contains a non-album B-side (“I Miss You Kate” [download]), not to mention Sting’s album of 17th century lute music was hitting shelves, but I thought better of it. There isn’t much fun that can be had at the expense of “All This Time,” the B-side in question is an instrumental, and I caught Sting’s appearance on Studio 60 and realized, to my horror, that his foray into Bardsville really isn’t terrible. Making fun of Sting, it turns out, is rarely what it’s cracked up to be.

Making fun of me, on the other hand, is exceedingly easy, which is why I’m letting you know I bought this cassingle, and listened to it enough times that large chunks of the song’s lyrics came flooding back to me as I converted it off the tape deck.

Okay, so you could do worse than owning an After 7 cassingle. The group’s debut album contained a number of well-written monster R&B hits, including “Heat of the Moment,” “Ready or Not,” and “Can’t Stop.” (This is what happens when two of the guys in a three-member band are Babyface’s brothers — and the other is L.A. Reid’s cousin.)

If “‘Til You Do Me Right” (download) came from that debut album, I wouldn’t be so ashamed of owning it — but no, it was the first single from their third release, 1995’s Reflections. My shame arises not from the song’s suck quotient (as far as stuff like this goes, it isn’t bad), nor from the commercial failure of single or album (they both did pretty well on the charts). What I’m embarrassed about is the song’s off-the-charts wuss factor. This is a tune aimed squarely at the hearts of weepy teenagers. I, on the other hand, was 21 when this song came out, and should have known better.

(In my defense, I had recently been done wrong by a no-good woman. But still.)

Loosely speaking, there are two camps in R&B. There’s the rougher, more masculine side, what we’ll call the “Teddy Pendergrass Camp,” in honor of the man who, in the words of Eddie Murphy, “scares the bitches into liking him.” And then there’s the oh-so-sensitive side, personified by gentle tenors like Babyface, where men still make mistakes, but they never stop crying about it. These guys carry on the grand tradition established by Mellow Gold wimps and summed up excellently by Mike at Down With Snark!.

Consider the following lines from “‘Til You Do Me Right,” delivered in Kevin Edmonds’ anguished, high-pitched mewl:

I gave the sun to you
You said it was too bright
I gave you diamond rings
You said they didn’t shine
I gave my world to you
But you said it’s not enough
What in the world could I have done
To make you be so rough?

That I identified with these sentiments, even a little, as an adult male pains me. (It also makes me nostalgic for that first After 7 album, which I’m pretty sure is available for less than a quarter at Amazon, and which I will probably order before the day is out.)

This record was the end of the road for After 7; their territory had been totally usurped by Boyz II Men even before Reflections was released, and as effete as “‘Til You Do Me Right” might have been, it didn’t come with a video featuring the group crying in the desert. Beaten at their own game, the members of After 7 went on to do:something, probably, I’m just not sure what. Listen to a little Teddy Pendergrass, hopefully.

Let’s end on a positive note, though. The “‘Til You Do Me Right” cassingle was easily the most value-packed of any we’ve seen so far here in the vault, coming not only with the above single edit, but the song’s album version (download) and two (count ’em!) B-sides, the regular (download) and a cappella (download) versions of the non-album track “Gonna Love You Right.”