Those Kings of New Jack Swing are ready to shake some booty again.

A new Bobby Brown-less edition of New Edition is joining forces with rap impresario Sean "P. Diddy" Combs to record their first album in nearly seven years, followed by a tour in 2003, Combs' Bad Boy Entertainment has announced.

Brown, perhaps the most famous--and controversial--alum of the '80s R&B outfit, will not participate in the reunion, and no reason was given by his rep. Mr. Whitney Houston was the first member to spin off for a solo career, but he did return to the fold for the group's 1996 reunion.

While Brown's MIA, all the other members--Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, Ronnie Devoe (who made up the short-lived early '90s trio Bell Biv Devoe), Ralph Tresvant and Johnny Gill (who replaced Brown when he left the group in 1986)--are all on board.

"We are thrilled to be working with Diddy on the next phase of our career and look forward to bringing new music and a fresh sound to our fans," the quintet said in a press release.

New Edition become the latest addition to the Bad Boy stable after Combs agreed to produce several tracks for the comeback album, liked what he heard and signed them.

"New Edition carved the path for what we know to be R&B today and are living legends," Combs said. "I look forward to working with all the members closely on their new album and re-introducing the world to a brand-new New Edition. This new collaboration will inevitably make music history."

Under the deal, Bad Boy will release the still untitled disc in spring 2003. Aside from Combs, the album will be produced by Bad Boys' in-house team, the Hit Men, as well as Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, who produced New Edition's 1989 album Heart Break and have worked with the likes of Janet Jackson.

The Boston-bred quintet will follow the new tunes with a tour likely to include the group's crowd-pleasing dancing backed by such bubblegum R&B classics as "Candy Girl," "Cool It Now," "Mr. Telephone Man" and "If It Isn't Love."

Originally a latter-day Jackson 5 knockoff, New Edition is credited with fusing hip-hop and R&B into what became known as New Jack Swing. Discovered by Maurice Starr (who later founded New Kids on the Block), New Edition tore up the charts with such albums as Candy Girl (1983), the double-platinum New Edition (1984), All for Love (1985) and 1986's doo-woppy Under the Blue Moon.

Following Brown's departure, the group recorded 1989's Heart Break with Gill before calling it quits to pursue various solo and side projects. With both Brown and Gill on board, the group briefly re-formed for 1996's Home Again and subsequent tour and then broke up again.

All told, New Edition has sold a combined 31 million albums as an ensemble and as solo artists.

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