Blitzz / Atlantic Records, 1994

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Remember the old saying, "You can't have your cake and eat it too?" A '90s translation of that would be: You can't be successful in two different fields and expect to be experts in both. (Look at Chicago's own beloved Michael Jordan, when he retired from basketball to play baseball. 'Nuff said.)

This is a message that California-based R&B group All-4-One would have been wise to heed on their self-titled debut album. Their ballads are incredibly powerful, but when they try to get funky, it's laughable.

Jamie Jones, Tony Borowiak, Delious and Alfred Nevarez make up this four-piece harmony group, and almost immediately you can tell they're gunning for Boyz II Men. Their cover of "So Much In Love" is proof enough of this - though they do a respectable job on this number.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The smash hit, of course, is "I Swear," which topped the Billboard charts for 11 weeks. You gotta admit, it's a beautiful song - and it will always have special meaning for me, as it was the first song my wife and I danced to at our wedding reception. (This one was her choice - immediately after, we danced to mine, Richard Marx's "Now And Forever".) The pleading and devotion of love that is vocalized in this song is immediately appealing and overwhelming - and there's little doubt why it topped the charts for so long.

In fact, most of the first side of All-4-One is comprised of such moody, slower-tempoed ballads in which the singers plead for the love of their lives to come back and give them one more chance. "Oh Girl", "A Better Man" and "Without You" stand out among the best on this album.

Ah, if only All-4-One had left well enough alone. Side two has the four lads gettin' jiggy with it - and with one exception, it just doesn't work. C'mon, going from promising that your cheating days are over to declaring that she "puts the motion in the ocean" on "(She's Got) Skillz" is stretching credibility like so much taffy at a church fair: sooner or later, you're gonna get tangled up. And in the case of All-4-One, they tangle in their own web really quick.

There is one exception to this second side mess - "The Bomb," a track I can't help liking despite the style shift. It's a track that sounds like numerous hits you've tapped your foot to before, yet you can't quite place your finger on it. Whatever the case, it works here.

Still, it would have been better for All-4-One to have selected one vein of R&B to tap, especially on their first outing. And judging from the smash hit of "I Swear," it doesn't take a genius (or even the artist formerly known as genius) to figure out which way to turn.

All-4-One is still a somewhat enjoyable listen, especially the first half of the album. But when the gloves come off midway through, be ready to swerve out of the way.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Blitzz / Atlantic Records, and is used for informational purposes only.