Timing is everything. The vocal group All-4-One knows all too well.The California-based quartet’s fourth Blitzz/Atlantic album, “On & On,” was finished a year ago and, after many delays, finally was released June 8. That’s not the kind of situation expected for a group with one of the Top 5 best-selling singles of all time (“I Swear”), a Grammy to its credit and sales of more than 5 million for its 1994 self-titled debut album, but members Tony Borowiak, Delious, Jamie Jones and Alfred Nevarez are taking it all in stride.
“That’s showbiz,” Borowiak said. “We wish the delays wouldn’t happen, but they have their reasons. It might be timing purposes or whatever. They know the business better than we do.
“But we do know it’s by far our best album. You look at all 15 songs and you go, ‘Okay, there’s not a dog song on here.’ Maybe not all of them are singles material, but you can’t say, ‘Oh, this one was a filler.’ Each song on there is a good, quality song.”
The group’s trademark doo-wop style is in full force on such tracks as “One Summer Night” (originally a Top 10 hit for the Danleers in 1958), “Smile Like Mona Lisa” and “I Will Be Right Here.” They also display a flair for uptempo beats, best evidenced on “Until You Go,” “No Doubt” and the group’s new anthem, “Keep It Goin’ On.”
The album’s delay was actually to the group’s benefit. They were able to tweak some of the songs and offer new twists, such as Frankie Knuckles’ bonus remix of “One Summer Night.” Dance remixer Hex Hector, who did wonders with Deborah Cox’s “Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here,” also was called in to give “Keep It Goin’ On” an even bigger jolt. The vibrant opener sets the album’s diverse tone.
“Our manager wanted an anthem-type song, kind of like Nile Rodgers did with ‘We Are Family’ for Sister Sledge,” Borowiak said. “He called Nile and said he didn’t want it to sound like anything else out there, and Nile and Hex Hector did a great job with it.
“The best part is that it’s not a gimmicky song. It’s very much us, and let’s us show off our funky side.”
Though it has been four years since All-4-One’s last studio album, “And the Music Speaks,” the quartet remained busy. They provided songs for “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and “Space Jam” soundtracks, toured a full year in support of “And the Music Speaks,” and some members got married and delved deeper into the music business, writing and engineering on their own and starting their own artist-development businesses.
“We weren’t worried that people would forget about us,” Borowiak said. “We just want people to love our songs. We know this is a cut-throat business, and that’s why you always want to have your back covered in case something happens. There’s many directions you can go in this industry. You have to learn so much. This is our (fifth) year and we’ve just chipped in a little bit of it. There’s so much more to learn and we have some of the best people to learn from. We’re always asking questions.
“At the same time, we want to be old and in our wheelchairs still singing ‘I Swear’ or whatever the current hit is. We’re such good friends. Alfred and I have known each other 16 years, and the rest of us feel like family. We love what we do.”
BWF (before we forget): Catch All-4-One on the Web @ www.otb1.com/all-4-one. …. The All-4-One album discography – “All-4-One” (Blitzz/Atlantic, 1994); “And the Music Speaks” (1995); “An All-4-One Christmas” (1995); “On & On” (1999).
ALL-4-ONE ALL FOR LONGEVITY (June 22, 1995):
Everywhere they go, it seems, the vocal quartet All-4-One bumps into the legendary Spinners.
“They’ve been together over 30 years and have had tons of hits,” All-4-One member Tony Borowiak said recently. “We’re definitely going to try to do something like that.”
They’re well on their way.
A year ago, All-4-One’s platinum-selling debut Blitzz/Atlantic album featured the Top-5 a cappella hit “So Much In Love” and “I Swear,” which spent 11 weeks at No. 1 and was 1994’s biggest-selling song. Their follow-up album, “And the Music Speaks” (released last week), contains the smooth “I Can Love You Like That,” which debuted at No. 27 … a career milestone for most acts, but its impact got lost in the shuffle of Michael and Janet Jackson’s debut at No. 5 with “Scream” the same week.
For anyone who might think All-4-One is a studio creation, pawns of producers and nothing more than Boyz II Men clones, group member Delious will quickly set things straight.
“Nobody who has ever heard us sing live can really say that anymore,” he said, “and if they do, they’re just saying it out of spite.”
All-4-One’s story began in Southern California in 1993 when high school friends Borowiak and Alfred Nevarez met Jamie Jones in a recording studio to sing jingles for a radio station. They discovered similar backgrounds in church choirs and decided to form a vocal group. They auditioned a fourth member, Delious, whom they had met at a talent show.
A producer Jones had met in church gave him a demo tape of several songs, including “So Much In Love” (a No. 1 doo-wop hit for the Tymes in 1963), and asked the group to learn the songs.
“The first time all four of us sang together was at Six Flags (amusement park),” Borowiak said. “We were singing ‘So Much In Love’ and singing some Boyz II Men songs. You know how long those lines are for the rides, so we were just singing to pass the time away and everybody was listening to us. We had a real big crowd around us.”
A few months later, All-4-One approached Blitzz president Tim O’Brien.
“Nothing about our situation is normal,” Delious said with a laugh. “Tim said, ‘If I could find the right group to sing this song, I know it’ll be a hit.’ And when he finally found the right group, that’s why it happened so quickly.
“I don’t think anyone could think up a better dream for four guys. This is a dream come true.”