One Way featuring Al Hudson - One Way featuring Al Hudson (Reissue) (2013)

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    One Way featuring Al Hudson
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    Several years before the R&B record-buying public-at-large was introduced to the deep and velvety vocal stylings of Alicia Myers, the Detroit native was honing her singing and songwriting chops on wax for the first time with Al Hudson & The Soul Partners. Beginning with 1978's funky shuffler, "How Do You Do," Myers presented a unique delivery which was both sophisticated and rousing.

    Rechristened One Way featuring Al Hudson, the genuinely soulful sextet began a new and prolific chapter with a 1979 self-titled MCA set, now reissued on CD in America for the first time by Purpose Music Vaults. The LP was propelled by the highly contagious stomper, "You Can Do It," which took dance floors in both the U.S. and U.K. by storm with its unforgettable calls to "get up and do your thing...eenie meenie miney mo, there's really nothin' to it." All of the elements of a tight groove were in place: a charging drum pattern with real kick in the bass and hi-hat shine; seamless vocal interaction between Myers and the understated (but equally enthusiastic) Hudson; and flawlessly locked-in guitar lines. Although only a minor-charting R&B hit at the time, the number has remained a concert and radio favorite throughout the three decades since its inception.

    Just as spellbinding, the straight-ahead pull of "Music" intoxicates with smooth harmonies and light disco "booms" that retain a true-to-roots bottom. "If you get tired of dancin', relax and start again," sings Myers. This deceptively simple phrase has undoubtedly been vital to countless work-weary listeners in need of physical stimulation and mental rejuvenation. It's a concept that's frequently been imitated, but never duplicated with such musical ease.

    One Way featuring Al Hudson offers several other engaging booty-shakin' jams: among them, the gently pulsating "Come Dance with Me," which displays a softer side of Myers' abilities; and the melodically empyreal "Tonight," which also showcases vocalist Brenda Wiley. Originally a U.K.-exclusive album track, "Tonight" makes its U.S. debut on this reissue. "All you've got to do is get up and do your do," the ladies alluringly proclaim—a clear indication of One Way's no-strings-attached philosophy of personal fulfillment through music. The group would continue to imbibe that feeling over its remarkable ten-album run of the 1980s—but never quite as purely and effortlessly as on this collection.

    On the ballad and mid-tempo front, One Way satiates with heartfelt workings such as the quiet-storm magnum opus, "Guess You Didn't Know," and the takin'-it-easy stroll of "I Am Under Your Spell." With each album track clocking in at over six minutes, the only effort which doesn't hold up all the way through is "Now That I Found You." Possessing a charming melody and easily relatable lyrics, the instrumental portion nonetheless drags a bit. Thus, it's nice to have the significantly shortened single edit included as a bonus track (also containing a notably different rhythm arrangement that packs a bit more pep than its full-length counterpart).

    Boasting high-quality remastering accompanied by an informative liner-notes essay, Purpose Music Group's expanded CD release of One Way featuring Al Hudson is a sonic treat not only for fans of Alicia Myers, but also for any admirers of soul-laden funk who take pride in the preservation of authentically played grooves with strong melodic substance. Highly Recommended.

    by Justin Kantor

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