There was a time in the early 80s when a new release by the group One Way was an important event for me. The songs by Al Hudson, Dave Roberson, and especially Kevin McCord have become real classics. Songs like “Give Me One More Chance”, “Don’t Fight The Feeling”, “Didn’t You Know It”, “If Only You Knew”, or “Mr. Groove” still shine bright. And of course earlier pieces like “Do Your Thang”, “Let’s Go Out Tonite”, “I Am Under Your Spell”, or “Music”.
26 years after the last album, “One Way with Alicia Myers & Friends”, the group has released a new album. Consisting of Al Hudson III, Dave Roberson, Jr., Jeanette Jackson, Tony Lippett, Jack Hall (original member), Johnny Murray, Craig Lane, and Terry Washington, the focus on the 15 tracks on the album lies on uptempo disco soul cuts such as the opener “Let’s Dance”, obviously trying to resurrect the good old days à la “You Can Do It” or “Music” (1979). “Mr. Groove” says hello on “Hump That Butt”, with George Clinton samples and those Zapp-like funky grooves including talk box. The funk continues with “Heat It Up” before tempo slows down for the first time on the fifth track of the album, the wonderful old school-sounding “We Won’t Stop” with instrumentation by Valdez Brantley who has played on One Way albums since “Wrap Your Body” (1985). Al sometimes reminds me of Rick James on this cut.
The first real ballad of the album, “Hard To Walk Away”, is a nod to the Isley Brothers and not really innovative or original. Maceo Parker horns are sampled into “Doin It Like This”, a relatively boring, repetitive funk ditty, and more George Clinton samples on the equally stale “Old School Funk Tonite”. There’s a serious triteness and banality, lyrically and rhythmically as well as production-wise, on “Steppin 4 Fun”, by far the worst track of the set. I think the group fares much better with slow and midtempo soul pieces like “I Want Your Luv” or “Wonder If She Knows”. Old school soul balladry continues with the vocoder-induced “What Am I Suppose To Do” and the finest of the ballads on offer is “I’ll Do Anything” with a sax solo by David McMurray who also plays on the rather dramatic album closer “Hold On To U” with those signature Al Hudson vocals.