#MusicMonday – December 21, 2020

I talk about this being my first Christmas album, and since it is one that ranks right up there with my Chicago Christmas albums, it certainly deserves its own Music Monday.

In the mid 1990s (1994-1997), I was crazy about Boyz II Men and All-4-One, as I’m sure most girls were. Of course, I was 12-15 years old at the time, so I shouldn’t really have been listening to songs about making love, and chicks who have “Skillz.”

I’m so grateful my mom had no clue this song was on that one All-4-One album! I’d like to thank my friend Jen for sharing that song with me long after I got the album!

Anyway, at the fear my mom will comment on this (she reads these, you know), when I was in eighth grade (1996), I received All-4-One’s And the Music Speaks as a birthday present for my 14th birthday, and listened to “I Can Love You Like That” soooo much. I LOVED that song! It totally doesn’t mention “skillz” either. I found out around that same time that All-4-One had a Christmas album, and well, I loved Christmas music! We had this cassette tape in a kitchen drawer (next to a Doobie Brothers cassette, as well as Phil Collins’ No Jacket Required), of Christmas music, a freebie from Exxon. So I knew my Christmas music! I knew I was definitely going to be buying that CD to play on my new Discman, which I bought with my babysitting money the previous summer!

A few weeks after my birthday that year, which is in October, I was walking around the mall on a Saturday night (one of our usual Saturday night haunts when I was a kid), and used my babysitting money to buy that CD I found on a Christmas rack at Sam Goody a few weeks earlier. It was my first Christmas CD, and after so many mentions, I’m finally giving this one its own article!

You’re so lucky.

(And yes, I realize I just dated myself by mentioning Sam Goody, All-4-One, and CDs in the same paragraph.)

An All-4-One Christmas is a Christmas album released by (guess who?) All-4-One in October 1995, four months after the release of And the Music Speaks.

Atlantic Records. Image: Wikipedia

It is the group’s third album, and followed on the success of their two previous efforts. The album covers the classic and contemporary songs of Christmas, as well as one original song, with the covers all given the All-4-One touch. We’re talking -mid1990s R&B, that one really deep, super smooth voice every R&B group had, and even a little mid-1990s Hip Hop thrown in. It’s all so Christmasy and magical, and I still have the CD…somewhere.

It’s not at my house. It’s somewhere in the basement at my parents’ house. But it is still around, I just have it in digital form now.

There are eleven covers of Christmas songs, covering everything from Frosty, a certain red-nosed reindeer named Rudolph, and Santa Claus, to chestnuts roasting on an open fire (one of the only versions that directly competes with Nat King Cole’s version), Mary’s Boy Child (what child is this?), silent nights, the premiere of noel, all ye faithful coming, and four guys wishing us a Merry Christmas. They even talking about wishing upon a star (a totally different song for a Christmas album), and an original song in having “Christmas with My Baby.” Hey, every group worth their salt tries their hand at the traditional and contemporary songs of Christmas, but also having their own Christmas song. All-4-One even covers the song I featured last week, Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas,” which is the second cover of this song I’d ever heard. I realized after the fact (meaning, after the article was written) that Jamie Foxx’s version on In Living Color was the first version I ever heard.

This is such a beautiful album, a nice mix of smooth R&B, beautiful standards, with fun and upbeat songs mixed in. Even “Christmas With My Baby” is a fun song that sounds mid-1990s, but holds up so well!

An All-4-One Christmas peaked at #91 on Billboard’s Hot 100 on December 9, 1995, and #13 on the Top Holiday Charts for the same date. As a mid-1990s R&B album goes, it holds up so well. I still love listening to this, and have listened to it several times this month, including while I was finishing up my Christmas presents. Their version of “The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas To You)” gets me everytime. And of course, their version of “This Christmas” has been one of my favorites for many years, and being a Hip Hop dancer, I find it very danceable.

Oh heck, it’s all incredible.

We are now four days (!) from Christmas, and Allison’s Written Words has no plans on slowing down to celebrate the holidays (I mean, there is a “Schedule” button for a reason, right?), with a few more articles coming up as we approach Christmas Day.

Have a great Monday before Christmas, and enjoy the holly jolly music!

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