The Isley Brothers - Go All the Way (1980)
1979's double-LP Winner Takes All was full of good-if-unremarkable material that began to see their "funky jam plus sultry groove" style become a formula. Here on Go All the Way, the formulaic approach becomes ever more ossified, but the brothers drastically cut back the scale; this album is a scant 6 songs totaling 35 minutes.
First up is the title, which commences with a weird, echoed buoyancy. Thereafter it settles into the standard Isley funk formula: fat bass by Marvin, tight and sharp rhythm guitar licks from Ernie and some synthesized chunkiness courtesy of Chris. Adding in electronic smashes/handclaps serves as a stylistic breakthrough, though. But don't forget, formula Isley funk is still potent and this song is pretty good party fare.
"Pass It On" is also in a similar, positive vibe as "Go All The Way". However, musically it has lead vocalist Ronald delivering a gruffer performance while Marvin's bass is the anchor of this groove ship. Sadly, the thoroughly bass-licked "Belly Dancer" isn't much of anything. Highly repetitive, painfully forced and too long, it's by far the weakest on the album.
And now it's time for the balladry!
"Say You Will" features the obligatory Ernie guitar solo and it soars into the clouds. The song itself is more mid-tempo groove than bedroom ballad, though.
The sumptuous "Don't Say Goodnight (It's Time For Love)" does that trick, however. It has a dramatic, stop-and-start opening that is reprised throughout the song, but for the most part it is sparse leaving ample room for Ronald to work his vocal magic. Released as a single it went to #1 R&B and #39 pop despite no real vocal hook (a testament to Ronald's overall vocal performance actually that it could still rise so high on the charts). In fact the closest thing to a hook is the twinkling of a synthesized keyboard as the song nears its end.
Finally, there's the steppers classic "Here We Go Again". With a groove made for the gentle sway of a cruise ship (or a satiny water bed), Ronald again gives a rich lead while O'Kelly and Rudolph back him up simply but mightily with "ah ooh ooh" that rides in unison with the chugging bass. The longest song on the album, perhaps it could have been parred down a bit from its 7:30 running time, but I won't complain. All your gonna do is just put it on repeat anyways, so just let that groove go all the way, baby.