Milli Vanilli

All or Nothing

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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Trivia time. Milli Vanilli's first album was never released in its original incarnation in America. That album was called All or Nothing, and the bulk of it was used as the basis for the smash-hit American album Girl You Know It's True. Its title was also used for the 1990 effort The Remix Album, which went gold in the U.S. -- proof positive that Milli Vanilli was really a phenomenon. So, there was a bit of confusion, since both All or Nothing and Girl You Know It's True looked like variations on the same album, which was kind of true and kind of not. Either way, Girl was a stronger album, better sequenced and boasting a better set of songs. All or Nothing does have four of the big hits -- "Baby Don't Forget My Number," "Girl You Know It's True," "I'm Gonna Miss You," and, of course, the title track (all Top Five U.S. singles, by the way) -- but it's missing the fine Diane Warren ballad "Blame It on the Rain," which was the key ingredient that sent this set of trashy Eurodisco into the American stratosphere. The album cuts here tend to emphasize that Eurotrash side of the group -- the schlock Americana gangster fantasy "Ma Baker," the mechanical dance reworking of Deep Purple's "Hush" that strips out almost all the hooks, the plain weird imagery of the featherweight "Boy in the Tree" -- which may have given away the game if included on the American effort. All of this makes All or Nothing a more interesting and funnier set than its U.S. counterpart, but it's not as much fun, since it indulges in the worse tendencies of Europop. Unlike the U.S. audience, which really values a knockout hook, Europop fans don't always mind when style overrides structure, so there are many cuts where the beat takes prominence over the melody, and there are other parts that really drag underneath the robotic beats. But these are the very reasons why All or Nothing is worth listening to in light of the lip-synching scandal that happened. In this context, the hits sound like classic Euro-dance cuts, where it just doesn't matter who is singing or not -- all that matters is the sound. So, no, it's not as good an album as the reshuffled and restructured Girl You Know It's True, but this is where you can hear the roots of the scandal that later toppled frontmen Rob and Fab.

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