wax Poetics

Alton McClain & Destiny

Gonna Tell the World

Released 1981
record label Polydor
Written by Rico Washington

Alton McClain & Destiny - Gonna Tell The World
Alton McClain & Destiny - Gonna Tell The World

Within a year of their late-’70s formation, Baltimore native Alton McClain and her L.A.-based group Destiny released their eponymous full-length debut on Polydor. Helmed by former Motown producer Frank Wilson, the album included the Top 40 smash “It Must Be Love,” a variation of the Emotions’ hit “Best of My Love.” To cash in on the success of the single, Polydor soon rereleased the album with revamped artwork under the title It Must Be Love. Aside from the hit single, the album also contained a composition written by a young Angela Winbush entitled “The Power of Love,” which Stephanie Mills later transformed into a number one R&B hit in 1986. In 1980, their second Wilson-produced effort, More of You, was released and included “99 ½,” a song that future Polydor artist Carol Lynn Townes would turn into a Top 40 R&B hit for the 1984 soundtrack to Breakin’.

Eschewing Wilson’s decidedly disco-oriented approach, songwriter/producer Skip Scarborough, responsible for such hits as Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Can’t Hide Love,” LTD’s “Love Ballad,” the Emotions’ “Don’t Ask My Neighbor,” and Mother’s Finest’s “Love Changes,” assumed the duties for 1981’s Gonna Tell the World. In assembling the best rhythm section for the task, Scarborough enlisted colleagues such as Patrice Rushen, Paulinho Da Costa, Paul Jackson Jr., and Herbie Hancock. The result is a collection of ten plush R&B pop tunes with subtle undertones of funk, couched in orchestration that lends to the girls’ angelic vocal arrangements. Closing one’s eyes, it’s easy to imagine skating to the buoyant little funk jam “My Destiny” (a club hit, later released as a single) at the local roller rink. “Why Did You Let Me Love You,” with its dreamy intro, complete with guitar glissando, is ripe for looping on MPCs far and wide. But the hidden gem in this treasure trove is “Making Room for Love,” a mid-tempo twilight cut with sublime chord structure where Scarborough masterfully incorporates his patented wood blocks and rhythm guitar.

Gonna Tell the World, with its vibrant energy, is undoubtedly the group’s most consistent and enjoyable album, albeit their last. Not long after its release, McClain disbanded the group to pursue a gospel career, marrying Scarborough in the process, while Stiger and Warren went on to form the Epic Records vocal trio Krystol.