Saturday, February 28, 2009

Speaking of Thomas, a useful review of Debarge's 20th Century Masters/The Millenium Collection. I've never particularly warmed to Debarge, to whom so many of my favorite critics surrender without a fight, but "All This Love" and "Time Will Reveal" hold up as well as any early eighties R&B ("A Dream" was the wtf-revelatory cut for me, actually). "You Wear It Well" shakes like the kid brother of Kool & the Gang's "Misled."I like "Who's Holding Donna Now" and "Who's Johnny?" more than he does, though. Of course, there's "Rhythm of the Night," which, as Thomas points out, skips to a robo-calypso beat first heard on the Pointer Sister's "Automatic," but so what? I love "Automatic." If you can get your hands on the "dance remix" (found on the collection named above), do so; the producers scrub much of the original's tackiness from the mix (the excellent bridge now omits the terrible synthesizer blasts punctuating the verses) and give Eldra Debarge more room to shake his blues right away.

Speaking of the Short Circuit theme song: more R&B producers listened to Scritti Politti's Cupid & Psyche '85 than I'd expected. Eldra's light, frisky tenor cuts corners around the Fairlight fizz, synth-horn blasts, and ricocheting drum programs as deftly as Green Gartside's did on tracks like "Absolute" and "Perfect Way." If we remember that Gartside contributed "Love of a Lifetime" to Chaka Khan's Destiny in 1986 -- and that the late Arif Mardin's ear for R&B trends remained impeccable -- the cross-pollination isn't so far-fetched.

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