David Wayne | Santee, CA United States | 02/17/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There were two musical geniuses in the DeBarge family: Bobby DeBarge, the co-leader of Switch, and Eldra DeBarge (better known as El). DeBarge was El's group, which wound up having even greater success than Switch. El was mentored by Bobby. Their voices are almost identical, but El had even more musical prowess than Bobby did. The second DeBarge album, All This Love, was El's first real step into the spotlight, and he did not disappoint. "I Like It" was a real crowd pleaser, and "All This Love" went all the way to #1 on the Soul chart. This album, In A Special Way, was the follow-up to that blockbuster album and continued the group's success. "Time Will Reveal" also hit #1 Soul, "Love Me In A Special Way" was another slow-dancing hit, and "Stay With Me" and "A Dream" have been sampled on high-profile hip-hop smashes during the 90's. Many of these songs began as personal or spiritual love poems composed by Bunny, then turned into songs by El. Bunny's beautiful lyrics had graced four other albums by DeBarge or Switch, but these were her best songs ever. Even James stepped it up this time, with three contributions, most notably the laid-back groove on "Need Somebody." A forgotten gem on this album is "Queen Of My Heart."
It was produced by Bobby and appeared on the first DeBarge album,
which did not hit big. El remixed it for this album, improving
it by emphasizing the bottom end. Good for us, for El's vocal on the cut was spectacular! After the success of this album, Motown made the decision to spin El off from the group (the monster hit, "Rhythm Of The Night" was credited to DeBarge, Featuring El DeBarge), hoping for another Michael Jackson success story. El has enjoyed a solid solo career, but I think it's been shown that he is much too humble to have pulled off superstardom on his own. In A Special Way has been issued by Motown in a two-on-one CD package with All This Love, with all 17 cuts represented ("I Like It" and "Stop! Don't Tease Me" appear as single edits). It's no longer in print, but if you can find it, you'll have the cream of DeBarge. It's too bad their heyday was so brief. There is occasional talk of a reunion, but Bobby's death left a deep wound in the family, driving the group's members back to their church-singing roots. El's last solo album ("Heart, Mind & Soul") was his most mature work yet, and it saw him successfully re-capture the sound of his group's best days. But it was released before his brother died. It may wind up being the last we ever hear, from a group we wish had stayed together: DeBarge."
A classic that spawned a few more classics
Olukayode Balogun | Leeds, England | 02/21/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For a number of years after this album was released back in 1983, it was all about the hit single "Be My Lady". In my former life as a DJ on the house party circuit, I'd be doing my usual 80s set and people would always come up and ask me: "You got "Be My Lady" by DeBarge?" Sometimes they'd ask for their other 80s smash "Rhythm Of The Night" from their 1985 album of the same name, but much less often.
Then, in 1995, everything changed when Diddy the king of samples (then known as Sean "Puffy" Combs) sampled the instrumental break in "Stay With Me" for a remix of The Notorious B.I.G.'s "One More Chance" from his 1994 iconic debut, Ready to Die. The result, the smash club hit "One More Chance/Stay With Me", is one of my favourite hip-hop songs ever. (All together now: "First things first, I Poppa, freaks all the honeys, Dummies, Playboy bunnies, those wanting money/ Those the ones I like 'cause they don't get nathan, but penetration, unless it smells like sanitation...")
Ah, the glorious 90s. You were either there or you weren't.
Anyhoo, apparently a lot of people went hunting for this album at that point - not just DJs who wanted to use the break for their own mixes but ordinary folk like me who just wanted to know what the original song was like. (Those of us who had the album felt smug for a minute).
And as if to prove how enduring the break actually is, 7 and Irv Gotti used it again for Ashanti's 2002 hit "Foolish" (and "Unfoolish", which was also big in the clubs), from her debut album Ashanti and I'm not sure the same break has been used with such success on two or more completely separate songs so many years apart. Even some gospel singer called Deitrick Haddon used the sample for his song "Don't Go" from his 2006 album 7 Days. The funny thing is, unlike most songs that are sampled for hip-hop and r&b hits, when you check out the original it's not just a few bars in the break that are interesting. The whole song, written by Mark, Bunny & Eldra DeBarge, is pretty solid in its own right.
In fact, the whole album is pretty solid with much credit due to Eldra DeBarge, who produced it. Only 9 songs and the whole album is over in less than 38 minutes but once again, it's a true case of quality over quantity. Good songs, great imaginative vocals and ballads like "Time Will Reveal" and "Love Me In A Special Way" are really quite powerful. (Back then, r&b singers actually SANG!) James and El take care of the lead vocals on all the songs, except for "A Dream", the album closer, which was sung by Bunny. Incidentally, this song was also sampled - this time by Teddy Riley for the Blackstreet tune "Don't Leave Me" from their 1996 album Another Level.
No doubt someone got paid. I just wonder how much of the dross that passes for r&b today is likely to be sampled by hip-hop, r&b and gospel acts in 10, 15, 20 or 25 years time. I'm guessing not that much, if any at all."
They way R&B ballads are supposed to sound
E. D. Daniels | tampa, florida United States | 07/07/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I LOVE THIS ALBUM WHAT CAN YOU SAY ABOUT AN ALBUM THAT EMPHAIZES PURE BEAUTY FROM THE FAMILY DEBARGE. I HAVE THIS ALBUM AND ALSO ALL THIS LOVE (BUY BOTH THEY ARE NOW ON CD) WITH THE EXCEPTION OF LUTHER VANDROSS AND/OR PRINCE NO ONE KNEW WHO TO SING BALLADS BETTER THAN ELDRA IN THE 80'S AND PULL SO MANY ELEMENTS TOGETHER LATIN, GOSPEL,HAMRONIES WOW! I PINE FOR THE DAYS WHEN BLACK SINGERS SUNG LIKE THIS INSTEAD OF CURSING EVERY OTHER WORD NO CONCEPT OF INNEUDO LIKE MARVIN GAYE WEARING PRISON OUTFITS (ROCCA WEAR, FUBU)AND YOU KNOW WHICH GROUPS FROM AZ YET TRYING TO SHOW THEIR BIRD CHESTS (TRYING TO KEEP IT REAL) AND SHOWING THEIR DRAWERS AND FEMALE SINGERS LIKE BEYONCE WHO SHAKE THEIR BUTTS LIKE THERE'S NO TOMMOROW BUT NO MUSICAL CONTENT(SHE CAN'T SING) NO HAMRONIZING GROUPS LEFT LIKE THIS BUT WHINING ,CRUSING SINGERS BUT DEBARGE HAS REAL EMOTION THAT MAKES YOU BELIEVE IN LOVE IN ALL OF ITS BEAUTY BUY THIS ALBUM NOW AND SEE WHAT BLACK FOLKS LOVED ABOUT THIS GRAND FAMILY OF MOTOWN IN THE 80'S."
A must have classic!!!/ CLASSIC DEBARGE!!!!!
A. R SCOTT | Houston, Texas | 10/22/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I used to love this group this was a great group with some great songs and I really did like all of their music this is a great album also and I would recommend anyone who enjoyed Debarge back in the day to buy this album and their best of and Ultimate Collection it is great Debarge was the lick back in the day and really did enjoy their music I liked all of them I remember when Debarge and Switch had did the morning concert for the Sky show for Tom Joyner a while ago El was good as usual and he still can sing I liked El when he was with Debarge and Switch I believe that he was the lead singer for both groups ad he did a great job and he was very talented he could even sing without the instruments now that is just raw talent!!!! This group debarge had consisted of brothers and one sister...... I believe that they are related to Chico Debarge I am not very sure....
My favorite songs on this album are Dream, Special Way, and many others if you enjoyed Debarge back in the day then you would definitely enjoy this album because it is great and it is classic "Debarge"."