El DeBarge

In the Storm

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After seven years with Motown in which he experienced moderate success as the lead vocalist for the group DeBarge and also as a soloist, El DeBarge attempted to step out on his own. In the Storm was the debut album for the Warner label for the Grand Rapids, MI native. Obviously showing much appreciation for his idol Marvin Gaye, El DeBarge created this album in a vein similar to that of Gaye's 1977 LP I Want You. Beginning with the album cover, El DeBarge seeks to reproduce the same atmosphere that Gaye's pictorial illustration did. His eye-catching depiction is both '60s and '70s retro, but also offers a '90s urban feel with some of the cultural images. But on the other hand, there are also angelic and demonic figures on the album, which leaves one wondering. From the funky bass-driven tracks to the serenity of the string-propelled ballads, Gaye's influence and spiritual presence is felt throughout. "After the Dance," recorded by Fourplay and featuring El DeBarge, is the only bona fide Gaye remake on the album. With that exception, El DeBarge makes a genuine effort to intertwine his homegrown style with that of Gaye's classic arrangements. In spite of his efforts, only three singles were released from this collection, with "You Know What I Like" being the highest charted single, peaking at number 14 on the Billboard R&B charts after only 15 weeks. The other two singles, the bouncy "My Heart Belongs to You" and the pleading ballad "Another Chance" did not survive half as long on the charts. Aside from the Marvin Gaye undertones, this collection of songs is well written and produced. It is free of the typical and predictable rhythms of the day. Retaining the services of Maurice White, Paisley Park and a host of other industry veterans, El DeBarge had the ensemble in place to take this album in any direction he desired. With that said, this project will either go down in history as an experimental failure or a classic tribute to one of the greats by one very talented artist.

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