A few things that are strange:
*The fact that many of DeBarge’s bigger hits had a subtle Latin flavor despite the fact that there wasn’t a damn thing Hispanic about anyone in the DeBarge family. At least “All This Love” has Jose Feliciano on guitar, so the flavor makes sense in this particular context. Otherwise, I don’t get it.
*Many of DeBarge’s songs (particularly the ballads) balance incredibly soulful singing (seriously, El DeBarge belongs on any list of the best pure vocalists of all time) and background arrangements that are straight out of Lite FM. Bunny DeBarge mentioned it in an interview once–she said it was basically a mix-up of the choral sounds created in Black churches and White churches (which, when you consider the DeBarge family is biracial, makes total sense.)
*El DeBarge’s amazing retention of the vocal skills I bring up in that last point. I saw El in concert a little over a year ago, and he’s still got, like, 92% of his fastball. I mean, take away the fact that he can’t hit those hella high notes like the end of “I Like It”, and you could close your eyes and not be able to ascertain the difference between 1983 El and 2016 El. There are angels flying around that man if he sounds (and looks) this good despite all of the shit he has done to himself.
Oh, and “All This Love” is awesome. So beautifully written. Can you imagine a 21 year old writing a song like this today?
El has said in interviews that he wrote this song for Marvin Gaye to sing. I’m glad it wasn’t given away.