Wednesday, March 4, 2015

DeBarge - Rhythm of the Night

This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of Rhythm of the Night, the fourth studio album from the R&B family DeBarge. This Platinum seller went to number 94 in the UK, number 21 in New Zealand, and number 19 in Canada. Here in the US, it spent forty-eight weeks on the Billboard Album chart (peaking at number 19) and went to number 3 on the Billboard R&B chart.

Side one begins with "Prime Time", an up-tempo dance number about an after-hours get-together. The synths and percussion are in perfect sync here.

The fourth single "The Heart Is Not So Smart" stalled at number 75 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 29 on the US Billboard R&B chart, and number 17 on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. This song about relationship woes features a catchy swaying Calypso rhythm; it delivers some bad news with a bit of sunshine and positive reassurance.

"Who's Holding Donna Now", the second single, rose to number 83 in the UK, number 57 in Australia, number 44 in New Zealand, number 29 in Ireland, number 9 in Canada, number 6 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 2 on the US Billboard R&B chart, and number 1 on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. It was a popular slow dance number back in the day, even if it was kind of awkward when you were holding close someone whose name was not Donna.

The mid-tempo "Give It Up" is next, delivering a bit of a wake-up call to a deluded lover.

Side two starts with the slow swaying "Single Heart". El DeBarge and Bunny DeBarge shares the vocals on this duet of loneliness and longing.

"You Wear It Well", the third single, peaked on the US Billboard Hot 100 at number 46, number 7 on the US Billboard R&B chart, and number 1 on the US Billboard Dance chart. . The band appeared on a November 1985 episode of Facts of Life to perform the song along with the show's cast. The bouncy tune instantly brings to mind one of those "fashion montages" that show up occasionally on TV or in movies.

"The Walls (Came Tumbling Down)", at over six and a half minutes in length, is the longest cut on the record. It is a full-out party jam and an underappreciated deep track.

The B-side to the fourth single was "Share My World", an intimate love ballad.

The album closes with the title track and lead single. "Rhythm of the Night" went to number 50 in France, number 24 in Switzerland, number 19 in Germany, number 9 in Australia, number 7 in Belgium, number 4 in the Netherlands and UK, number 3 in Canada, New Zealand and on the US Billboard Hot 100, and number 1 on both the US Billboard R&B and Adult Contemporary charts. The song also appeared in the movie The Last Dragon. The version that closes the record is just shy of four minutes long, yet my fondest memories of it clearly come from the longer club remixes that keep the party going for quite a lot more. Something about that Calypso rhythm and bouncing beat made it a "must dance to" tune for me.

Later CD releases included both single extended club versions of a number of the songs.

Even as a huge fan of the title track and singles, I did not own a copy of Rhythm of the Night back in the day. I finally corrected that error by adding it my digital music library a number of years back. The DeBarge family was very much making the kind of R&B music I was heavily into during my college years back in the 80's.

For more from DeBarge, click here.


Mark said...

Early in the summer of 1985, I ended a 8 month relationship with a much older woman because I wanted to sow some wild oats (actually, I already was doing some sowing which is why I broke it off). The woman's name was Donna, so when "Who's Holding Donna Now?" hit the chart that summer (debuted at #75 on 6/1/85 and peaked at #6 on 8/10/85), the lyrics couldn't have been more apropos. It's a great song, written and produced by the incomparable Jay Graydon. However, my favorite song on the album is the admittedly lightweight "The Heart is Not So Smart" written by Diane Warren and also produced by Graydon.

Martin Maenza said...

Mark, thanks for the comments. Always appreciated. Amazing how certain songs are key to us, eh? I have a few of those myself.