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20th Century Masters/The Millennium Collection
Artist: DeBarge
Label: Motown
Length: 11 Tracks

They gave Menudo and New Edition a run for their money with their good looks, catchy hooks, and soulful sounds. DeBarge was all in the family, the 80's version of the Jackson 5 if you will. During the decade of decadence, they had about five legitimate hits, eleven if you count through the eyes of this project's compiler.  However, they had a lot of friction, which eventually led to their breakup halfway through the decade.

This "Best of" collection features early songs like the group's first single, "Stop," as well as "Don't Tease Me" and "I Like It."  A couple songs from the group's 1983 album In A Special Way also appear, including "Love Me In a Very Special Way" and "Time Will Reveal." The band followed suit with several concert dates opening up for Luther Vandross, which got them in front of large audiences as headliners on their Rhythm of the Night tour.

The next album featured the songwriting and producing talents of Diane Warren, David Foster, and Richard Perry to give them that extra leverage they needed; it includes the highlights "You Wear it Well," "The Heart is Not So Smart," "Who's Holding Donna Now?" and the title cut from that album. The latter reached number one on the R&B charts and also was a part of the soundtrack for Berry Gordy's film, The Last Dragon.

The group's demise came when one member, El, scored with a solo hit for another soundtrack.  The robot-influenced "Who's Johnny?" put the movie Short Circuit on the map and its soundtrack on the charts.  The "Best of" highlights that song from El, but leaves out the solo hits, if any, by fellow DeBarge members Bunny and Chico. Although the group's time in the spotlight passed a decade and a half ago, it is neat to look back and remember their fun songs and simple themes. Will a reunion ever be possible?  Probably not, but then again, who cares?

Andy Argyrakis 5/19/2001

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