My pick for the day is Switch’s “I Call Your Name” from Switch II released in 1979, is really a small ode to the forgotten R&B wunderkinds: the DeBarges. The DeBarges hailed from Detroit, they were mixed race pastor’s kids learning to sing and play through the church. Berry Gordy signed them up near the end of Motown’s popularity hoping to replicate some kind of Jackson 5-level success. The problem is that this family, particularly El DeBarge the youngest, loved Marvin Gaye and truly excelled at replicating the sound and feel of the Master’s greatest ballads.
“I Call Your Name” was the first salvo of his unique style. Listen to his falsetto vocals which gives his tone a deliberate feminine delivery (a favorite trick of Marvin). The groove arranged by his older brother Bobby, is a reflective version of the Motown swing…its a hybrid throwback in a time when soul music was moving away entirely from the Motown sound. This adds up to a wonderfully androgynous slinky groove…this was the stuff that must have flipped Prince’s wig at the time (it also became Switch’s first hit song). Anyway, this gorgeous love song, very pacifying in a way, gives an inkling of what the DeBarges had in store for the future.