Groundbreaking, gospel-influenced debut from 1982.
Daryl Easlea 2012-09-12
D-Train was the sound of American urban music in the early 80s. The professional collaboration of school friends James "D-Train" Williams and Hubert Eaves III, the duo created a slender catalogue of richly soulful, dynamic dance music that was steeped in gospel. Williams wrote and sang and Eaves produced, arranged and played.
Their mixture of electronics and emotion led to some compelling moments, most notably their calling card and most enduring anthem, You're the One for Me. With its sequenced handclaps, thundering synth bass and its fluttery, repetitive electronic melody, the song is enlivened by Williams' throaty delivery.
When he sings the repeated refrain of “With the love I have inside of me, we could turn this world around,” over the breakdown, it is like the world's most charismatic preacher encapsulating the remarkable purity and longing of the first flush of true love. The song gave them a Billboard Dance number one and a top 30 UK hit in February 1982.
The uplifting and inspirational Keep On is almost equal to the album’s title track. It too has a remarkable, repeated breakdown (“Sky is the limit and you know that you can have what you want, be who you want”), which was later incorporated into the Rockers Revenge version of Eddy Grant’s Walking on Sunshine.
The rest of the album simply cannot live up to these two tracks, but it continues their rapturously exuberant theme. Lucky Day is a sweet, conventional ballad; and Love Vibrations, with its fast synth bass, sounds like early Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis productions. A version of Walk on By, although slightly perfunctory, acts as a marvellous showcase for Williams.
Although they only made three albums, D-Train created some of the most enduring records of the early 80s. They took their heady template and developed it to its apogee with Music from their 1983 album of the same name, but You're the One For Me captures a moment where the old met the new, and it still sounds vibrant. Its influence can be heard on early house records, such as Farley ‘Jackmaster’ Funk’s Love Can't Turn Around and Ten City’s That's the Way Love Is.