Wax Poetic: Review of that one D. Train Song

Songs that fit the “that one D. Train song” category:

You’re the One for Me
Love Vibrations
Keep Giving Me Love
Music
Tryin’ to Get Over
Keep On

You may be asking yourself: what is D. Train? What do you mean by “that one D. Train song?” You listed more than one song! Well, dear readers, please let me clarify…

D. Train was a dance-funk/R&B duo that had a handful of successful songs during the early 1980‘s. These songs had smooth synthesized bass lines, four on the floor drumbeats, funky guitar comping, choppy rhythmic synths, ascending piano rolls, electronic bells and soulful vocals soaked in varying degrees of reverb. And while I listed six different songs at the top of this page, it is my personal opinion that D. Train wrote one song that served as a basis for every other funky floor burner that they ever produced. That song is “Keep On.”

I consider “Keep On” to be the best electro-tinged disco funk song to come out of the late 70‘s/early 80’s. This broad-yet-specific category inhabits a very different vein of funk than that of “(Not Just) Knee Deep” or even “Let’s Groove.” While Funkadelic let their funk flag proudly fly and Earth Wind and Fire orchestrated a formula-perfect robopop song, D. Train just wanted to guide you through your personal struggles as funkily as possible.

“Keep On” rides a fine line between funk ballad, dance floor filler and R&B anthem. Like almost every other D. Train song that would follow its release, “Keep On” asks you to stay strong and believe in yourself. It’s a pretty good message that works just as well in “Tryin’ to Get Over” and seems just as natural when you throw a romantic slant on the lyrics as exemplified on “You’re the One for Me” and “Keep Giving Me Love.” This simple plea to remember that anything is possible makes me question how much variation in lyrical content you really need to craft a set of memorable songs. I mean, in D. Train terms, you get at least six — just throw in an infectious backbeat and some keyboards manned by human rubber bands and you’re halfway there.

Truthfully, there are probably very few that could copy all of the moves from the D. Train musical playbook. There’s just something about the way that all of the elements come together: the musicianship, the million-dollar voice, the late-70’s derived warm production… Even if they all relate back to one monumental song, it still seems to add up to a collection of funky gems that never wear out their welcome.

D Train can be heard on DJ Dylan’s show Funklan every Tuesday from 10-Noon EST.

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