Friday, August 8, 2014

TAKE TWO: BARRY WHITE


With that smooth, bass voice and songs of sensual romance, Barry White was one of the top creators of sexy, baby-making, soul music that became very popular throughout the 1970's.

White's early childhood in South Central L.A. was filled with crime and gang activity but after a stint in jail, where he heard the Elvis Presley song, "It's Now or Never", he decided to change his life's course. White moved in to music and performed with several vocal groups before being hired to do A&R for Del-Fi Records in the early 1960's.

White's first major break came when he discovered a female singing group, Love Unlimited which included his future wife, Glodean James. He wrote and produced their debut, "From a Girl's Point of View We Give to You... Love Unlimited" in 1972. The single, "Walking In The Rain With The One I Love" was inspired by conversations White had with James and went on to sell over half a million copies.

While preparing demos for another artist, the record label heard the songs and insisted that White release them using his vocals. White was very reluctant to put himself out there as a solo performer and the label had to work hard to convince him. In 1973, White's first album, "I've Got So Much To Give" was released and, like his record label predicted, went on to become a major smash. The first single, "I'm Gonna Love You Just a Little More Baby" went to number one on the r&b chart and number three on the U.S. pop chart. Other top-ten hits (with equally lengthy titles) followed including "Never, Never Gonna Give Ya Up","What Am I Gonna Do with You", "You're the First, the Last, My Everything" and "Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe". White also found success with his 40-piece orchestral backing band, The Love Unlimited Orchestra who had a number one instrumental song, "Love's Theme" in 1974 and is credited in helping usher in the disco era.

By the 1980's, White was still making music but record sales and radio play had diminished. The beginning of a comeback occurred in 1990 with White contributing vocals for a Quincy Jones track, "The Secret Garden (Sweet Seduction Suite)" which reached number one on the r&b chart. A few years later, White made a triumphant return to the top of the r&b chart with "Practice What You Preach" from the equally successful album, "The Icon Is Love".

After years of suffering from several health issues due to his weight, White died from complications from a stroke in 2003. The love songs of Barry White continues to stir passion within listeners and gets them moving either on the dance floor or in the bedroom (wink, wink). Here are two of my favorites cuts from the Man:



"Never Never Gonna Give Ya Up" - Barry White (1973)



"It's Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next to Me" - Barry White (1977)

YOUR SONG

Americans probably know Rita Ora  more for her fashion-forward looks on a red carpet (including her recent appearance at the Met Ball),...