The next year, I saw that my dad had a Barry White greatest hits CD. Naturally, I took it and played it to death every day after school. Then I uncovered two old vinyls of The Man and Barry White Sings for Someone You Love. While traveling to Montreal that summer, all I could think of (besides being in lovely Canada!) was getting back home to the turntable, the LPs and listening to the sweet string ending of "Of All the Guys in the World". White so stridently yet so easily caresses his music with romantic tenderness. The idea of a former street hustler creating music dedicated to love and expressed through a 40-piece orchestra is just mind-boggling. I have since learned other definitions and exhibitions of emotion as it relates to music, but Barry was the 1st. He's the genesis for how I judge and interpret all of the other musicians I have come across.
So here is the 1st part of my ode to the Maestro of Love, a nice overview and intro to all of his albums.
I've Got So Much To Give (1973)
It was a great call. This album features three bona fide classics in its 5 tracks. The funky and raunchy "I'm Gonna Love You Just a Little More, Baby" went to #1 R&B and #3 pop. "I've Found Someone" is a sweet ode to finding new love, while the title track is an 8-minute ballad. It's driven by White's at-first somber piano intro and then carried by a magnificent orchestral arrangement complete with sweeping strings and bellowing French horns. It builds and builds and builds and then... drops off in the end to a drunk-on-love White rapping while cymbals fluttering like butterflies, a flute darts in and out, and a guitar caressingly rolls around.
Stone Gon' (1973)
The other three tracks are extended rappings, but they are impeccable night time music to relax to. Particularly the 2-3 minute outros on "Hard to Believe That I Found You" (with a plaintive sax) and "Girl It's True, Yes I'll Always Love You" are gorgeously slumber-inducing.
Can't Get Enough (1974)
Surprisingly, there is only one extended song, in contrast to the earlier albums. It's no great shakes. The two left over songs, though, ain't nothing to play with, especially "Oh Love We Finally Made It", which is built around a fine, rumbling bass line and closes with a sax wailing to high heaven. "I Love You More Than Anything (In This World Girl)" for the first time finds White in a bragging mood, perhaps gaining confidence in his abilities, by declaring "finders keepers, losers weepers" as he implores he new love to forget about her sad sack previous man.
Just Another Way to Say I Love You (1975)
"Heavenly, That's What You Are to Me" continues the Barry White tradition of closing songs on a gorgeous note, especially its harp and radiating guitar, but the whole thing is complimentary. "All Because Of You" reverses the formula though, commencing with two minutes of heavenly buildup, White calmly, confidently just throws out various things that exist all because he loves his special lady.
Of final note is the two-part "Love Serenade", easily the freakiest thing White recorded, which is hard to dispute when comes right on out and says "take it off... take it all off" in the song's first few seconds. Definitely not something for the kids. but I listened to it at age 12 and I turned out just fine.