Saturday, April 25, 2009

April 25: Barry White, "Can't Get Enough"

Artist: Barry White
Album: Can't Get Enough
Year: 1974
Label: 20th Century

It is a true testament that, nearly forty years after his debut release, no artist can even come close to Barry White when it comes to the perfect soundtrack for those "special moments" in life. With his legendary voice and heartfelt lyrics, there are few artists who were able to achieve true crossover success as well as White did throughout the 1970's. Beyond music, White is held as a worldwide superstar, having appeared in everything from movies, to commercials, to a memorable appearance on The Simpsons. However, it is his voice and his style that will forever remain as his most notable talent. While every record he released on the 20th Century label is a disco-soul classic, his third album, 1974's Can't Get Enough may be the finest recording of his career.

As he did throughout nearly all of his career, Barry White handles his own production duties, and this helps to ensure that the album is exactly how he wanted it to sound. Throughout Can't Get Enough, White crafts a wonderful combination of disco classics and slow, funky, soulful love ballads. Aside from the disco-based songs, a clear influence from the work of Issac Hayes can clearly be heard on most of White's early albums. Yielding a pair of number one singles in "You're The First, My Last, My Everything" and "Can't Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe," the album itself also reached the top of the charts in both the US and UK. The album contains the original mix of "Can't Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe," which has a different runtime and musical arrangement than the single version with which most people are familiar.

Along with producing Can't Get Enough, White also wrote all of the lyrics, and wrote all of the string and horn arrangements. Even the most novice music listener can clear hear that the arrangements that White has put together are stunningly complex. The fact that such complex classically styled arrangements were able to top the charts is nothing short of amazing. Each song is absolutely beautiful, and the "late night" mood that White creates remains unrivaled to this day. The string section on Can't Get Enough is spectacular, creating lush backdrops on the ballads, and yet being able to take a more prominent, and perhaps unorthodox, role on many of the upbeat, more disco-based songs. White flawlessly incorporates some of the funkiest guitar riffs around as well as Moog keyboards as well as featuring a beautiful Bösendorfer piano on "I Love You More Than Anything." White's ability to work with such a wide range of instruments and sounds, and yet create a seamless, alluring sound truly shows what a talented a musician he was beyond his legendary voice.

Barry White has a voice that can never be mistaken for another. Perhaps the deepest, most rich voice to ever record, White's voice is as much a legend as the man himself. Throughout Can't Get Enough, as well as most of his career, White mixes his normal speaking voice into his singing, and it helped to create his distinctive sound. Both styles are what helped to earn White the nickname of "The Man With The Velvet Voice." While the lyrics on Can't Get Enough are still a bit more tame and subtle than those White would later write, the themes of love and those things that go on behind closed doors are still at the center of White's music. Clocking in at over ten minutes, White's classic, "I Can't Believe You Love Me," features minutes of White seductively speaking to his love interest, pouring his heart out before breaking into a majestic, soulful ballad. It is these seamless changes in vocal delivery, combined with the breathtaking music that makes the music of Barry White truly distinctive and sensational.

Barry White is something beyond the term "music legend." From his voice to the notorious content and style of his music, he is truly one of a kind, and there will never be an artist that even comes close to his sound. White's definingly deep and smooth voice has been wooing fans, both male and female, for nearly forty years, and it proves that what he created was something that remains truly timeless. Can't Get Enough features White's brilliant string and horn arrangements, overlain with some of the most soulful and sexy lyrics that have ever been written. Reaching prominence during the rise and apex of disco, White stayed true to his musical style, and was able to achieve continued international success throughout his entire career. For the first decade of his career, White released nearly a dozen brilliant albums on the 20th Century label. While they are all worth owning, his 1974 release, Can't Get Enough may be the best of the bunch and is an absolute essential for every music collection.

Standout tracks: "You're The First, The Last, My Everything," "Can't Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe," and "I Can't Believe You Love Me."

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