Saturday, July 9, 2011

July 9: Barry White, "Can't Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe"

Artist: Barry White
Song: "Can't Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe"
Album: Can't Get Enough
Year: 1974

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While it can often lead to people missing out on a great deal of amazing music, it is not uncommon for music fans to write-off entire genres simply because of the overall stereotype of that style of music.  Though one can find examples of this with every type of music, it is often easiest applied to styles like punk, country, and perhaps moreso than any other: disco.  There may be no other style of music in all of history that has managed to earn as negative a reputation as this alternate term for dance music, and yet when one looks deeply into the genre, there is a massive amount of diversity that falls under this name.  The way in which a number of artists were able to fuse together this new dance sound with many of the styles that were already established led to some of the most brilliantly creative songs ever recorded, and one would be hard pressed to find any other artist that was able to single-handedly define an entire sub-genre of music better than soul-disco icon, Barry White.  His name alone instantly brings to mind not only a image of the man himself, but his voice that very well may be the most unmistakable in all of music history, and yet for many people, he is somehow not associated with the disco sound.  Yet when one looks into his recorded catalog, there can be no question that his success was largely due to the framework of disco, and there are few songs in history that can hold their own alongside the smooth, upbeat sound of Barry White's 1974 classic, "Can't Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe."

There are not many moments from any point in music history that can compare to the overall level of laid-back, mellow tones that open "Can't Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe," and this mood is led by the flickering guitar from Ray Parker, Jr and Wah Wah Watson.  These two, along with third guitarist David Walker, manage to inject an amazing level of tension into the early moments of the song, and yet even with this reality, the relaxed feel is never disrupted.  Their sound is perfectly complimented by the almost teetering hi-hat ride from drummer Ed Greene, and the anticipation of the song itself "dropping in" is unlike any other song in history.  Rounding out the band is bassist Wilton Fielder, and it is in his performance where much of the groove resides.  Yet one cannot overstate the importance of the string section that White brought together for "Can't Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe," as it is their shimmering sound that is able to carry the listener away, and they and an unheralded level of depth to the song.  It is also within the string section that the song leans more to the "disco side" as opposed to soul, and it is in their sound where one can picture a packed dance club under a spinning mirror-ball.  However, the combined sound of the musicians has a very distinctive and deep sway, and they never lose sight of the soulful roots of the song, making "Can't Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe" one of the most perfectly balanced songs ever recorded.

However, while the musical arrangement on "Can't Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe" has certainly become legendary in its own right, there is simply no getting past the one-of-a-kind voice of Barry White.  In both the sound and style which he brings to every song, there has never been another artist that comes even remotely close to White's signature vocals, and due to this truly unique sound, his voice in itself has become a way of describing or comparing others.  While he is certainly best known for the deep, yet full notes which he used a majority of the time, on songs like "Can't Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe," White also showed that he could easily work far higher in the musical register with results that were just as brilliant.  It is also the intense level of emotion and honesty that he brings to songs like this that makes his vocals so fantastic, and one can easily feel his close proximity to the words which he sings.  Furthermore, even though the lyrics were written about a very specific individual (White's wife), due to the way he phrases the song, as well as in the way he presents each line, "Can't Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe" has become as much of a "love anthem" as has ever been recorded.  White holds nothing back, and it is how he completely commits to every single line of the song, letting the emotion push his unmistakable voice as it wants, that turned "Can't Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe" into such an iconic moment in music history.

Truth be told, there are actually two rather different mixes "Can't Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe" that can be found.  The more familiar version is the one taken directly from the album, which features White giving a "spoken" introduction over the opening guitar piece.  However, there was a second version released, with more than a minute edited out, and White instead singing the songs' chorus during the opening moments.  This latter version also has a slightly different mix insofar as instrumentation is concerned, and White also adds a second, backing vocal track during the chorus sections.  While this latter version is not "bad" in any way, it is the album cut of "Can't Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe" that is where the complete talent and glory of Barry White can be best experienced.  The way in which he is able to bring such an overwhelming amount of soul and feeling to the song is absolutely uncanny, and yet if one treats the song fairly, there is no question that in its sound and structure, it is as "disco" a song as one will find anywhere.  Yet it is this reality that proves that much like every other genre, there is a great amount of diversity within a single term, and one simply cannot ignore an entire style of music simply due to the way that it has been painted over time.  From the almost enchanting musical arrangement to the truly extraordinary vocals, there are few moments in history that are on par with Barry White's timeless 1974 single, "Can't Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe."

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