Saturday, June 30, 2018


If you think you know Barry White, that low, smooth-talking lover man from those '70's hits such as Can't Get Enough Of Your Love Babe and You're The First, The Last, My Everything, that's just one-third of what he was up to during that decade. The producer-writer-arranger had a grand vision of what he wanted to accomplish, one that developed slowly over several years and then exploded with a huge run of multi-million sellers. The other two parts of his empire are featured in these collections, both of which feature his writing and production.

Love Unlimited was actually where it all started. They were a trio of women, one of whom became White's wife, who had a hit called Walkin' In The Rain With The One I Love in 1972. It was unique, featured the classic soul female trio but with a funky update. Then there were sound effects of rain, and of all things, a phone conservation between two lovers. The male voice, well that was Barry himself, and fans went nuts for that sexy voice. The song went gold, and while he went about finding new hits for the trio, he also got signed to do his own solo tracks based on his guest appearance. That of course went crazy, starting in 1973. White put together a large group to accompany his hits and Love Unlimited too. It featured top-level L.A. session players, and film orchestra players too.  It became known as the Love Unlimited Orchestra.

White's next move was to get the Orchestra on record. Some of the flip sides of Love Unlimited's singles were instrumentals, and soon White started giving the orchestra the A-sides, with December of 1973 seeing Love's Theme do the most surprising thing. An orchestral, early disco instrumental, it hit #1, and now White had three different hit-making acts, all under one roof. He was in charge of it all, and pumped out gold record at an alarming rate, becoming just as big internationally. 

The Love Unlimited Orchestra is two discs, which includes A and B-sides, plus 12-inch extended cuts of some. That gets a little tiresome, as the sugary-sweet orchestra, strings over funky grooves, didn't advance much over its career. They did start making movie themes near the end of the '70's, disco versions of the themes from King Kong and Superman, as well as a take on Shaft, so there's some welcome melodies there, but you'll have to be quite a fan to want repeated listens. It's easier to get into the Love Unlimited trio, who were a good trio, still doing the classic soul singing, but with disco grooves driving the beat. They had four chart hits over a couple of years, and probably could have had more, if White hadn't got so wrapped up in his own platinum success. Still, the trio and the orchestra were part of White's touring act too, so they all got to take part in those glorious times. I'd pick up the single-disc set on the trio if you're a soul vocal fan.

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