The Ultimate Collection
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If the one-disc All-Time Greatest Hits leaves you panting for more, but the three-disc box set Just for You proves that one can, in fact, get enough of Barry White's love, well, then the two-disc Ultimate Collection is the anthology for you. An entire slow-jams industry has been erected in White's wake, but no one has done it better. Call it "funkzac"--an inimitable fusion of lush strings and suave brass dancing on a bed of funk and disco rhythms, with the manly maestro mixed prominently atop his seduction soundscapes. Ultimate Collection serves up enough cherry Barry to produce another baby boom. --W.C. Sweeney
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His first foray into music was as a member of the group The Upfronts who had 5 singles released on the Lumitone label from 1960 to 1964 (none of which charted). He then took his deep bass voice as a solo artist to Atlantic in 1964, and in 1966 recorded as Barry Lee for Downey (Man Ain't Nothin'/I Don't Need It), again without success. After working as the A&R man for a couple of years for two more small labels, he formed an all-female trio he named Love Unlimited in 1969 consisting of sisters Linda and Glodean (whom he would marry in 1974) James and Diane Taylor and, as their manager/producer, watched as their first hit, Walkin' In The Rain With The One I Love, hit # 6 R&B/# 14 Billboard Pop Hot 100 in the spring of 1972 for the Uni label. Barry added his voice to the song as "the man on the telephone."
By mid-1973 the group was with 20th Century where they would add 5 more hit singles to 1975 before switching to Unlimited Gold, there adding 4 more to 1980. In the meantime, Barry had organized the 40-piece Love Unlimited Orchestra to back their songs, and from late 1973 to 1977, with Barry conducting, that huge congregation added 7 instrumental hits of their own, including their first, Love's Theme (# 1 Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary (AC)/#10 R&B in December 1973/January 1974) which, some say, ushered in the "disco" sound.
The orchestra would also back Barry on many of his solo hits, which kicked in with I'm Gonna Love You Just A Little More Baby, a monster # 1 R&B (7 weeks at the top), # 3 Hot 100 and # 27 AC in May/June 1973 on 20th Century. He would add 19 more with that label to 1979, then 11 with Unlimited Gold from 1979 to 1982, and after being off the charts for five years, would have 15 more from 1987 to 1999 for A&M. Qwest, Cold Chillin', Virgin and Private Music.
In this great 2-CD package, which has excellent sound reproduction, you get all but one of his 20th Century hits (the missing one is Baby, We Better Try To Get It Together which hit # 29 R&B/# 92 Hot 100 in summer 1976), two from his Unlimited Gold days (It Ain't Love Babe (Until You Give It Up) and Love Makin' Music), four A&M hits (Sho' You Right, Put Me In Your Mix, Practice What You Preach and Come On), nd his last charter from summer 1999 on Private Music, the # 45 R&B Staying Power. Mixed in are three Love Unlimited Orchestra hits - Love's Theme, Satin Soul and My Sweet Summertime Suite. Full details of the contents are contained in the discography in the insert, which also contains four pages of liner notes written by Brian Chin, a well-known dance music/pop chronicler since 1978 for Record World, The Village Voice, Billboard, Record Mirror, Music Business International. the New York Post and London's Music Week.
Sadly, after suffering from chronic high blood pressure for years, resulting in kidney failure, Barry passed away on July 4, 2003. A little over a year later, on September 20, 2004, he was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame.
Disc 1 spans from 1972 to 1976, when Barry was a major force on the Hot 100 as well as in the studio. Just about every big hit Barry had is included here - "I'm Gonna Love You Just A Little More Baby", "Never Never Gonna Give You Up", "Can't Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe", "You're The First, The Last, My Everything", and "What I'm Gonna Do With You" still sounds as fresh and energetic as they did over 30 years ago. Combined with three Love Unlimited instrumentals and songs that failed on the pop charts but were big hits on the R & B charts, the first disc is grand - slam Barry.
Disc 2 kicks off with two of Barry biggest hits between 1974 and 1977, the lushly arranged "Love's Theme" and the odd thump of "It's Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next To Me" (which was something of a late - in - day hit for Barry), before delving into the final 22 years of his career. Here is where you'll find such uncharted gems like "Playing Your Game, Baby", "You're Sweetness Is My Weakness", "Love Serenade, Parts 1 And 2", "It Ain't Love Babe (Until You Give It)", "Practice What You Preach" (his last top 20 hit in 1994), and "Staying Power", his last chart single in 1999.
The producers of this disc also included a beautiful booklet featuring brilliant liner notes, intimate pictures of Barry, a timeline of all his albums, and chart listings for each of these songs. I think that this is the essential Barry White collection, full of timeless music that will be heard on radios all over the world for centuries to come.
The really great thing about its collection that it included his 1990s hits "Practice What You Preach" and "Stayin' Power" which is better than his 1994 "All-Time Greatest Hits" on one CD. If you are a fan, but are still not sure about his box set, then this is your ideal pick. Highly recommended!