The Best of the Love Unlimited Orchestra collects 15 tracks by Barry White's groundbreaking instrumental support outfit. Their sound as assembled by White – thick layers of sweet strings, pulsing beats, chunky wah-wah guitars, plus tinkling piano and gently swelling horns – played a huge role in creating the blueprint for disco, not to mention countless porn soundtracks. In addition to backing White and his female protégées Love Unlimited, the Love Unlimited Orchestra also made their own recordings, naturally with White at the helm. Although they recorded up to 1983, their commercial heyday lasted from 1974-1977, when they charted regularly on the pop, R&B, and disco/club listings. They even scored a number one pop hit right out of the box with 1974's "Love's Theme," a watershed record in the history of disco. That's here, of course, plus the Orchestra's other chart hits: "Satin Soul," "Rhapsody in White," "Forever in Love," "My Sweet Summer Suite," "Bring It on Up," and their theme from the 1977 remake of King Kong.
It took quite a while for a definitive Barry White compilation to hit the market, but All-Time Greatest Hits – part of Mercury's Funk Essentials series – finally filled the bill in 1995. Boasting a full 20 tracks from White's heyday of 1973-1978, more than half of which made the R&B Top Ten, All-Time Greatest Hits is easily the most generous single-disc White collection on the market. It includes the edited single versions, not the full-length album tracks, which actually makes for a more digestible introduction to White's achievements. Like his forebear Isaac Hayes, White was not just a deep-voiced crooner, but a talented producer and arranger who'd spent years honing his craft behind the scenes in the industry. And like Hayes, White spent a great deal of time setting up moods on his albums, using lush, sweeping orchestrations to build very gradually to climaxes. (Actually, that probably explains a good deal of his effectiveness.) But White was not simply a Hayes disciple; his swirling productions were less complex than Hayes', but more in tune with the emerging disco sound, which certainly boosted his popularity.
The press may have dubbed Barry White "the walrus of love," but he was certainly the guru of something for many star crossed lovers across his Love Unlimited Orchestra output. While White rocketed up the charts with his solo "I'm Gonna Love You Just a Little Bit More" in 1973, it was that same year's smash single "Love's Theme" that shot Love Unlimited Orchestra right up alongside him. Mostly instrumental, all orchestral, and packed with "that" tchka tchka guitar and full-fledged disco sound well before the genre reached maturity, Rhapsody in White set the stage and showcased the sounds that would shortly inspire a generation of producers, arrangers, and performers to start a million mirror balls spinning the world over. This album, in all its admitted smarminess, is a triumph.
Live performance from American soul singer-songwriter Barry White and the female vocal group, Love Unlimited. The concert features hits such as 'You're the First, the Last, My Everything', 'Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe' and 'I'm Gonna Love You Just a Little More Baby'.
Say the name Barry White and you'd be hard pressed to follow it with the name of any other recording artist with such a huge, cross-sectional following. He was at home appearing on Soul Train, guesting with a full band on The Today Show, and appearing in cartoon form in various episodes of The Simpsons. During the '70s, Dinah Shore devoted a full hour of her daily syndicated Dinah! show to White. While there was a period where Barry White wasn't releasing records or making the pop charts, he did stay active touring and appearing on other artists' records including Quincy Jones' "The Secret Garden (The Seduction Suite)," Regina Belle, and rap star Big Daddy Kane's "All of Me." It's surprising to find out that such an illustrious career almost didn't happen because White wasn't interested in being a recording artist.