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.
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.
Thanks to the dedicated effort of the folks at Real Gone, this often bootlegged date by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band gets its first official release. These 13 tracks come from a smoking date at the Unicorn Coffee House in Boston. Nobody's sure of the exact date, but estimates put it somewhere during a two-week run in May, two months before the band's classic East-West was released. There's over an hour of music on what amounts to the first recorded document from this sextet: hard-grooving Chicago drummer Billy Davenport (Sam Lay left after the band's debut album) joined vocalist/harmonicist Butterfield, guitarists Mike Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop, organist Mark Naftalin, and bassist Jerome Arnold.