Others tried to do what he did, but nobody could do what he did (like he could do it, baby). The best Barry White songs may have made him the boss of bedroom soul (and the ruler of songs with brackets in their titles), but if you are stuck with the idea that he was an example of 70s excess, you should kick back and really listen. This guy had the funk, the soul, and the disco down to a T.
Here are 20 thrilling tracks from The Man and his talented allies such as Love Unlimited and The Love Unlimited Orchestra. They are sexy, steamy, and romantic, yes, but also full of the real low-down slow-jam swing. Once you’ve heard Barry White, the others just don’t do it right…
Think we’ve missed some of your best Barry White songs? Let us know in the comments section, below.
20: You’re The First, The Last, My Everything
A Barry White anthem, declaring undying devotion on his 1974 Can’t Get Enough album. The melody is logical, churning through the chord changes, while Love Unlimited offer vocal support. The White machine was in full flow for this monster.
19: You See The Trouble With Me
Barry is lost without his woman – no surprise, given his evident fixation on love and romance. A huge UK pop hit, “You See The Trouble With Me” somehow didn’t match this success in the States. Listen for the superb guitar figures provided by future Ghostbusters theme-song star Ray Parker, Jr, who played on numerous Barry classics and co-wrote this one.
18: Your Sweetness Is My Weakness
Barry White produced this song for singer Jackie Lee – aka Earl Nelson of “Harlem Shuffle” hitmakers Bob And Earl – in 1970, and Lee returned to it using the alias Jay Dee, under White’s supervision, in 1974. But Barry’s brilliantly arranged disco cut ruled, and was the key track on his 1978 album The Man. That vocal… so calm, so in control.
17: Move Me No Mountain (Love Unlimited)
Pure class: perfect and precise mid-70s soul from the group that comprised Barry’s wife, Glodean, her sister Linda, and Diane Taylor. The White stuff is here, but the feel is so tender: they don’t want a hero, they want someone who really cares. From the collectible, much-pirated Love Unlimited album In Heat (1974).
16: It’s Ecstasy When You Lay Down With Me
The hard-edged opening groove: can this really be Barry? It was, and was a massive hit in 1977, refreshing his commercial appeal. Sound familiar? Some of it was rehashed on Robbie Williams’ “Rock DJ.”
15: It’s Only Love Doing Its Thing
A superbad intimate slow jam, perfect for a spot of two-step strutting or a seduction scene. From the album The Man, “It’s Only Love Doing Its Thing” was picked up by Simply Red, who covered it as “It’s Only Love.”
14: Sweet Moments (Love Unlimited Orchestra)
This halting, quiet storm of a song has a pensive, underplayed feel, full of badass Barry White bedroom funk. The original B-side of the 1973 hit “Love’s Theme,” it deserves more attention in its own right.
13: Standing In The Shadows Of Love
On the first song from White’s first solo album, I’ve Got So Much To Give, Barry pays tribute to Motown, one of his key influences. Those who say he borrowed a lot from Isaac Hayes could cite the feel of this Four Tops cover as evidence, but within the same album, Barry flew beyond Hayes’ powerful gravitational pull.
12: Never, Never Gonna Give You Up
Barry White sounds dark and obsessed on this song from his Stone Gon’ album. He ain’t letting you go. Never, never.
11: I’ve Found Someone
Presumably, he meant Glodean, Mrs. White. From Barry White’s first album, the lover man plays it low, slow and sincere on a tune with a Philly feel.
10: Satin Soul (Love Unlimited Orchestra)
Barry White’s backing group, The Love Unlimited Orchestra, cut records in their own right under Barry’s production umbrella, with White and orchestrator Gene Page running this tight ship. “Satin Soul,” from their 1974 album White Gold, was an early disco monster, covered by artists as diverse as Boris Gardiner and Henry Mancini, as well as Page, who delivered his own version.
9: You’re The One I Need
The chilling strings, the heavy slow groove: it must be late 70s Barry White. This pulse-stirring song from 1979’s The Message Is Love album was sampled a couple of times by Tupac Shakur, and looped by Heavy D and Big Daddy Kane, but the original is still the daddy.
8: What Am I Gonna Do With You
The groove on this song is so slick and tight, it’s like Barry White pushed a button and it came out 3D printed. But this is no robotic proto-disco workout: listen to the big man’s agony here. He can’t deal with the passion his woman is putting on him, it’s just too strong.
7: Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe
Barry White is insatiable – but only for you. He knows this unstoppable desire is beyond control and he admits he finds himself screaming – which, in reality, Barry doesn’t often do. He’s actually a rather controlled vocalist who picks his asides carefully. This wickedly driven steady groover was a US No.1 in 1974, and donated a title to his only US No.1 pop album, Can’t Get Enough. His fans really couldn’t.
6: I’m Qualified To Satisfy You
From 1977’s Is This Whatcha Wont?, Barry White has what it takes for bedtime satisfaction – and we’re talking licks more than Horlicks. The album went beyond Barry’s usual limits of propriety; that sounds like a mild cuss word in the fourth line of the song. And that guitar? Is it implying a fast-flicking tongue? You decide.
5: Playing Your Game, Baby
Almost a blueprint for hip-hop, “Playing Your Game, Baby” is like a groove loop played by humans, with occasional icy string stabs that could easily be scratches. Barry is locked in a sexy, perhaps even kinky game with his lover. Everyone wins.
4: Let The Music Play
A hit single in 1975 and title track of an album issued the following year, which offers a longer cut that presents us with a picture of Barry trudging the streets alone before heading for a disco in the hope of forgetting a failing relationship. It won’t work, Barry, you care too much.
3: All Because Of You
Gentle as a falling feather, this gloriously sensitive tune is pure symphonic soul, with churning guitars, strings like silk sheets and so much space in the mix. From 1975’s utterly mighty album Just Another Way To Say I Love You.
2: You’re So Good, You’re Bad
Another thriller from the Sings For Someone You Love album, this taking-its-time groover has a light-steppin’, Latin feel (Barry White cut a few songs with a Latin vibe) and keeps the vocal content to a minimum. The music is enough of a loving message in itself.
1: I’m Gonna Love You Just A Little More Baby
Those opening drums are among the most sampled sounds in hip-hop, but “I’m Gonna Love You Just A Little More Baby” stands entirely on its own merits as the utterly arresting song that launched Barry White’s solo chart career and introduced the world to his personal brand of funky soul. But Barry lied: he loved us so much more than a little.
Looking for more? Discover how Barry White’s romantic soul seduced the world.