Barry White

I've Got So Much to Give

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Barry White turned into such iconic figure that it’s odd to hear his beginnings on his 1973 debut I’ve Got So Much to Give. In a sense, his sound is fully formed -- there’s no mistaking his velvet baritone or his lush, string-draped surrounding, particularly on the album’s closing “I’m Gonna Love You Just a Little More, Baby,” a song so seductive it set the pace for the rest of his career. Still, behind that creamy drapery it’s possible to hear a strong debt to Isaac Hayes throughout I’ve Got So Much to Give, particularly when the whole affair opens a slow, steady, eight-minute crawl through “Standing in the Shadows of Love” that strips all the bounciness out of the Supremes original, just like how all of Hayes reworkings of ‘60s pop hits turned the hit versions inside out on Hot Buttered Soul. Barry may be following in Isaac’s footsteps, but he winds up on his own path, one that isn’t quite as ambitious, one that is fairly hellbent on romance to the exclusion of everything else. Compared to what White did later, I’ve Got So Much to Give does display a fair amount of extraneous frills -- this is all about sex, but there are shifting textures and moods, it’s more serious about its seduction because White’s reputation as a loverman is not secure -- which makes it a richer, more interesting record than much of his body of work, perhaps containing some dead ends, but being all the more captivating for its slight touch of messiness. [Hip-O Select’s 2010 reissue contains instrumental tracks of “Just a Little More, Baby” and “I’ve Got so Much to Give” as bonus tracks.]

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