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. Plus, he took full advantage of R&B's new lyrical permissiveness in the wake of Marvin Gaye's Let's Get It On. If his voice was limited, it was also a tremendous asset for the kind of music he recorded -- deep, resonant, caressing, but always suggestively masculine. The total package made White an R&B love-man icon not just for the disco era, but all time. For all but the most dedicated fans, All-Time Greatest Hits is one-stop shopping.
All-Time Greatest Hits Review
by Steve Huey