Barry White

Boss Soul: The Genius of Barry White

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In 1966-67, long before he attained seventies superstardom as a growling bedroom funkster, Barry White gained valuable experience as an A&R man for the Del-Fi label in Los Angeles. This compilation has 16 tracks that he was involved with as producer, engineer, songwriter, and/or session musician, the results appearing on Del-Fi's Bronco and Mustang subsidiaries; note, however, that only five of the cuts are by White himself (including one instrumental and a pre-Del Fi 1965 single released under the pseudonym of Lee Barry). At this time, White was very much under the spell of Motown both as producer and songwriter (he wrote or co-wrote all but two of these tunes). The material, whether by White or other Mustang/Bronco artists Felice Taylor, Viola Wills, and Johnny Wyatt, consists for the most part of very derivative, but nonetheless enjoyable and professional, Motown variations. Felice Taylor's "It May Be Winter Outside," a #42 pop hit in 1966, is the most accurate mid-'60s Supremes imitation bar none, both for Taylor's uncanny Diana Ross-like vocals and the dead-on Motownesque arrangement. Her only slightly less Supremish "Under the Influence of Love," though unreleased in the U.S., was a #11 hit in the U.K. in 1967; an instrumental version (credited to White) is also on the CD. As for White's own performances, it's a shock to hear that familiar hoarse voice applied to much lighter, poppier songs than we're accustomed to hearing from the singer, and though they're okay efforts, it's easy to see why they may not have been considered commercial properties in the '60s. An interesting document of White's little-heard formative years, and a decent pickup for aficionados of little-heard '60s soul in general.

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