When people talk about the most successful male soul singers of the last forty years, they tend to think of Al Green, Billy Paul, Stevie Wonder and Teddy Pendergrass. However, there’s another singer that had a hugely successful career, with seven US number one US R&B albums, six albums certified gold and three albums certified platinum. The last of these albums Staying Power was certified double platinum. Add to that three compilation albums that were certified platinum, with one of them certified double platinum. Oh, and not to forget the six US R&B number singles this artist had. Over a career that spanned four decades, starting in 1972 and ending in 2003, Barry White was one of the superstars of soul music. With his distinctive bass voice and an image steeped in romance, Barry White was one of the biggest selling and most successful soul singers of the past forty years.

One of Barry White’s most successful and greatest album was Can’t Get Enough, his third album, released in February 1974. It was Barry’s third successive US R&B number one album and became his only number one in the US Billboard 200. Like his two previous albums, 1973s I’ve Got So Much To Give and Stone Gon’, Can’t Get Enough was certified gold. Meanwhile, in the UK, Can’t Get Enough reached number four in the album charts, becoming Barry’s biggest selling UK album so far. When Can’t Get Enough was released, the reviews were mixed. Although some critics loved the album, others felt it was too similar to his previous albums, and his way of making music rather formulaic. Two singles were released from the album. Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe was the first single released from the album, reaching number one in the US R&B Chart and US Billboard 100. You’re the First, the Last, My Everything also reached number one in the US R&B Charts and number two in the US Billboard 100. Overall, Can’t Get Enough had been a hugely successful album, reaching number one in the US R&B and US Billboard 200 and yielding two hugely successful and memorable singles. Having given you the background to Can’t Get Enough, I’ll now tell you what it sounds like.

Can’t Get Enough opens with Mellow Mood (Part I), a track that has an understated sound. It’s just keyboards, shimmering, sweeping sometimes slightly, dramatic strings that are accompanied by chiming guitars and rhythm section. Later bursts of subtle horns enter, with the track having a beautiful mellow laid back sound. Slowly, the track’s understated beauty reveals itself, before giving way to something much more uptempo, and equally stunning.

You’re the First, the Last, My Everything is by far, one of Barry’s best, and best know tracks. Barry’s husky, sensual deep voice half-speaks the introduction against a backdrop of rhythm section, guitars, the lushest sweeping, swirling strings and piano. The track sweeps beautifully along, with female backing vocalists gently accompanying Barry. Their voices provide a contrast to Barry deep, bass voice. By now, swathes of sweeping strings, the rhythm section and piano are key to this gorgeous sounding track, that’s catchy and laden with hooks. Like the opening track, horns are used sparingly, towards the end of the track, where they’re sprinkled sparingly. When this fantastic arrangement is combined with Barry’s sensuous vocal, the result is the best track on the album, a timeless classic that sounds just as good today, as it did when I first heard it 1974.

The epic track on the album is I Can’t Believe You Love Me, which lasts nearly ten and a half minutes. Against a slow, meandering backdrop of chiming guitars, rhythm section keyboards and subtle horns, Barry gives sensuous, half-spoken vocal. Before long, slow, sweeping strings enter, while a rasping horn drifts above the slow, spacious arrangement. Female backing vocalists accompany Barry, uniting sweetly and soulfully behind him. After three minutes, his vocal begins. It’s slow, with a husky sound, as he sings about how he can’t believe his new girlfriend loves him. He feels lucky, grateful she loves him, and emotively and passionately expresses his feelings. Behind him, the same drumbeat is continuously played with regularity, while lush strings and keyboards are responsible for what’s a very beautiful arrangement, one of the best on Can’t Get Enough. Barry sings the lyrics beautifully, with a combination of emotion and tenderness, resulting in a gorgeous love song.

When Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe it provided Barry with a number one single in both the US R&B Charts and US Billboard 100. Straight away, it’s obvious why this was such a successful track, it’s fantastic sounding track, one that was quite different to most soul music of that time. Chiming, shimmering guitars, subtle bursts of horns, rhythm section and sweeping, swirling  strings accompany Barry’s sultry vocal. Once drums punctuate the sound, the track opens up, the tempo quickening and the arrangement getting fuller. Still lush swirling, quivering strings and the punchy rhythm section are key to the track’s sound. Now keyboards and piano join the arrangement, which just seems to get even better, as it flows quickly along with hooks aplenty. Meanwhile, Barry’s vocal is full of passion, his deep bass voice energetic and dynamic. However, what I like about this track is the string drenched arrangement. Like the music being produced in Philadelphia by Gamble and Huff and Thom Bell, Barry White used swathes of the sweetest, lushest strings on his albums. This resulted in a beautiful, emotive sound, that’s truly irresistible, especially when combined with Barry White’s seductive vocal.

Oh Love, Well We Finally Made It, is a track that has a slow, meandering arrangement, that gradually reveals it lush beauty. Against a backdrop of rhythm section, percussion and piano, Barry half-speaks the introduction, while sweet backing vocalists gently accompany him. It’s then that the arrangement grows, with the rhythm section being joined by shimmering strings, breathless sounding backing vocalists and chiming guitars. Atop the arrangement sits Barry’s husky, charismatic vocal, enveloped by layers of strings and the rhythm section that provides the track’s heartbeat. Blazing horns and piano enter, and like the strings and backing vocalists, both play important roles in the success of the track’s sound. Together, they provide a fuller, quite sumptuous sounding arrangement, perfect for Barry sultry sounding vocal.

As I Love You More Than Anything (In This World Girl) opens, it has a slightly dramatic, punchy sound. Keyboards, rhythm section and shimmering strings are joined by guitars, before Barry’s joyful vocal enters. He’s happy to have got back together with his girlfriend who he thought he’d lost for good, and loves her even more than before. The arrangement has both a punchy and sweeping sound, with the rhythm section providing this punchiness, while the strings help the track to sweep along. Meanwhile, there’s a warmth in Barry’s joyful, raspy vocal, reflecting his lyrics, which when combined with a great arrangement, resulting in another great love song from Barry

Can’t Get Enough closes Mellow Mood (Part II), a similar sounding track to the opening one Mellow Mood (Part I). Layers of beautiful, grand, sweeping strings are accompanied by chiming guitars and the rhythm section for a track that flows along with a slightly, melodramatic but quite beautiful sound. It would’ve been nice to have heard more of this track, as just under a minute and a half leaves you wanting more, much more of its inherent beauty.

Along with the music on Philadelphia International Records, I grew up listening to Barry White’s music. He wasn’t a particularly fashionable artist to like, in the UK in the early to mid seventies, but that didn’t bother me. I’ve never been one to be swayed by musical tastes, preferring instead to enjoy good music, regardless of whether it’s fashionable or not. Now over thirty years later, I still love Barry White’s music, with Can’t Get Enough one of my favorite albums by Barry. Although it has just seven tracks, and lasts only thirty-two minutes, they’re thirty-two majestic minutes of music. On the album are two of Barry’s biggest singles You’re the First, the Last, My Everything and Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe. These two classic tracks alone, almost make buying the album worthwhile. However, if you add to that the luscious beauty of Mellow Mood (Part I) and Mellow Mood (Part II), that bookend the album, with the epic I Can’t Believe You Love Me and Oh Love, Well We Finally Made It, then Can’t Get Enough is an album well worth buying. It’s a good introduction to Barry White’s studio albums, and gives a good overview of what his classic seventies music sounded like. With Barry White, there’s such a wide choice of albums available, but his first three albums, I’ve Got So Much To Give, Stone Gon’ and Can’t Get Enough are a good starting point. These albums are a wonderful introduction to one of the most talented and successful soul singers of the past forty years. Standout Tracks: You’re the First, the Last, My Everything, I Can’t Believe You Love Me, Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe and Oh Love, Well We Finally Made It.


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