Barry White – Stone Gon’ (1973)
Mighty Barry. You really can’t go wrong with any of Barry White’s early-to-mid 70s albums; the man was on a roll. He could no wrong. But, this (his 2nd album) is my favourite for a few reasons. Firstly, for me, Barry White shines brightest when the tempo drops to a slow, late night, dim-the-lights-and-fix-a-drink/lets-all-slip-into-something-more-velvet pace. I know he’s more remembered for his soulful anthems like “Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe” which reinforced the frame Marvin Gaye & Isaac Hayes were building for the disco scene, that would erupt a couple of years later with a few more beats per minute. And there’s no denying, all those classic performances are truly dynamic. But I prefer the sultry pseudo-spoken-word Barry of Stone Gon’. When Barry talks, you listen. He does this on other albums, on one or two tracks, (dig the ten minute make-out monsters “I Can’t Believe You Love Me” on Can’t Get Enough , and “Let Me Live My Life Lovin’ You Babe” on Just Another Way to Say I Love You ); but most of the tracks here are prime examples of what I love about Barry White. And they all clock in at around seven, eight or nine minutes. First up is: “Girl It’s True, Yes I’ll Always Love You”, and after two minutes of Barry laying down the law of love (‘women are sensitive…very sssensitive’), the grand splendour takes flight with strings sweeping over the laid-back rhythm, and when we hit that chorus the spell has been cast. Women were throwing their panties on stage, and boyfriends were taking notes: ‘Everything I have is you’, that’s gold Barry, can I use that? I also dig the fact there’s only five songs on this album, like some prog-rock concept album: The Candlelit Side of the Moon. And even though “Honey Please, Can’t Ya See” and “Never Never Gonna Give Ya Up” pick up the pace a bit, the slow-burn of the other three tracks still provide almost half an hour of sustained moody magic. The bass and drums seem to sit slightly behind the beat, the guitar whispers in the corner, and echoing saxophones languidly swim around in the prolonged foreplay of the songs, perfectly orchestrated. If I needed another reason to dig this album, just get a load of that cover, the ambient/sci-fi/prog undertones were superbly visualised here with Barry looking like some intergalactic prophet of love, beamed down from Venus to rescue the human race from an unfeeling future of empty detachment and soulless internet porn. Right on, Barry, right on.
by Decoy Spoon
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