Barry White The Icon Is Love
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Derrick Dunn

Second Listen Sunday: Barry White,The Icon Is Love

Love Mysterio Barry White was already an icon when his nineteenth studio album, The Icon Is Lovehit stores on October 4, 1994. Growing up, I always heard Barry’s name or music during the quiet storm but didn’t truly appreciate it. However, when he did a voice cameo and performed “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe on “Whacking Day,” the twentieth episode of season 4 of The Simpsons, his coolness factor raised a notch for twelve-year-old me. Thanks to my mom and my late Gramps, Barry’s music was readily accessible.

From a sales point of view, Barry’s most enormous success was in the seventies. However, he continued to make quality albums. Led by the seductive single “Practice What You Preach,” The Icon Is Love would achieve double platinum success. There is a simmering arrangement and evocative lyric in “Practice What You Preach,” which feature the production skills of Gerald LeVert and Edwin Nicholas. Throughout the track, White combines enthusiasm and dynamism with a delicate blend. With a captivating melody and sultry female backing vocals, this already outstanding track is enhanced even more.  

The successful musical kinship between White, Levert, and Nicholas carries over to “There It Is,” a mid-tempo ballad that every grown man should play for his lady during a night about her. White delivers an effective spoken word to set the mood before crooning a note. Legendary producers Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis provide the next track, “I Only Want to Be With You, ” reminding me of White’s seventies work. Jam & Lewis also lace their talents to “Come On,” another mid-tempo winner.

White’s Godson and vastly underrated musician Chuckii Booker laces Barry with the dance floor-ready bops “The Time Is Right” and “Sexy Undercover,” both of which still sound fresh. Barry also finds time to work with long-time collaborator Jack Perry on the “Love Is the Icon” and “Whatever We, We Had.” The former comes off a bit as filler, considering the strength of the material that precedes the song.

However, “Whatever We, We Had” is ten minutes of slow jam bliss. The song is a breakup song, but when Mr. White says, “We started as friends so there’s no reason why we should not end as friends,” “Whatever we had, we had its over, it is over now,” he’s able to comfort even the most brokenhearted.

The Icon Is Love features a modernized sound that caters to both new and old fans. In hindsight, the album is A textbook example of how a legacy can still release new music without changing the formula.

 

Final Grade: A

The Icon Is Love is available on all streaming platforms. 

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