Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Barry White: All-Time Greatest Hits [Mercury, 1994]
White's R-rated revival was prefigured not by the latest disco boomlet, so hard to distinguish from its many predecessors, but by the jeepbeat masterminds who will certainly raid the maestro's catalogue as soon as he can get it for them wholesale. He did his share of banging back in the day, and he's always had the integrity to remain utterly lowbrow--street, as they say. Of course, the main thing White heard in the 'hood was the brandy-spiked whipped cream in his head, and with Phil Spector a living legend, nobody could know how few would share such genius. But two decades later "Love's Theme" is a milestone. And then there are his raps, as his style of romantic palaver was called, and a voice that could make Tone-Loc beg for mercy. Never an album artist, he's the stuff of camp for some, and limited for anyone who isn't his sex subject. But where 1993's box was way too much, this 20-song sampler has me hearing the deep truth in "Just the Way You Are": "I don't want clever/Conversation/I don't want to work that hard." A-