WITH THE current runaway success of Barry White, it should hardly come as any surprise that his number one creation, Love Unlimited, should be enjoying more popularity than at any time in their short career. In fact, long before Mr. White's current incredible acceptance as a star in his own right, he was devoting all of his time to putting the three charming young ladies at the top of their field as the number one female group. And, present indications suggest, he has certainly come a very long way to achieving his aim.
The girls — Glodean, Diane and Linda — first teamed up whilst at high school in San Pedro, not far from Los Angeles and at first, they just worked in and around L.A. Their meeting came about through a friend who had asked, them to come along to back her up at a session that Barry was going to produce.
"Barry realised that we were not just a back-up group as soon as we met and we showed him one of the few songs we'd written then — and he seemed to like it and us! Funny thing, you know, that girl's record was never released after all but Barry did meet us and the whole concept and idea behind Love Unlimited began," explained Glodean, in between mouthfuls of grapefruit juice and ham — the girls were busy eating breakfast at nearly 3.30 p.m. during the course of their all-too-short stay here.
Barry's intentions were quite clear from the start: he wanted his group to be right up top and he spent a long time getting material together and working with the group until they were ready to record. "And, you know, he told us our first record would be gold — and it was!" recalled one of the girls. That first record was "Walkin' In The Rain With The One I Love", one of the most beautiful soul hits of 1972, and sure enough, it did make gold and the top spot for Love Unlimited.
What followed however seemed to throw Mr. White's plans quite a lot. As the girls explained, M.C.A. (who had released "Walkin") hadn't really done a great deal to get the first record off the ground, it had been more a question of the record being a natural'. Consequently, the company literally lost the group's debut album and the follow up, "Is It Really True" because, Glodean said, "they all went on vacation when the record was released!"
A further release, "Are You Sure did nothing to improve matters and so Barry, by this time on his way to 20th Century Records himself, began to get the girls' release from M.C.A. Records. Incidentally, their third release was the very song that the girls had taken to Barry right back at the beginning at the very first meeting! Commenting on the success of "Walkin' In The Rain", all three girls readily agreed )that they hadn't expected it to make it and felt that there had been stronger cuts on their first album. "But I guess it just goes to show that Barry knew what was best for us."
Barry certainly did seem to know what was best for the group, for after some hassle, he was able to get the girls away from M.C.A. and on to 20th Century, where he was beginning to make his big breakthrough. Love Unlimited were more than a little responsible for that too, as they explained: "Well, we d suggested to Barry that he ought to get himself together to record but he was reluctant to, because he'd sung in groups before and it had never really worked before. He tended to think on singers as scapegoats who always got the bad end of the stick so it wasn't that easy to convince him to record himself. But he did — and you know what happened then! Literally everything he's touched ever since has just gone gold!"
And included amongst that gold is Love Unlimited's first album for 20th Century which has spawned two hit singles for them, "Oh Love" and "It May Be Winter Outside", plus of course the incredible "Love's Theme", which was, it seems, supposed to have been a vocal track originally.
"Barry had written some words for the tune a long while back and we were going to use it as the Love Unlimited theme tune — hence the title. Anyway, he wasn't too happy with the lyrics, because he'd changed the tune a bit and when the time came for us to record, we were running up against a time schedule — we simply had to meet a deadline for the album. We were all ready to just sing the new words straight off but time just wouldn't permit it — so we said, leave the track as it is, an instrumental! And you know the rest!"
The first single "Oh Love" did fairly well for the trio but directly after the album was issued, it began to get mass airplay and so although they didn't have a big single, the group had a really big album. "Naturally we're very happy with all that's happening at the moment," Glodean said.
"So much of it is because of Barry's fantastic creativity. You know, he does everything at the piano — he doesn't write music because he doesn't read it — he just puts down the basic ideas for all the instruments (yes, everything!) from the melody he plays on the piano! The man is simply incredible, you know!"
The girls are naturally feeling pretty happy at the fact that they picked u p so many awards from the American trade magazines but they still feel that they shouldn't rest easy. "Barry told us he'd make us the top female group and he certainly has tried very hard to get us there. But we're still aware of all our competition — as far as we're concerned every female group is competition and we still have to work to stay where we are now."
Immediate plans call for the girls to work on a new album for which Mr. White has written some material already and they are looking forward to getting that together really soon. Their final comments were on the reception that they'd received in Europe: "We really didn't expect the fantastic kind of response we got — it made us feel so good. And, you know, we just can't wait to get back!"
With the obvious charm and talent that Glodean, Diane and Linda exude, it looks like Soul unlimited all the way!