Please forgive me a bit of cheesecake, folks, as i celebrate Valentine’s Day, a bogus holiday that i learned the hard way (with a college girlfriend i considered too bohemian to care about such a hallmark inspired custom) not to ignore.
i guess today i am feeling something to lift the spirits after looking at all that east german cold-war art. so today i’m going to be building a list of great makeout records, and i hope my distinguished readers will jump in and contribute.
1) Miles Davis, “Kind of Blue”: this is probably the most celebrated, the most famous, and bestselling of jazz records. it may lead to a slightly abstract makeout session — this was the key recording of what’s called “modal” jazz and miles was of course the coolest of trumpeters — but it’s always worked for me. fans of this might look for dexter gordon’s “one flight up.”
2) Air, “Moon Safari”: a truly otherworldly record that surrounds the listener in a very mellow 70s-sci-fi-movie glow… one of the greatest-ever downtempo records and one that this french duo has never come close to topping.
3) “Coleman Hawkins Encounters Ben Webster”: This meeting of two of the finest swing-era tenor men is easily one of the 10 greatest jazz records ever. it’s also well suited for our purposes here: the first song is a barrelhouse blues that evokes a 1920s speakeasy, the rest of romantic, rhapsodic and gentle. the only thing that keeps it from being perfect is that it is a bit too short. so put it on “repeat.”
4) Mazzy Star, “Among My Swans”: perhaps a little heroin chic, but one of the sexiest bands of the 90s. blitzed-out white noise with great jaded female vocals. see also: joy zipper’s sublime second record.
5) “The Supreme Al Green”: okay, this one’s obvious, but soul doesnt get any sweeter than this. many ’70s al green records would do the trick, and marvin gaye’s “let’s get it on” would be a very close runner up.
6) Carla Bruni, “Someone Told Me”: this has a french title which i will never spell right. pretend you are president sarkozy (okay scratch that) with this debut record by the lovely and talented italian-born model… not sure she has the depth of rival chaunteuse keren ann (love her “not going anywhere” lp), but this one is plenty suited to the task.
7) Chopin “Nocturnes”: some of the first classical music i ever responded too — music doesnt get any “dreamier” than this. for a high-class makeout session. the first version of this i ever heard was by the portugese/brazilian pianist maria pires, but of course the classic recordings, by rubinstein, are insurmountable.
8) Cassandra Wilson, “Loverly”: this eclectic and sultry voiced singer became known in the 90s for unconventional jazz treatments of songs outside the jazz canon — neil young, robert johnson. a major boundary-pushing impulse. but her latest record, “loverly,” reminds me of how good she is with jazz standards like “lover come back to me,” “the very though of you,” and so on. i was just given this by my valentine and took it upon myself to beta-test it — let’s just say i’ll have good memories of this record for a long time.
And on the topic of Valentine’s Day, here is a fascinating Slate story about increasingly sex during the recession that gives us a new phrase: “Make love, not reservations.”
Photo credit: SuperStock