Thursday, February 12, 2009

Great Makeout Records and Happy Valentine's Day


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.

Anybody?

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 

17 comments:

Anne O'Neill said...

I'd like to get back to a much older subject - your (screen?)play depicting the classic argument between the Stalinists and the Trotskyists in teh form of the notorious slander suit, Lillian Hellman v. Mary MCarthy.

Scott Timberg said...

sounds like a perfect valentine's day performance!

Milton said...

I know that this admission could somehow lead to my incarceration, but I think of the Strauss Four Last Songs as make-out music ...

Cuyahogabend said...

How 'bout...

- Bryan Ferry / Roxy Music: Street Life

- Tom Waits: Closing Time

- With you on Ben Webster, but how about something a little bari? Gerry Mulligan & Chet Baker on Pacific? Hamiett Bluiett's Tribute to the King Cole Trio?

- Aruturo Delmoni: Songs My Mother Taught Me

- Cocteau Twins: Heaven or Las Vegas

- Pure Ella (Decca-era Ella, just her and Ellis Larkins on piano)

Scott Timberg said...

kudos to my distinguished correspondents:

that strauss is awesome -- romanticism itself.

have recently been digging mulligan with paul desmond.

and while it's far from my favorite roxy, "avalon" is on nearly everyone's makeout discs list, for good reason.

dskinner said...

All juicy selections, but allow me to add a few more.

Stanley Turrentine's "Blue Hour". Undoubtedly one of the smoothest tenors ever with the great Gene Harris on piano. Sexy stuff.

Spiritualized "Pure Phase". If you don't fall asleep first, it's a must. A real opiated aphrodisiac.

"Dark Side of the Moon"-for the lingering effects of those junior high school sessions. Anna just chimed in her protest on that one and suggested Lil Kim instead. Oh well.

I can see a long list starting to build in my head so I'll bail out now before I overheat.

Scott Timberg said...

wow, dark side of the moon -- you are a sick man!

how do you make out to the cash register in "money"? i've never found quite the right girl for that one!

Tina said...

I prefer the Great American Song book:

"Someone to watch over me"

"My funny valentine."

"The man I love."

Maybe a little Coldplay mixed in.

Call me an old fashioned modern girl...

Scott Timberg said...

those are all classics, of course -- i could do without the coldplay.

the miles "my funny valentine" is of course beautiful, and the billie holiday/lester young "the man i love" something i've played a lot recently.

those classic american songs never go out of style.

Tina said...

I wasn't sure about coldplay until i heard "fix you"...such a haunting, beautiful song...not valentine material, tho...

Milton said...

More standards:

Weill - "Speak Low"

Gershwin - "They can't take that away from me" (with Ira's great volta: "the way you hold your knife / the way you changed my life")

and The Great American Art Song (tada!) ...

Kern/Hamerstein - "All The Things You Are"

Scott Timberg said...

"All the things you are" may be the single best of the american songbook... i say that not for the lyrics or the melody even, but for the great changes it's offered jazz players.

another great one -- charlie parker doing "embraceable you."

Scott Timberg said...

and how could i forget anything by van morrison? for a certain kind of moody, introspective, candles-after-dark girl, astral weeks would be perfect -- for a more mainstream/optimistic type, moondance is a good bet. tho some of it may be too uptempo for our purposes here.
if someone comes up with the perfect van mix, pls share it with my readers.

Nicole said...

i just came across this after reading Scott's LAT story on John Updike. Here's a related story to makeout music: http://guttersnipemedia.wordpress.com/2009/02/13/lets-get-it-on-a-guide-to-hump-music/

Scott Timberg said...

that's a great piece on guttersnipe -- significantly raunchier than mine...

how could i have forgotten my bloody valentine's "loveless" -- one of my favorite all time records! i'm not sure i've ever known a woman who was eager to be seduced to the shimmer of its overtoned guitars... okay, one -- but that was a long time ago and i think i missed my chance.

Eric J. Lawrence said...

I had a college girlfriend who liked to get it on to "Loveless." Sort of goes against the grain of the album title I suppose, but it worked for her.

Scott Timberg said...

lucky you -- making love to "loveless".... a weirdly erotic record... i could never get serious about a girl who didnt at least like MBV, i dont think...