Love Songs for Valentine's Day

I said last week that I’d feature more new releases this week.  Then I realized (duh) that V-Day is this coming Sunday. Hence these 15 songs, one hour’s worth, are my Valentine’s Day offering this year. Former Rhythm Planet V-Day shows included codependency themes, the dark side of love. This year the playlist is unabashedly romantic and up.

We begin with a doo wop classic from the 1950s by the flamingos, always one of my favorites.  We segue into Nina Simone’s version of “Exactly Like You”, followed by the effervescent Bob Marley classic, “Is this Love”.

Fado singer Cristina Branco is next, singing a love song written by the Brazilian Shakespeare, Chico Buarque. Early Frank Sinatra follows, a love song from his early Columbia years. Then another famous Italian, tenor Luciano Pavarotti, with his stirring version of Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma”.

Next it’s a 1931 recording of a heavy-breathing love song from Tahiti, 1931, selected by Robert Crumb from an old 78 rpm recording and part of his wonderful collection Hot Women: Women Singer from the Torrid Regions. It’s the very last cut on the wonderful Crumb CD, which I highly recommend not only for the great vintage 78 rpm tracks but for Crumb’s illustrations of the musicians, something he is very, very good at.

Then let’s check out the original version of the classic “Je t’Aime Moi Non Plus” by Brigitte Bardot and Serge Gainsbourg.  This song was banned for obscenity when first released in 1967, and not released until almost 20 years later, in 1986.  Meanwhile Gainsbourg wound up recording the song with his partner Jane Birkin, which I think is tamer than the original. If you speak French, you’ll know just how risqué the original is.  They’re muttering some things you’d only hear in an x-rated film!

The great, soulful baritone of Barry White is next, followed by a song originally written for the last work of Brazilian composer Heitor Villa Lobos, “Melodia Sentimental” (Love Song), here beautifully rendered by Zizi Possi, one of my favorite Brazilian divas.

The late Mark Murphy comes next, with a beautiful version of Kurt Weill / Ira Gershwin song “My Ship”.  Recorded in Europe in 1966, it features Francy Boland at the piano.

The final quartet of love songs include Spain’s Nilda Fernandez, a song from Tim Hardin’s 1966 Verve Forecast debut, a Jacques Brel classic, and the great duet album of John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman.

Love and romance is universal, and these songs I hope offer up an eclectic mix of some great ones.  I hope you enjoy them with your valentine.

Rhythm Planet Playlist for 2/12/16

  1. The Flamingos / “I Only Have Eyes For You” / The Doo Wop Box / Rhino
  2. Nina Simone / “Exactly Like You” / Amazing Nina Simone / Nina Simone at Town Hall / Collectibles
  3. Bob Marley / “Is This Love” / Legend / Tuff Gong/Island Records
  4. Cristina Branco / “My Love” / Sensus / Decca
  5. Frank Sinatra / “We Kiss In A Shadow” / Love Songs / Columbia
  6. Luciano Pavarotti / “Nessun Dorma (Turandot)” / Ti Amo – Puccini’s Greatest Love Songs / Decca
  7. Various Artists / “Chant d’Amour” / Hot Women: Women Singers from the Torrid Regions of the World / Kein & Aber
  8. Brigitte Bardot / “Je T’Aime Moi Non Plus” (with Serge Gainsbourg) / Best Of Bardot / Decca International
  9. Barry White / “I’m Gonna Love You Just A Little More Baby” / Barry White’s Greatest Hits/ Casablanca/Polygram
  10. Zizi Possi / “Melodia Sentimental” / Mais Simples / Universal/Polygram
  11. Mark Murphy / “My Ship” / Midnight Mood / MPS
  12. Nilda Fernandez / “Mon Amour” / 500 Anos / Polygram
  13. Tim Hardin / “Misty Roses” The Best Of Tim Hardin / Polydor/Universal
  14. Jacques Brel / “La Chanson Des Vieux Amants” / 15 Ans D’Amour / Decca
  15. John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman / “My One And Only Love” / John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman / Impulse!

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Tom Schnabel