Tue. Jun. 19, 2018

10 essential Valentine mellow jams Part 2

10 essential Valentine mellow jams Part 210 essential Valentine mellow jams Part 2… “What is this thing called love?”, used to sing Alexander O’Neal back in the early 90’s. I suppose each of us would have her/his elements of response. Which is arguably what makes both the mystery and the magic of this feeling. Such as these countless demonstrations one can find in numerous artforms. From litterature to cinema. Not to mention photography or music.

Therefore, and as always, a selection is per definition limited. Even though God knows how the matter has been on the lips of numerous artists. Meanwhile bringing many of us to dream, think, pray along with the circumstances.
As a result, many are those we couldn’t talk about here. Even though they would have definitely deserved a mention. Nevertheless, you should find thereafter a pretty much illustrative sample of highly emotional pieces of art where the quality predominates. Be it from the melody and the arrangements, the lyrics and/or the vocal performances. And most likely altogether as one.

Wishing you’ll enjoy the ride as much as we did, while putting it together for you. With your feedback, and a mention of your favorite song more than welcome. Meanwhile, we have some extra goodies for your listening pleasure in our Part 1 of the series.

Last but not least, let me address my deepest thoughts to my beautiful mermaid, who should recognize herself…

10 essential Valentine mellow jams Part 2 / Surface – Happy (Columbia)
Originally a songwriting team – they delivered material for Gwen Guthrie and Sister SledgeSurface went under their own account back in 1983. Releasing their debut-single – ‘Falling In Love’ – on Salsoul. Then soon after switching to Columbia. From their eponymous debut-album, the mellow ‘Happy’ most likely stands as their biggest classics ever. Displaying a rare sensibility in a unique style one could enjoy along with time. From the syncopated ‘I Missed’ to ‘Closer Than Friends’. Not to mention the exquisite ‘Give Her Your Love’ which we included in our 10 essential Love songs feature.
10 essential Valentine mellow jams Part 2 / Barry White – Girl It’s True, Yes I’ll Always Love You (20th Century Fox)
More than 40 years have gone since the release of this unique love statement. And I still feel tears comin’ when havin’ a listen to it. First because this gem and the album it’s taken from – the 1973 released ‘Stone Gon’ – are my favs of Barry White. But also and probably even more, because July 04, 2003 has been synonymous with the passing of a man who blessed me for many years with his friendship and attentions. This is to say what this song represents to me at this precise moment. When comin’ to celebrate Valentine’s Day with our beloved one…
10 essential Valentine mellow jams Part 2 / The Commodores – Three Times A Lady (Motown)
Just like Earth, Wind & Fire, The Commodores had few lives in their career. Turning from a Funk band into a more or less crooning one. With a then and a post-Lionel Richie period. Delivering some of the most beautiful ballads one may think of. From ‘Zoom’ to ‘Easy’. But also ‘Sail On’ and ‘Still’. Not to mention the evokative ‘Three Times A Lady’. With most of them along with producer James Anthony Carmichael. And the latter standing as the icing on the cake from their 1978 ‘Natural High’ album.
10 essential Valentine mellow jams Part 2 / Millie Jackson – (If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want To Be Right (Spring Records)
Against all odds… And no matter what, I’ll pay the price I’ll have to. Rather than regretting all my life to not have expressed the feelings I have for you. Here we go with the theme of this masterpiece which is probably one of the most vibrant statements ever. A song originally recorded by Luther Ingram which Millie Jackson made brilliantly made hers. Meanwhile introducing her unique style of raunchy rap one could also find 5 years after on the overlooked ‘What Went Wrong Last Night’. Bringing this gem to the next level. And eventually receiving two Grammy nomitations for her performance.
10 essential Valentine mellow jams Part 2 / Earth, Wind & Fire – Be Ever Wonderful (Columbia)
“Be ever wonderful, stay as you are…” As many words speakin’ for themselves. Seeing Earth, Wind & Fire excelling once again. Meanwhile displaying another facet – the downtempo territory – of their impressive repertoire. From ‘Devotion’ and ‘Can’t Hide Love’, although in a more syncopated vein. To smoother vibes such as the bittersweet ‘After The Love Has Gone’. Strangely enough, the outstanding ‘Be Ever Wonderful’, from their 1977 ‘All’n All’ album, never saw the light as a single. Most likely overlooked in an albulm which spanned the classics ‘I’ll Write A Song For You’, ‘Serpentine Fire’ and, even more, the ‘Fantasy’ smash hit…
10 essential Valentine mellow jams Part 2 / The Isley Brothers – Sensuality (Pt. 1 & 2) (T-Neck)
The Isley Brothers didn’t not only manage to establish themselves as the most flamboyant band in the history of Funk. They also delivered some of the most beautiful ballads one could think of. Meanwhile blending these various atmospheres starting from the recording of their 1975 ‘The Heat Is On’ album. Featuring the groovy ‘Fight The Power’ and ‘Hope You Feel Better Love’ on one side. Then ‘For The Love Of You’ and ‘Sensuality’ on the other. The latter standing in an impressive series of downtempo materpieces. From ‘Voyage To Atlantis’ to ‘You’re The Key To My Heart’ and ‘How Lucky I Am’. Not to mention ‘Don’t Say Goodnight (It’s Time For Love)’ to name but a few…
10 essential Valentine mellow jams Part 2 / Howard Hewett – This Love Is Forever (Expansion Records)
You, familiar with these shores, should have realized as to how Howard Hewett stands among our favorite artists. With thanks to a voice like no other, but also his undeniable ability to fully embody the themes he expresses. Made famous as a member of Shalamar but also responsible for countless 1st League performances. Along with Stanley Clarke on ‘Heaven Sent You’ and ‘Fantasy Love’. But also under his own banner. Most likely reachin’ one of his definitive peaks on the 1994 released ‘It’s Time’ album. With outstanding jewels such as ‘Crystal Clear’ and ‘This Love Is Forever’. This in addition to ‘Call His Name’, meanwhile showing his ability to play with Gospel vibes…
10 essential Valentine mellow jams Part 2 / Noel Gourdin – One Love
Despite 3 album releases to his credit, Boston, MA native Noel Gourdin never managed to confirm the sensation he engendered back in 2008. This with the release of ‘The River’ which went #1 in the U.S. R&B charts. A cut which appeared on his ‘After My Time’ debut-album on Epic with the rest of its outstanding content totally overlooked. With the first reason being that the label simply passed on it. From ‘Open’ to ‘Better Man’, ‘Too Late’ and other ‘Reach’. Not to mention the smoothly syncopated ‘One Love’ which fully displayed the talent of one of the most underrated singers of the Neo-Soul scene. Missed this album? Check it out and you’ll understand where we’re comin’ from…
10 essential Valentine mellow jams Part 2 / Lathun featuring India Arie – When Love Came In (Quentin Harris ‘Epod’ Harris Mix (Fall Out Records)
‘When Love Came’ in first appeared first appeared back in 2002. This as a part of Lathun (Grady)’s ‘Fortunate’ album which is is only one to date (on Motown). There, he would come to share the duties with India Arie. Nevertheless leavin’ the label with O reaction to release it as a single. Ironically unofficial label Fall Out Records issued it as a limited 12″. With Quentin Harris left in charge of the remixing duties. Meanwhile delivering one of his best reworks ever and getting the singers’performance into another dimension.
10 essential Valentine mellow jams Part 2 / Ray Hayden & Mica Paris – One On One (Opaz Records)
Like many of you, I suppose, the first piece of music comin’ to mind when thinkin’ of Ray Hayden would be the production work he did on Martine Girault‘s ‘The Revival’ back in 1992. Although the man did way more than that. Crafting gems such as ‘Beware’ for Vivienne McKone. But also producing Ronny Jordan‘s second album, ‘The Quiet Revolution’ (featuring the blowing ‘In Full Swing’). Then Swing Out Sister‘s 1994 ‘The Living Return’ which features the one of a kind ‘Making The Right Move’. Meanwhile, he would showcase his undeniable vocal abilities while sharing the duties with Mica Paris. With the twosome reachin’ a rare level of emotional chemistry…

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