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Vinyl Valentines: 20 Ways to Play Your Heart Out on Feb. 14th and Beyond!

Posted by Kells, February 13, 2019 10:33pm | Post a Comment
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What's better than a box of chocolates, a dozen long stem roses, and greeting card featuring an anthropomorphic phonograph declaring "for the record" that you're "in the groove, Valentine"? Records, baby, records! This Valentine's Day, whether you're looking for ways to clue-in your crush, let your lover know you love 'em, or simply blot out any and all the notions of the day, consider giving the gift of a vinyl valentine to your loved ones or, better yet, to yourself. Short on ideas on where to begin, and can't get your head past novelty heart-shaped singles or 2003's The Love Below ("Every day is the 14th!")? Dig these titles for a start, then follow your heart! And remember, if you can't find it in our web store, make a date of it and come in to see what calls to you and your honey from our selves IRL. Or give us a call—if we have it in stock, we can get it out to you, valentine, xoxo.

eddie holman I love you vinyl valentines soul r&b ballads
Eddie Holman - I Love You 

This is the record that first came to my mind when pondering potential vinyl valentines. Every song a love song, every bit of it sounding like it must have been an instant classic soul sensation when it arrived on the scene. From the swaying horn-laden arrangements tinged with groovy guitar filigree to Eddie "hit those notes" Holman's impressive vocal range grounded in gentlemanly sentiments, this is just the sort of record that lonely girls and starry-eyed teen dreamers the world 'round surely live for. With its timeless sound and lovesick delivery, it just might not get any better than this. Whether you're enjoying a night in with the one you love or kickin' it all on your lonesome this Valentine's Day, this'll do you. Turn the lights down low and spin, flip, repeat...


serge gainsbourg
Serge Gainsbourg - Histoire de Melody Nelson

Cinematic and kinda dirty-sounding, this record lays down a slow-stroking, clothes-losing mooood almost as soon as it begins to simmer. Creeping in with sleazy bass notes, Gainsbourg's voice, low and secretive but with absolutely nothing to hide, speaks in French over the opening track describing a night drive in his vintage Rolls Royce, rhapsodizing it's "silver Venus on the radiator" at length until he nearly runs over a young natural redhead on her bike—the eponymous Melody (voiced by Jane Birkin). This dubious meet-cute kicks off a Lolita-inspired love affair/seduction concept chronicled in song, with Gainsbourg's poetic blurred lines intersecting iconically with composer Jean-Claude Vannier's sweeping choral and orchestral arrangements. Ooh la la!





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Dolly Parton - Dolly: The Seeker – We Used To

Whenever in doubt, reach for Dolly. After all, she will always love you! While any number of Dolly's songs are capable of filling hearts with love, or wringing out the heartache as the case may be come Valentine's Day, this somewhat elusive 1975 collection of "Dolly's favorite love songs" she's written herself is worth searching for, and not just because it's partially titled The Seeker. Actually, the other song checked in the title is the track in my opinion because, not only is it a beaut of a bummer ballad, it also flaunts a melody that sounds almost exactly like Led Zeppelin's infamous "Stairway to Heaven" riff. While Dolly eventually cut a proper "Stairway" cover, and Robert Plant has since joked that the band wrote their 1971 epic for her, I hope them Zepp boys count themselves truly blessed by Dolly's loving embrace.
 



When in deeper in doubt and Dolly just won't do (not that I can imagine why), try the brothers Isley:
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On Valentine's Day, or any damn day of the year, the Isley Brothers have got you covered (quite literally with the latter two suggestions here). Whether you go for their 1966 classic This Old Heart of Mine filled with many a love-themed oldies hit single, or their 1971 album Givin' It Back featuring covers of songs focused largely on love (like a ten-plus minute acoustic version of Bob Dylan's "Lay Lady Lay" and a bright n' groovy take on Stephen Stills' "Love the One You're With"), or the ultimately optimized for Valentine's Day A-side of their 1983 slow-jammin' Between the Sheets, you really can't go wrong. It's all good!


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Reiko Ike - You, Baby (Kokotsu no Sekai)

This 1971 album of burning torch songs from Japanese "Pink" film actress Reiko Ike is surely the most "adult" inclusion in this list. Ten seconds into the opening cut and the vibe is hot, the music is a steamy mix of lounge instrumentations rising and falling suggestively, and Ike's vocals, breathless and moaning, are nothing short of pornographic as she details with desperate sighs how severely she cannot help herself. By the time the horns and flute kick in she sounds like she's just about to climax, so, like, crank it up as loud as you want! Just about every song is soaked with copious cuíca timbres and layers of sexy vocals, from spoken word passages pocked with orgasmic grunts, to backing vocals do-do-doing a second melody beneath Ike singing about things like how wet everything is. This record pairs well with towels. 


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Jackie Gleason Presents Music For Lovers Only

Fun fact: this little wonder, circa 1952, still holds the record for the longest stint on the Billboard Top Ten Charts, holding it down for 153 weeks! It also ushered in a whole new genre of "mood music"—instrumentals for "making whoopie" and such. Perhaps a more notable fun fact is that Jackie Gleason could not read or write music, and that all the original music included on this and all his other bestselling jazzy instrumental records were conceived as melodies in his head that were later transcribed into music? Hmm... Regardless of what he brought to the table, band, or orchestra, this record remains a charming and effective artifact of bygone romantic strategies, and Bobby Hackett's sublime trumpetry. 



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Fabio - Fabio After Dark 

A rare gem of spoken word and smooth R&B grooves circa 1993, this prize bargain bin find features the one and only Fabio Lanzoni offering romantic advice (like sharing his "recipe for a perfect evening for two lovers") and singing(!) his own original slow jam "When Somebody Loves Somebody". Sure, you could just build your own playlist suggested by the other songs that flesh out this special blend (like Billy Ocean's "Suddenly", Kenny G's "Songbird" instrumental, and Barry White's "I Like You, You Like Me"), but then you wouldn't get the benefit of Fabio's encouragement where it counts. Keep your eyes peeled for this odd bauble when combing clearance bins and, if you're lucky, you too can revel in the potency of this obscurity while making love like Fabio! CD and tape only :(


blondie heart fo glass numero group 12" single disco deep
Blondie - Heart of Glass 

Numero Group recently reissued this single as a six track exploration of the hit's history and genesis featuring distinct versions of the song and it's demos remastered from analogue tapes. Housed in a de rigeur 12" die-cut sleeve stylishly sporting a disco ball design, this is a chic alternative to the usual cherry red heart-shaped novelty singles freshly dusted for Valentine's Day sales. But what make it a vinyl valentine? Well: "Once I had a love and it was a gas/ Soon turned out had a heart of glass/ Seemed like the real thing only to find/ Mucho mistrust, love's gone behind. In between 'what I find is pleasing' and 'I'm feeling fine' Love is so confusing There's no peace of mind..."




joe tossini and friends lady of mine weird synth lounge singer songwriter vinyl valentines
Joe Tossini and Friends - Lady of Mine

I learned about this endearing slab of sincere musical expression when Jessica Pratt mentioned it's upcoming reissue in an IG story (p.s. she's got a crucial new record out that would make a fab vinyl valentine, and she's featured in a new What's In My Bag video if you're curious about what she's digging these days). Slated for a Valentine's 2019 release via Efficient Space, this 1989 self-made debut from Italian-American Joe Tossini is a charming lounge-synth oddity born of necessity when he took to songwriting as therapy to keep depression in check after weathering tragic life events. Recorded in an Atlantic City basement, the sparse drum machine and Casiotone arrangements provide ample space for Tossini (and friends) to make pure magic for the ages.

palmer rockey style trunk records vinyl valentines

Palmer Rockey - Rockey's Style

Getting into Joe Tossini brought to mind another Italian-American outsider lounge lizard, Palmer Rockey, and the somewhat risky yet totally relevant vinyl valentine appeal of his "movie album" Rockey's Style. I say risky because Rockey's record has a darker vibe and overall stranger sound, but it too is mostly comprised of original and re-purposed love songs, or would-be love songs depending on your interpretation of curious tracks like the foreboding "Scarlet Warning 666", the quasi-exotica "Scarlet Moves". All "Scarlets" aside (yes, there are more), the mystery of this recording has been all but fully unraveled by Jonny Trunk with the Trunk records reissue a few years back, so get into these "feelings of love, yeah, feelings of love" babe. 


sade love deluxe soul smooth lovers mermaid vinyl valentine valentines day
Sade - Love Deluxe

C'mon, it's Sade. What else do you need to know?

It's timeless, enduring, and so, so smooth.

Like the aural equivalent of a rejuvenating candle-lit bath or honey dissolving into tea. A long slow dance.

This is no ordinary love.

No ordinary love. 




studio one lovers reggae compilation soul disco various artists covers vinyl valentine valentines day
Various Artists - Studio One Lovers

Soul Jazz reggae comps generally rule, and this bright pink collection of sweet, soulful reggae love songs is tops come Valentine's Day—it even kind of looks a little like a valentine. Featuring covers like The Mad Lads' take on Curtis Mayfield's "Ten To One" and Doreen Schaeffer's groovy version of Boz Scaggs' "We're All Alone", as well as original tracks from heavy hitting reggae legends like Delroy Wilson, Horace Andy, Alton Ellis, and Bob Marley and The Wailers, the charming harmonies and sultry melodies on parade here, from "Jamaica's finest label"—Studio One, is a veritable love fest of Lovers fit for a steamy night in. 



lovage vinyl valentine Nathaniel Merriweather Presents... Lovage: Music to Make Love to Your Old Lady By mike patton jennifer charles

LovageNathaniel Merriweather Presents... Lovage: Music to Make Love to Your Old Lady By

A concept album that is part homage (the cover art is a riff on Serge Gainsbourg's second record), part hodgepodge genre satire (from spoken word/comedy and easy listening to lounge and library music), and all downtempo/trip hop experiment, Lovage is Dan the Automator, Mike Patton, and Jennifer Charles inviting you to taste the difference between your grandparent's dusty mood music collection and their sensual sound seduction à la 2001. Don't let mouldering mainstream reviews of joint this fool you; anyone criticizing these cheeky arrangements for being a collection of songs that are too similar given the levels of talent collaborating on the record should try making out to it. Stroking is the antidote...




Speaking of make out records...

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The Cure
- Disintegration

Shout out to anyone who has ever put themselves through the loving trouble of making a mix tape for their crush back when the best way to convey how you truly felt inside was a two-sided sequence of self-selected love songs. The Cure has always been a reliable source for working through the awkward and precious teenage emotions of yore, and Disintegration in particular often pulled double duty as font for mix tape fodder and a practically perfect make out soundtrack for freaks and geeks of the X generation. The only other Gen Xer record that might rival Disintegration's make out sesh readiness is Portishead's 1994 debut Dummy, but don't take my word for it, find out for yourself! 



grace jones island life valentine's day vinyl love is the drug pull up to the bumper
Grace Jones - Island Life

This compilation of Grace Jones hits spanning the first nine years of her career makes for a good gift anytime, even if the recipient already has a copy—it's just that essential and gift-able. What's more, it is valentine-versatile as well as it is suitable for both friends and lovers, even if the receiver has recently been unlucky in love or has zero clue as to how you really feel about them. With it's upbeat, disco rhythms and sizzling island vibes tempered by Jones' chic savoir faire, the tracks collected here are as ageless as Jones herself seems to be, and her infectiously energetic versions of songs like Roxy Music's "Love is the Drug" and Edith Piaf's "La Vie en Rose" further stoke the love vibe terrifically whether your heart is in it or over it.





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Pizzicato Five - [any record you can get your hands on]

I'm not recommending any specific title because I feel any of their records would generally make for a good valentine. Why? All their songs are about romance (from love at first sight to lost love), dating (from getting ready to go out to hoping your date shows up), self-love (from retail therapy to nightclubbing), and...Tokyo (even those tracks play like love songs to the the city). Over the course of about 20 years, peaking in the 1990s, Pizzicato Five have built a vast discography of cute, catchy pop tunes done up in a dizzying array of lounge-y mid-century samples framed by runway-ready Euro House grooves—who cares if all the lyrics are in Japanese? Get hip! Here's an uplifting song about a break-up titled "Triste" (that's French for "sad"). 


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Ralfi Pagan - With Love

"You know how much I love you, don't you mami..."

Gotta wrap up this post with another sure thing, something as good as the record that kicked it off, a full album of sweet 'n slow panty-droppin' lowrider serenades from another "hit those notes"-calibre  crooner, Ralfi Pagan. Like Eddie Holman's I Love You, Pagan's 1971 album With Love gives love back to front, through and through. Beginning with a sensual cover of Bread's "Make It With You" followed by track after track of sultry Latin soul breaking out with a groovy wild hair here only to settle back into another sensitive love theme there, suggesting quite naturally this record is perhaps best explored via slow dance in good company.

Happy Valentine's, mis amores! 
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Relevant Tags

Palmer Rockey (1), Joe Tossini (1), Dolly Parton (20), Eddie Holman (1), Ralfi Pagan (3), Fabio (3), Isley Brothers (7), The Cure (44), Pizzicato Five (2), Grace Jones (12), Sade (9), Lovage (1), Blondie (8), Serge Gainsbourg (19), Jackie Gleason (8), Vinyl (197), Valentines Day (3), Reiko Ike (1), Blondie (8)