Love is the sort of thing that can be debated until the end of time. But it's Valentine's Day so let's give it a try: What are the perfect albums for the most romantic (and lovestruck) day of the year?
1. Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely
You can pick many a male crooner to deliver love songs but none of them did 'torch songs' better than ‘ol Blue Eyes. And the Valentine's Day pick for a Sinatra album would naturally be a platter full of torch songs: Frank Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely (1958, also known as Sings for Only the Lonely or simply Only the Lonely). Valentine's Day can be filled with songs of romance or unrequited love. The latter seems to work best here (culminating with "One for My Baby").
Note: The original mono album (Capitol Records, W 1053) of Frank Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely had all 12 tracks, while the stereo version (Capitol, SW1053) had only 10 tracks. Unfortunately, "It’s a Lonesome Old Town" and "Spring is Here" (two worthwhile tracks) are absent from the stereo version due to 'technical limitations' from a stereo album's side length at the time.
Highlights: "Only the Lonely," "Angel Eyes," "Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry" and "One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)"
2. Ella Fitzgerald
Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Song Book
Ella Fitzgerald’s golden voice tugs on a person's heart strings like no other, especially on her 1956 studio album Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Song Book. The album not only focuses on the songs of Cole Porter but is accompanied by a beautiful studio orchestra (conducted and arranged by Buddy Bregman). It's hard to beat that for Valentine's Day.
Billie Holiday certainly comes in a (very) close second when it comes to a female vocalist singing her heart out but Ella had the most overall power when on top of her game.
Highlights: "Let's Do It ," "All Of You," "From This Moment On," "What Is This Thing Called Love" and "So In Love"
3. Chet Baker
Listening to Chet Baker's 1965 album Baker's Holiday is much like witnessing Cupid shoot himself with his own arrows. There’s melancholy beauty from both the horn and voice of Baker as he delivers choice Billie Holiday tunes like a wounded victim of love. Powerfully sweet, and quite poignant, too.
Highlights: “That Ole Devil Called Love,” “When Your Lover Has Gone,” “These Foolish Things (Remind Me Of You)” and “There Is No Greater Love”
4. Miles Davis
Sure, this is a posthumous CD compilation (1999) from the king of jazz — and we could have picked the popular record, Kind of Blue — but the heart wants what it wants, once cupid pierces its heartstrings.
Really, it's a full-length romantic gem — the only person who would be annoyed by this pick would be unromantic... or a jazz traditionalist.
The tracks on Love Songs were recorded between 1957 and 1964.
Highlights: "I Fall In Love Too Easily,” “I Thought About You,” “Someday My Prince Will Come” and “My Funny Valentine”
5. Al Green
Let's Stay Together
Al Green's smooth and silky voice could make anyone swoon, and he reaches career highs on this 1972 full-length album, Let's Stay Together. The title track and Bee Gees' cover "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?" alone are enough to make this the perfect album for Valentine's Day. But give the rest of the album a listen for full effect.
Highlights: "Let's Stay Together," "La-La for You," "I've Never Found a Girl (Who Loves Me Like You Do)" and "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?"