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    Top 8 Romantic Records

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    Valentine’s Day may be a load of crap, but there’s no underestimating the power of the heart when it comes to music. So in honor of the universal muse, here are eight love-inducing albums that will make you weak in the knees. Be sure to let us know what other albums you think deserve the title of most romantic. (Did someone say Barry White?)

     

    The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds (1966)
    The luxurious sounds on this album alone are enough to make anyone fall in love with their stereo. But the genius of Pet Sounds is the way it captures the feeling of youthful longing. “God Only Knows” has got to be one of the best love songs of all time; it turns everybody to mush. Not to mention classics like “Don’t Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder),” “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” and “Sloop John B,” which are impossible not to love.

     

    The Beatles – “I Want to Hold Your Hand”/ "I Saw Her Standing There" single (1963)
    In my opinion, the Beatles are responsible for some of the greatest love songs ever written. And like the band, they matured from innocent pop (“Love Me Do,” “She Loves You,” “All My Loving,” “And I Love Her,” “Can’t Buy Me Love”) to deep, beautifully crafted love songs that reflected the real love John and Paul found in their own lives (“Something,” “In My Life”). While I love it all, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” remains my favorite Beatles love song for the fact that it doesn’t get too serious. It’s just a sweet song that captures that innocent feeling of budding love when you just want to be around someone all the time.

     

    Etta JamesAt Last! (1961)
    “At last, my love has come along / My lonely days are over / And life is like a song.” Few have so eloquently expressed that overwhelming sigh of relief that comes when love is found. And the pure emotion that the late, great Etta James brings to this, her signature tune, and the blues classics (“I Just Want to Make Love to You”) and jazz standards ("Stormy Weather" and "A Sunday Kind of Love") on her debut album will never fade.

     

    Whitney Houston Whitney Houston (1985)
    Even if the news of her death wasn’t so fresh, Whitney Houston would still be on this list. The emotion is so real in her skyscraping love ballads - from her truly joyful eponymous debut (which features the hits “How Will I Know,” “The Greatest Love of All,” “You Give Good Love,” and “Saving All My Love for You") to her show-stopping delivery of “I Will Always Love You” in the 1992 film The Bodyguard.

     

     

    Sade Diamond Life (1984)
    Forget diamonds - it's all about Diamond Life, Sade’s debut album. On tracks like “Smooth Operator” and “Your Love Is King,” Sade proves she is the queen of sensuality and the epitome of sultry elegance. And if you’re really in the mood, pick up 1992’s Love Deluxe as well for “No Ordinary Love.”

     

     

     

     

    Marvin Gaye Let’s Get It On (1973)
    File under Seduction. This landmark soul recording is widely considered one of the greatest albums of all time, as well as one of the most sexually charged. The follow-up to Marvin Gaye’s socially conscious What’s Going On (1971), Let’s Get It On presents a different side of Gaye in its funky grooves and suggestive overtones that is sure to leave you satisfied. Its steamy title track alone is some of the best mood music ever recorded! But this is more than just an album of slow-burning ecstasy and smooth soul; Gaye’s multi-tracked vocals and seductive funk sound greatly influenced later R&B artists.

     

    Al GreenGreatest Hits (1975)
    We can thank President Obama for the recent Al Green revival and the spike in sales of his classic love song “Let’s Stay Together.” But we have only Al Green to thank for some of the most romantic music of the last century. Setting the standard for smooth soul with his sermons of love, the great soul singer-turned-reverend recorded numerous swoon-worthy love ballads in the early ‘70s. This 1975 compilation is a classic in and of itself thanks to its flawless curation of greats like “Tired of Being Alone,” “I’m Still in Love with You,” “Here I Am (Come and Take Me),” “You Oughta Be with Me,” and of course “Let’s Stay Together.”

     

    The Righteous Brothers - Unchained Melody (1965)
    "Oh my love, my darling / I've hungered for your touch..." Does it get any better than that? There’s no doubt that “Unchained Melody” is an absolutely timeless love ballad and one of the greatest love songs of all time. (C’mon, we all remember that scene from Ghost.) Not only does the song feature the passionate, soul-drenched vocals of Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield but the phenomenal Wall of Sound production of Phil Spector. If you can’t track down the original “Hung on You” single where this doo-wop serenade first appeared as a B-side, it’s not too difficult to find The Righteous Brothers Greatest Hits (1967) or The History of the Righteous Brothers (1972) compilations on vinyl, which also feature classics like “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” and “(You’re My) Soul and Inspiration.”

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