A 1999 compilation in Rhino's Heart Beats series. I gotta say that Rhino knocks it out of the park with this one and I'm not writing that simply because this CD includes the epic album version of THE BEST SLOW JAM OF ALL TIME!
Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: Did not chart
- Here and Now - Luther Vandross (#6 pop, #3 AC, 1990): Vandross being Vandross. What a voice.
- Tonight, I Celebrate My Love - Peabo Bryson & Roberta Flack (#16 pop, #4 AC, 1983): A fantastic duet (yes, I can sing both parts if you need it). As a 16 year old knucklehead, I was hardly interested in "celebrating love" with a girl (😈), but I liked the song anyway because it meant an opportunity to slow dance.
- You're The Inspiration - Chicago (#3 pop, #1 AC, 1985): A lot of people bad mouth David Foster-era Chicago, but I love it. Heck, give me 16 and 17 any day.
- More Than Words - Extreme (#1 pop, #2 AC, 1991): Reminds me of my first year teaching at the high school from which I graduated 6 years prior. Another duet where I can sing both parts and better than these guys, who get a little shouty for a ballad. (If shouty isn't a word, it should be.)
- Always And Forever - Heatwave (#18 pop, #33 AC, 1978): Simply put, this is THE BEST SLOW JAM OF ALL TIME. And I don't want to hear anyone else sing it but Johnnie Wilder. Also, I'm proud of 12 year old me for recognizing the greatness of this tune from the get-go.
- Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me - Gladys Knight & The Pips (#3 pop, #10 AC, 1974): The character of Rob from High Fidelity by Nick Hornby put it best when, speaking of his own memorial service, he said "I've always had this fantasy that someone beautiful and tearful will insist on 'You're the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me' by Gladys Knight, but I can't imagine who that beautiful, tearful person will be." And now I have the same fantasy. But we're here to talk about weddings, not funerals. Suffice to say that this is Gladys at her emotional best and it don't get much better than that.
- Theme from Ice Castles (Through the Eyes of Love) - Melissa Manchester (#76 pop, #13 AC, 1979): Always a bit schmaltzy for my tastes, this song was completely ruined for me by the hilarious 1999 mockumentary film Drop Dead Gorgeous (which, if you haven't seen, do so immediately).
- If - Bread (#4 pop, #1 AC, 1971): I like this ballad more every time I hear it; David Gates could write a helluva ballad. Today's discussion prompt: was there a soft rock genre before the release of this hit? Debate amongst yourselves.
- Could I Have This Dance - Anne Murray (#33 pop, #3 AC, 1980): I didn't mind an occasional crossover hit every now and then on the radio, but this steel-guitar laden waltz was never a favorite. But, dadgummit, I heard it enough times to know all the words and harmonies.
- You Are My Lady - Freddie Jackson (#12 pop, #3 AC, 1985): That's more like it. A simple electric piano intro leads to a mid-tempo love tune that would be perfect for groom karaoke at the reception. (Is "groom karaoke" at the reception a thing? If not, why not?)
- I Just Wanna Stop - Gino Vannelli (#4 pop, #4 AC, 1978): This one is classic with the requisite Fender Rhodes and an Ernie Watts sax solo. To my young mind, this song was the ultimate in sophistication. I would have purchased the 45 single of this one back in '78, but the program director of my fave AM station must have liked it, too because it seems like it was played hourly that winter. Still, I never got tired of it and still find it immediately relaxing.
- Through the Fire - Chaka Khan (#60 pop, #16 AC, 1985): More goodness from the pen of David Foster. When I used my magnifying glass to consult my Whitburn books, I was surprised at the low chart positions. Would it have scored higher if Peter Cetera had sung it?
- Always - Atlantic Starr (#1 pop, #1 AC, 1987): I'm not wild about this song and don't think the vocal performances are strong, but it reminds me of the summer of 1987 when, at age 21, I was working with the church youth group, allegedly "mentoring" youth group members 3 or 4 years my junior. Nonetheless, the girls in that group loved this thing and played it relentlessly.
- Two Less Lonely People in the World - Air Supply (#38 pop, #4 AC, 1982): Not the kind of music I was listening to in 1982, but it's a typical Air Supply soft rock ballad. I like it, but it's an odd sentiment for a wedding - "Well, we might not really love each other, but at least we're not lonely! Much." Has anyone ever done a parody version titled "Two Less Ugly People in the World" which would serve as a cautionary tale about beer goggles? (I just re-read that last part and it sounds like I'm bitter and jaded about marriage, which couldn't be further from the truth. I was married in 1989 and it's the best thing that's ever happened to me. Just wanted to make that clear.)
- I'll Always Love You - Taylor Dayne (#3 pop, #2 AC, 1988): Sing it, girl! Maybe the best ballad of 1988. Sax solo by Richie Cannata, whose main gig was with Billy Joel's band. I dig the whole song, but the last thirty seconds of the thing just make it for me. Sublime.
- At Last - Etta James (#47 pop, 1961) Sing it, girl! This vocal showcase is a fantastic way to end this compilation.
Previously revisited for the blog:
Love Scene: Romantic Movie Music (1999)