Valentine's Day is Tuesday. Do you know where your romantic CDs are?
It's become a tradition for Sony's Legacy label to pull together a selection of CDs by various artists, each titled "Love Songs" for Valentine's Day, and this year is no different. The Legacy Love Songs cover John Denver, Heart, Dolly Parton, Phyllis Hyman, Regina Belle and Etta James. It's not exactly artists you readily identify as "love song" makers, unlike past series from Air Supply, Chicago, Phil Collins, Toto, Frank Sinatra and more.
While Heart sounds like it would be a good "love song" act, when you look closely at its catalog, there really aren't many tracks that sound perfect for fireside listening. And the big flaw of Heart Love Songs is that the band's best tracks for the theme are included here, not as the original studio versions, but as live cuts. Heart sounds shrill on the acoustic live version of "Alone," and also offers live versions of "These Dreams" and "Magic Man." Other tracks include a live take on "Unchained Melody," and studio versions of "Sweet Darlin'," "How Can I Refuse," "No Other Love" and "What About Love."
John Denver's Love Songs collection includes "Poems, Prayers and Promises," "Leaving on a Jet Plane" and "Annie's Song," along with a dozen other tracks.
The Phillis Hyman Love Songs CD includes soulful versions of "Be Careful (How You Treat My Love)," "I Don't Want to Lose You," and "Somewhere in My Lifetime."
The Dolly Parton collection offers duets with Kenny Rogers — "Islands in the Stream" and "Real Love," and the Etta James disc includes the jazz diva's takes on a number of classics, including "My Funny Valentine," "Body and Soul," "Night and Day" and her hit "At Last."
They didn't record "love songs" collections, but the pitch-perfect harmonies of Crosby, Stills and Nash have served as the background for amorous kisses for generations. Rhino Records has reissued the trio's first self-titled 1969 CD, featuring "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes," "Wooden Ships," and Guinnevere" along with a handful bonus tracks — demos recorded the same year that would later turn up on other albums, like "Teach Your Children."
The label has also re-issued the Crosby, Stills & Nash reunion album Daylight Again originally released a dozen years after the first CSN project. That disc spawned hits like "Wasted on the Way" and "Southern Cross," and this new edition features four bonus tracks from the period.
If you're an '80s synth-pop fan like I am, you might be lured by the artist list of this collection. It includes new remixes of key old tracks from The Cure, Yaz, INXS, Erasure, Howard Jones, New Order, Book of Love and more.
I was excited when I plugged it into my CD player, expecting refreshed versions of some of my favorites. My excitement quickly soured, however, when I realized many of the "remixes" amounted to someone deleting the original drum and bass rhythms of these songs and replacing them with dull, repetitive beats.
The Cure's "The Walk" suffers from a tedious new beat and the main keyboard hook of the song being simplified, while Erasure's "A Little Respect" is turned into a poorly realized house track.
The original rhythm track to New Order's "Bizarre Love Triangle" can't be topped, and The Crystal Method adds a drill-like sound to it that is ultimately annoying, not refreshing.
There are a couple tracks that are not murdered by the remixers; Book of Love's "Boy" is given a guitar augmentation that brings out a new feeling.
But overall, Future Retro doesn't do these classics any favors with its facelifts.