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Some sultry songs to heat up those nippy nights

Whenever the winter weather gets too cold and too depressing, my wife and I haul out our well-worn videotape of the 1981 movie “Body Heat” to warm things up.

John Barry’s sultry film score, from the opening theme on, wastes no time in establishing the mood for this steamy film noir, set appropriately in steamy south Florida during a heat wave.

But you can’t keep watching one movie over and over 24 hours a day, so I spend a fair amount of time seeking other sultry songs that can help get us through our too-long, too-frequent, shiver-inducing winter nights.

One disclaimer: No two people will agree on which songs qualify as sultry — just ask my wife — so feel free to disagree with my choices or add favorites of your own in the Comment area below.

But here are some temperature-raising songs that work for me:

Sizzling climate
• J.J. Cale’s hypnotic, atmospheric “Magnolia”

• Jimmie Rodgers’ “The Long Hot Summer,” the theme from the like-titled, similarly sultry 1958 movie

• Ray Charles’ sweat-inducing “In the Heat of the Night,” the theme of the Oscar-winning 1967 film

• Sade’s tropical-tinged “Smooth Operator”

Sizzling love
• Peggy Lee’s classic “Fever”

• Linda Ronstadt’s intoxicating “You Go to My Head”

• Dusty Springfield introduced “The Look of Love,” in the 1967 James Bond spoof “Casino Royale,” but Diana Krall’s take manages to top the original version.

Fizzled love
• Glenn Frey’s “The One You Love,” smoky sax and all

• Jimmy Holiday’s intense “How Can I Forget”

• Brook Benton’s heartbreaking version of “A House Is Not a Home”

• Julie London’s tough “Cry Me A River”

Mood music
• Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto’s mesmerizing “The Girl From Ipanema”

• The Viscounts’ “Harlem Nocturne.” The song became the theme to Stacy Keach’s “Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer” TV series

• Neil Young’s haunting “Harvest Moon”

The best of the bunch
When it comes to sultry, nobody does it better than Lani Hall, the former Brasil '66 singer who, with husband Herb Alpert, heated up the Dakota in November with plenty of “simmer” and “sizzle,” according to a Star Tribune review. Here, she performs “Love Song” and a sexy “Sundown” (you’ll probably recognize the melody from “Muskrat Love,” but you’ll find a distinctly different mood — and words).

Enjoy — and stay warm (or hot).

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Comments (5)

A nicely written article.
Instead of "Smooth Operator", I'd recommend Sade's "Is it a Crime?"

Great article. Thanks for including Harvest Moon. That always makes me swoon.

Gene Pitney's "Town Without Pity." Forget the movie. The song is steeeeeeeamy.

For those of us with a more rock 'n' roll orientation:

"Cozy Ten Minutes" and "Around The Girl In 80 Ways" -- both by Big Audio Dynamite

"Lover's Rock" -- The Clash

"I Wanna Get in Your Pants" -- The Cramps (And really, almost any Cramps song...)

"I Wanna Sleep in Your Arms" and "Astral Plane" by The Modern Lovers

"Top of the World" -- The Shonen Knife cover, not the original by the Carpenters

Thank you.
For your consideration this weekend:
Tony Bennet: "What Are You Afraid of," (Art of Excellence album); Anita Morris: "A Letter from the Vatican" (Cast Album, Nine - hot Broadway kitsch); Akkiko: "Love Theme from Spartacus" (find it on YouTube). Pussycat Dolls: "Sway" (Shall We Dance sound track, U.S.A.)