People like to round the edges of sultry slow jams. That's not to say that, as a culture, we don't have soul. We live in a moment where Usher is a household jam, but try mentioning LaVern Baker or Betty Everett and you can expect to see some raised eyebrows and blank stares. LA-based musician (and occasional soul DJ) Nick Waterhouse hoards more old-school R&B 45s than Jamie xx, so he's got a refined grasp on baby making music. We asked Waterhouse to break it down for us with a refined playlist of his sultriest slow jams, tailor-made to guide you from the initial eye contact to the post-coital smoke.
1. YOUNG JESSE - "BROWN EYES (COME ON HOME)"
"Brown Eyes" gets at the feeling I love about these records: A sublimated desire that's slightly restrained, but visceral. It's a good thematic opener to the mix, about this guy who's willing to have an open relationship. It's pure LA to me but with a dark southern feel. The moaning Young Jesse's doing and the counterpoint of the rhythm isn't blues -- all of these have elements of shit you'd hear in strip clubs, like tinkling pianos and raunchy sax. "Brown Eyes" is the soundtrack to searching heavily, blood-pumping and desire-laden.
2. BETTY EVERETT - "PLEASE LOVE ME"
Having a female voice singing this almost forceful tune, begging for this man, is pure lust. It's such a tough tune with a sadomasochistic vibe. A lot of the French poets talked about the little death and divine suffering -- that's what the tease is for a lot of these records. "Please Love Me" has a woozy feel to it. The horns are swaying and the back beat is there, this one gets your blood pumping more.
3. BYRDIE GREEN - "TREMBLIN'"
I remember I got into a minor scuffle with a traveling Belgian DJ who wanted this same record at the shop I was at. We got in an argument and I wasn't gonna give it up. It has this echoey male chorus, heavy on the organ that makes it feel kind of churchy and spooky. "Tremblin" hits on the feeling of being so attracted to someone it frightens you. Just being close to her man, she's shaking so hard. I think we can all relate to that. And at this point in the mix, you hope the lucky lady's feeling the same way.
4. ANDRE WILLIAMS - "MOZELLE"
Such a dirty, gritty, voodoo tune with jungle drums. Not over the edge though, it's that slow grind, 4 am feel after you've been at the club for a while. When you hear the heavily reverbed, tom tom beat and you think, this girl's a total knockout.
5. THE COASTERS - "DOWN IN MEXICO"
You can see the woman dancing in front of you listening to this. It exemplifies the sight of watching a girl's hips move. People know the Tarantino use of this one from Death Proof -- he used the '70s version though, you gotta do the original one from '54.
6. PAGE BOYS - "BARRACUDA"
A sax-driven, total stripper song. You need to have nipple tassels on to listen to this song, it's so animalistic. At this point in the mix, this song is a pot-boiler that amplifies the tension. Better to have a tease than the reveal. Like, I'd rather see lingerie than nothing.
Ike and Tina Turner.
7. IKE & TINA TURNER - "I IDOLIZE YOU"
Ike wrote this for Tina to sing and just drips with pheromones. It takes on even darker sadomasochistic tones -- there were a lot of things that went behind closed doors but this one just got opened back then. They don't even bother with innuendo halfway through, it mutates into "I'd love to scream your name." There's something really erotic about male and female voices. How they blend together and fall apart, it's this ancient urge. There's this feeling like, will they or won't they? It's so spare but such a deep groove, an all-time favorite.
8. JOE BATAAN - "GYPSY WOMAN"
"Gypsy Woman" is a cover of a Spanish Harlem boogaloo artist. It's one of these slow frenzy songs with a bohemian vibe to it. Such a sex jam, you can smell the sweat. But not in a bad way, it's at the point where you want it.
9. LAVERN BAKER - "TINY TIM"
The atmospheric counterpoint from drums to bass -- this is totally a vibe song, almost from a film noir soundtrack. Ladies always get really into this one, which makes sense. It's hypnotic and almost becomes a striptease song.
10. JOHNNY 'GUITAR' WATSON - "ONE MORE KISS"
Watson worked as a pimp and he was known to have a lot of women around at all times. It's a song that's utterly confident but all of his attention is focused on one girl. It's like you're there with the finest girl he's ever seen. Really great, smoky speakeasy and late-night atmosphere type of tune. This song sounds like leaving the club with a girl at the very end of the night.
11. RONNIE LOVE - "CHILLS AND FEVER"
At this point, you're sweating so much that all of your hair's wet. This is the ultimate peak intensity of this mix, the most human, true, auditory expression of when you feel love or lust. The horns of this track are so apocalyptic, set against this heavy New Orleans-y backbeat that creates this super divine feeling of agony.
12. BOBBY "BLUE" BLAND - "I'LL TAKE CARE OF YOU"
This is such a romantic, dark song. Like smoking in bed and watching the sun come in. It's just starting to get light outside and you both look like shit, but it's one of the best feelings.