Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Top 100 R&B Songs of the 70's--#100-#91

Preface the special by saying this represents a ranking of The Top 100 R&B songs of the 70's*, not a ranking of The Top 100 Songs of the 70's--note the difference.  You may see a song and wonder why it is ranked so low.  The R&B chart is different than the overall chart.  It is only one segment of the population, one genre.  Just as the Adult Contemporary or the Mainstream Rock charts are their own segments.  If there's one thing I can impress on music fans it's this.  All genres combine to make up the popular chart.  I hear things like "Alabama has had 21 #1 hits" and just cringe.  Not true.  They've had Country #1 songs, but none overall.  Make sure when you hear things like that, you're clear on which chart they are talking about. 

The Top 100 R&B Songs* is an exclusive presentation in January of 2012 by Inside the Rock Era.  There are so many all-time classics that the 70's arguably was the top decade in history for R&B music.  Stevie Wonder, the Jackson5, the Temptations, Gladys Knight & the Pips--all the music that was so special in the 70's is here.  What distinguishes this list from others you'll find, besides the fact that we believe it's accurate (!), is that it is presented in the way you've come to expect.  Not only do you get the list, but you get the reasons behind the rankings.  Plus, you get to listen to the song and, let's face it--that's what it all comes down to anyway.  We love the music!  

  #100--"Turn Off the Lights" by Teddy Pendergrass
One of the giants of R&B gets us started.  As a solo artist, Teddy has two of The Top 100*.  He also has three as lead singer of Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes.  This song did not reach #1, but it did reach #2 for four weeks in the summer of 1979 in the midst of stiff competition from Chic's "Good Times" and "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" from Michael Jackson.

Why it isn't ranked higher:  Not reaching #1 is important but not a deal-breaker, as the inclusion of this song testifies.  If a song has that level of competition, it doesn't have to reach #1.  But it did not sell a million copies, nor did it reach #1 when the two songs mentioned above fell.
 #99--"Always and Forever" by Heatwave
At #99, the follow-up to the smash debut "Boogie Nights".  It did not make #1 on the R&B chart, but it did make #2 for two weeks and remain on the chart for 17 weeks.  Like the song preceding it in our special, it too went gold.  Plus, it had better competition than #100 as it was kept from the top by "Serpentine Fire" by Earth, Wind & Fire.
Why it isn't ranked higher:  The song only made #2.  There's no guarantee that had "Serpentine Fire" not been out that the song would have reached #1 because it still had an opportunity once that song dropped from the top but other songs passed it by.
    #98--"Get Down Tonight" by K.C. & the Sunshine Band

This was the fourth single release from Harry Wayne Casey and the group.  It catapulted them to stardom overnight.  The song hit #1 on the R&B chart on August 23, 1975.  It went platinum in sales and remained on the chart for 23 weeks.  "Get Down Tonight" was nominated for R&B Song of te Year and K.C. & the Sunshine Band was nominated for Best R&B Group Vocal Performance at the GrammyAwards in 1976 .
Why it isn't ranked higher:  Although the song hit #1, and it would rank higher among The Top 100 Songs of the 70's, on the R&B chart, it didn't face strong competition; in other words, no other songs in The Top 100 R&B songs of the 70's* were out at the same time.

                     #97--"Car Wash" by Rose Royce

Although I personally prefer "I Wanna' Get Next To You" from Rose Royce, this is the one that made The Top 100*.   "Car Wash" was the group's first single and what a way to debut.  It hit #1 for two weeks in December of 1976 and remained on the chart for 22 weeks, going platinum. 
Why it isn't rated higher:  Although it had great competition--"Dazz" from Brick, "You Don't Have to Be A Star (To Be In My Show)" from Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr. and "I Wish" from Stevie Wonder, the song has dated itself.  It still sounds good, but not fresh and its airplay has suffered badly in the years since it was a hit. 
         #96--"Betcha' By Golly Wow" by the Stylistics

This great group enjoyed an amazing 12 consecutive Top 10 songs on the R&B chart to begin their career.  This was their fourth single, reaching #2 for two weeks.  It remained on the R&B chart for 13 weeks and sold a million copies.  It was out at the same time as "In the Rain" from the Dramatics and "I'll Take You There" by the Staple Singers.
Why it isn't rated higher:  The song deserves to be here, but it wasn't #1 and given the strength of the songs to come, it couldn't compete with those.
    #95--"Love Ballad" by L.T.D.

L.T.D. began their career backing Sam & Dave, but once they acquired lead singer and drummer Jeffrey Osbourne, they hit it big with this song.  "Love Ballad" reached #1 for two weeks.  It spent 22 weeks on the chart and went gold.  It was out at the same time as "You Don't Have To Be a Star" by Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr.
Why it isn't ranked higher:  Apart from the song mentioned above, little competition.

   #94--"Killing Me Softly With His Song" by Roberta Flack

Roberta was immensely popular on the R&B chart.  This song was originally on Roberta's 1969 album First Take but picked up new popularity when it was included in the movie Play Misty for Me.
Why it isn't ranked higher:  Again, this isn't a ranking of The Top 100 Songs of the 70's overall, but rather just the R&B segment.  It only reached #4 there, but does have enough strength to warrant being included in this special.

#93--"The Closer I Get to You" by Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway

Flack goes back-to-back here with help from her singing partner Donny Hathaway.  The song reached #1 for two weeks in April of 1978.  It had competition from another great song--"Too Much, Too Little, Too Late" by Johnny Mathis & Deniece Williams.  It remained on the R&B chart for 19 weeks and sold a million copies.
Why it isn't ranked higher:  The song has good numbers as evidenced above.  But when you look at the strengths of the songs ranked ahead, it falls short of the accomplishments of those songs.
          #92--"Love Hangover" by Diana Ross

"Love Hangover" was Ross's biggest hit on the R&B chart since "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" in 1970.  "Love Hangover" reached #1 for a week and spent 17 weeks on the chart.  It was out at the same time as "Kiss and Say Goodbye" from the Manhattans and sold two million copies.  "Love Hangover" was nominated for Best R&B Song of the Year and Ross was nominated for Best R&B Female Vocal Performance at the 1977 Grammy Awards.  
While is isn't ranked higher:  Outside of the song mentioned above, it didn't have strong competition.  

       #91--"Kiss and Say Goodbye" by the Manhattans

Here we see a direct reflection of competition at #90.  "Love Hangover" (the song at #91) only spent one week at #1 because this song beat it out the following week (May 22 of 1976).  The Manhattans also sold two million copies with this song.  
The group, which came from Jersey City, New Jersey, went on to have 44 hits on the R&B chart, but none bigger than this one.  For a time, they featured female vocalist Regina Belle, who would begin her own solo career in 1987.  It remained on the chart for 26 weeks.

Why it isn't ranked higher:  The competition for this song was not as strong as for others you'll see ahead of it.  That, combined with the fact that it could only achieve one week at #1 despite the weaker competition, lands it right here at #91.

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