A reminder that this list is compiled exclusively by Inside the Rock Era. It isn't an overall ranking of The Top Songs of the 1970's--you'll find several songs that would rank much higher overall and several songs that wouldn't even make The Top 100 of the 1970's if you gauge the entire nation. Rather, this represents The Top 100 R&B Songs from the decade, compiling statistics from R&B stations only.
What this does feature is some incredible soul music--you can definitely get your groove on with these songs. Great "mood music" too, I might add...
#30--"I've Got Love On My Mind" by Natalie Cole
Natalie didn't have as many songs in The Top 100* as I expected going into the research necessary to produce the special. She did, however make the list with "Our Love", "This Will Be" and this great song at #30.
Cole spent 20 weeks on the chart with this gold record. It grabbed the #1 spot away from Thelma Houston's "Don't Leave Me This Way" on February 26 with former #1 "I Wish" from Stevie Wonder still lurking close behind. Natalie spent five weeks at #1 on the R&B chart. She was nominated for a Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal performance for this song. There wasn't great quality coming up immediately behind her, so that hurt the song a few spots in the ranking but this song has to rank up high.
#29--"Float On" by the Floaters
What a great debut from a new group from Detroit, Michigan, hitting #1 with your first release. They only charted two times after that on the R&B chart, however.
The Floaters took over #1 from "Strawberry Letter 23" by the Brothers Johnson on August 13, 1977. They remained there for six weeks, spent 20 total weeks on the R&B chart, and sold over a million copies of the single. Barry White was moving up the chart with "It's Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next To Me" and eventually reached the peak position.
#28--"It's Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next to Me" by Barry White
Here's the soulful Barry White, who moved into the #1 spot on the R&B chart shortly after "Float On" by the Floaters exited, on October 1, 1977. It stayed at the top for five weeks.
This was Barry's last big hit of the decade and he spent 21 weeks on the chart and sold over a million copies with it. He held off "Back In Love Again" by L.T.D. and "Serpentine Fire" by Earth, Wind & Fire, so huge competition for this song.
#27--"Love Train" by the O'Jays
At #27, the great group--the O'Jays. They reached #1 for four weeks, but what got it this high was its impressive competition.
The group spent 13 weeks on the chart with this million-seller. They hit #1 on February 17, rising over "Superstition" by Stevie Wonder and "Could It Be I'm Falling In Love" by the Spinners. They also had Gladys Knight & the Pips breathing down their necks with "Neither One of Us (Wants To Be the First To Say Goodbye)". To be released at the same time as those songs and still hold on to #1 for four weeks is highly impressive. "Love Train" was nominated for Best R&B Song of the Year at the Grammy Awards and the O'Jays earned a nomination for Best R&B Group Vocal Performance for the song.
#26--"Feel Like Makin' Love" by Roberta Flack
Roberta Flack checks in at #26 with her best song on the R&B chart. She spent five weeks at #1 in August of 1974, rising above "Rock Your Baby" by George McCrae and holding off Barry White's "Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe" and Stevie Wonder's "You Haven't Done Nothin'".
Flack spent 17 weeks on the R&B chart with this gold record. "Feel Like Makin' Love is song #26.
#25--"Mr. Big Stuff" by Jean Knight
New Orleans, Louisiana-born Jean Knight enjoyed a huge hit with this, her first single release. It reached #1 for five weeks in July of 1971.
The song spent 16 weeks on the chart but did not go gold. It had competition from "Want Ads" by the Honey Cone and "Mercy Mercy Me" by Marvin Gaye, both of which made The Top 100*. Knight was nominated both for Best R&B Song and for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.
#24--"The Love You Save" by the Jackson 5
This was the the group's third single in their run of four straight #1 songs to start their career in 1970.
"The Love You Save" took over from the smash "Love On a Two-Way Street" by the Moments on June 20 and it didn't let go until six weeks later, when Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours)" took over. The Jackson 5 spent 14 weeks on the chart but did not go gold.
#23--"One Nation Under a Groove" by Funkadelic
This group charted 46 times on the R&B chart from 1967-1983 under various combinations of musicians and usually using the names Parliament and Funkadelic. Funkadelic was the rhythm section of Parliament.
"One Nation Under A Groove" didn't do near as well on the popular chart, but it was an R&B smash, roaring to #1 in September of 1978 and posting six consecutive weeks at #1. Funkadelic spent an impressive 25 weeks on the chart and sold over a million copies. It dominated the chart with less than stellar competition but succumbed when the next song came along.
#22--"I'm Every Woman" by Chaka Khan
This was Rufus lead singer Chaka Khan's first solo release, written for her by the famous songwriting team of Ashford & Simpson.
"I'm Every Woman" spent 20 weeks on the chart. It only spent three weeks at #1 in November of 1978, but had some of the best competition of any of The Top 100 R&B Songs of the 70's*--it was sandwiched between "One Nation Under a Groove" by Funkadelic and "Le Freak" by Chic. Chaka was deservedly nominated for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance at the Grammy Awards.
#21--"Best of My Love" by the Emotions
This group from Chicago, Illinois charted 30 times on the R&B chart, but never bigger than with this one from the summer of 1977.
"Best of My Love" reached #1 on June 4 and was on top for a total of four weeks. It spent 22 weeks on the chart and sold over a million copies. The closest competition was "Strawberry Letter 23", which we heard earlier by the Brothers Johnson. "Best of My Love" was nominated for Best R&B Song at the Grammy Awards and the Emotions won for Best Group R&B Vocal Performance.