Friday, January 27, 2012

The Top 100 R&B Songs of the 70's--#50-#41

We're halfway home.  We've already heard great songs by the Spinners, Earth, Wind & Fire, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Aretha many great songs.  The next 50 did even better on the R&B chart.
               #50--"Living for the City" by Stevie Wonder

Just ahead of Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, one of the songs pushing for attention at the same time.  It reached #1 on the R&B chart in December of that year and also remained at the top for two weeks.
The song was on the R&B chart for 16 weeks and has done well in the years since, remaining strong in airplay.  "Living for the City" won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Song of the Year in 1974.  Hard to believe this song still hasn't gone gold.  Motown might want to do another check of their records.

               #49--"Clean Up Woman" by Betty Wright

This Miami, Florida singer started out in the gospel group Echoes of Joy.  Wright was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1973 for Best R&B Female Vocal Performance.  What is unique about this song being all the way up at #49 is that it never reached #1. 

What it did do was land at #2 for eight solid weeks.  It spent a total of 16 weeks on the chart and sold over a million copies.  You will see some lists that strictly go by chart numbers, meaning that every #1 song in history is better than every #2 song  which is crazy.  Joel Whitburn's lists do this.  You will see others that don't even look at chart numbers, which is just as crazy.  The right chart will take them into account and give them proper weight. 
In this case, a number two song for eight weeks could be better than a lot of number one songs.  What you want to look at is competition; that is the deciding factor.  What kept this song out of #1 on the R&B chart?  "Have You Seen Her" by the Chi-Lites, "Family Affair" by Sly & the Family Stone and "Let's Stay Together" by Al Green.  While no one in their right mind can say that this song would beat out any of those because it couldn't top them at the time, all four of these songs help out the others.  And that earns Betty Wright a spot high in the countdown with "Clean Up Woman".

#48--"You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine" by Lou Rawls

Lou charted 28 hits on the R&B genre from 1966-1987.  He never had a bigger one than this one in the summer of 1976.
"You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine" spent an impressive 22 weeks on the chart and sold over a million copies.  Competing against "Something He Can Feel" from Aretha Franklin and "Getaway" by Earth, Wind & Fire, it still reached #1 in July.

#47--"You're the First, the Last, My Everything" by Barry White

I told you there would be more from Mr. White and he's not close to done.  This is a great song that topped the R&B chart in 1975.  In fact, Barry reached the Top 10 in that genre with each of his first nine releases.
This song hit #1 on the R&B chart on January 18, spent 17 weeks on the chart and sold over a million copies.  "Boogie On Reggae Woman" by Stevie Wonder and "Fire" from the Ohio Players, both of which we've already located places for in The Top 100*, were out at the same time.

                      #46--"Oh Girl" by the Chi-Lites

This Chicago, Illinois group began as the Hi-Lites in 1963.  They had 41 hits on the R&B chart through 1984.

This song was a smash in 1972, reaching #1 for two weeks.  It also spent 15 weeks on the chart but did not go gold.  It's biggest strength, besides the weeks at #1, was its competition--"In the Rain" from the Dramatics, "Lean On Me" by Bill Withers and "I'll Take You There" from the Staple Singer were all out jostling for position with "Oh Girl".

           #45--"Higher Ground" by Stevie Wonder

Here's another of those nine straight songs to reach the Top Three on the R&B chart for Stevie Wonder from 1973-1977.  It defines "cool".
By this time, Stevie had really elevated his sound to a new level.  This song spent 15 weeks on the R&B chart.  Although it only spent one week at #1, it was up against major competition.  It displaced the great Marvin Gaye song "Let's Get It On" at #1 on September 29, 1973 and was also up against "Keep On Truckin'" from Eddie Kendricks and "Midnight Train To Georgia".

              #44--"Have You Seen Her" by the Chi-Lites

The Chi-Lites place both of their smashes in this group from 50-41.  Like "Oh Girl", it too reached #1 for two weeks.


"Have You Seen Her" remained on the R&B chart for 12 weeks but did not go gold.  It had to compete against "Family Affair" and "Let's Stay Together", two of the biggest R&B songs of the decade. 

                #43--"Reunited" by Peaches & Herb

This song would rank higher overall in The Top 100 Songs of the 70's, but just considering R&B, it still did well.  Peaches & Herb did several songs in the 60's most notably "Close Your Eyes" from 1967.
This song in The Top 100*, however, features, um, a different Peaches--Linda Green, who joined with Herb Fame to record this great song.  It spent 17 weeks on the chart and went platinum.  "Reunited" went to #1 on April 28, 1979 and stayed there for four weeks.  Plus, it was nominated for a Grammy in 1980 for Best R&B Song of the Year.  Although it would rank higher considering the music audience as a whole, on the R&B chart, a lack of competition at the time limits its position.  Still, Peaches & Herb rank within The Top 50*.

       #42--"I Want You Back" by the Jackson 5

Gary, Indiana's pride and joy--the Jackson 5, whose members have given us so much great music, both with the group and as solo stars.  This was their debut release in late 1969.  It promptly advanced to #1 on January 10 for four weeks and spent 18 weeks on the R&B chart.  It did not go gold, however. 
 "I Want You Back" would have likely piled on more weeks at #1 if not for "Thank You" by Sly & the Family Stone, which was right behind it.  Although the songs "I Can't Get Next To You" by the Temptations, "Baby, I'm For Real" by the Originals and "Someday We'll Be Together" by Diana Ross & the Supremes were all part of the 60's, their competition still comes into play for this song and helped it to rank this high. 

                #41--"Shining Star" by Earth, Wind & Fire

We are up to #41, and here's one of five songs that superstar group Earth, Wind & Fire have in The Top 100*.  That's behind only Stevie Wonder who has eight and the Jackson 5 with seven.  
"Shining Star", the group's first #1, was on the R&B chart for 15 weeks and sold over a million copies.  Earth, Wind & Fire won a Grammy Award in 1976 for Best R&B Group Vocal Performance.  The song didn't have strong competition, limiting how high it can rank.  But it still places well into The Top 50* for the decade.

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