Monday, January 23, 2012

The Top 100 R&B Songs of the 70's--#90-#81

We're only on Day Two of Inside the Rock Era's special presentation of The Top 100 R&B Songs of the 70's* and already the quality is kicked up a notch.  Here are songs from #90 through #81:
#90--"Fire" by the Ohio Players

Although most people would say "Love Rollercoaster" is a much better song, remember this special features the 100 R&B songs.  In that genre, this song was more popular, hitting #1 for two weeks in January and February of 1975.  It sold a million copies and remained on the R&B chart for 18 weeks.  The song didn't have a lot of competition, because "You're the First, the Last, My Everything" was the only other Top R&B Song out at the time.
The band started as strictly an instrumental group called the Ohio Untouchables.  They went on to have 29 R&B hits.  The group was nominated for Best R&B Group Vocal Performance for this song and they check in at #90.

#89--"Let's Do It Again" by the Staple Singers

Here's a family group from Mississippi who hit #1 three times in their career.  This one reached #1 for two weeks in November of 1975.  It spent 18 weeks on the R&B chart and sold a million copies.  It's biggest competition came from Silver Convention's "Fly, Robin, Fly".

The group has another entry in The Top 100 R&B Songs of the 70's* but for now, they are at #89 with "Let's Do It Again".

         #88--"On Broadway" by George Benson

Great jazz guitarist George Benson began playing guitar at age 8.  His remake of the Drifters' classic received considerable airplay and, while it didn't reach #1 (#2 for two weeks in April of 1978), it still has the strength to get here.
The song was released in a time where two heavyweight R&B songs--"The Closer I Get To You" from Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway and "Too Much, Too Little, Too Late" from Johnny Mathis & Deniece Williams.  It is that competition, plus the fact that Benson won a Grammy Award in 1978 for Best R&B Male Vocalist that allows George a spot here.
  #87--"Boogie On Reggae Woman" by Stevie Wonder

This was the last #1 R&B song of 1974 and the first of 1975--it enjoyed a stay of two weeks at the top.  The main competition came from Barry White's "You're the First, The Last, My Everything".  "Boogie On Reggae Woman"  remained on the chart for 17 weeks.

The song won a Grammy Award for Best R&B Male Vocal Performance in 1975.  Stevie had 71 hits on the R&B chart but this was one of his biggest.  

       #86--"Don't Leave Me This Way" by Thelma Houston

Although she never matched the success of this song, Thelma did go on to have 15 hits on the R&B chart.  Sandwiched between "Car Wash" by Rose Royce, "I've Got Love On My Mind" from Natalie Cole and Stevie Wonder's "I Wish", this song still found it's way to #1 on February 19, 1977.  The song won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance.  I think it is one of the best vocal performances of all-time.
"Don't Leave Me This Way" is one of The Top Disco Songs of the Rock Era* and remained on the R&B chart for 19 weeks.  Thelma is also featured in several movies including Norman...Is That You?  

        #85--"Strawberry Letter #23" by Brothers Johnson

The Brothers register The #85 R&B Song of the 70's*.  It came out the following year and climbed to #1 on August 8, 1977.  "Strawberry Letter 23" remained on the R&B chart for 19 weeks and went gold.  The song fought through competition such as "Easy" by the Commodores and the smash "Float On" by the Floaters.
The group came out of Los Angeles and would go on to hit #1 again in the 80's with "Stomp".  Guitarist Lee Ritenour contributed the great solo.   
                      #84--"Flash Light" by Parliament

Parliament, whose rhythm section also contributed to the sound of Funkadelic, was a highly influential funk collection of nearly 40 musicians led by George Clinton.  "Flash Light" reached #1 for three weeks in March of 1978, spent 20 weeks on the R&B chart and went gold.
The song did not have measurable competition; hence the reason it is ranked lower than it would be by pure chart ranking alone.

            #83--"Play That Funky Music" by Wild Cherry

This was the debut single by this group from Steubenville, Ohio.  It reached #1 on September 4 and spent two weeks at the top.  Altogether, the song spent 20 weeks on the R&B chart and sold over two million copies.
The single went platinum and has been covered by several artists.  The main competition for it was "(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty" from K.C. & the Sunshine Band.  Wild Cherry was nominate for Best R&B Group Performance for this song in 1977.

#82--"Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me" by Gladys Knight & the Pips

Here's the first song from Gladys Knight & the Pips in our special and given their amazing, smooth sound, you know there will be more.  The group checks in at #82 here.

This one earned the #1 spot on the R&B chart for two weeks in April of 1974.  It remained on the chart for 19 weeks and it sold over a million copies.  "TSOP" by MFSB was its closest competition but there was little else.  Still, a great song and definitely worthy of a spot in The Top 100*. 

  #81--"If I Were Your Woman" by Gladys Knight & the Pips

At #81, Gladys Knight & the Pips land a second song  in The Top 100 R&B Songs of the 1970's*.  It reached #1 on January 23, 1971 against songs like "Groove Me" by King Floyd and "The Tears of a Clown" by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles.  The song spent 15 weeks on the R&B chart.
The group from Atlanta, Georgia consists of Gladys, her brother Merald "Bubba" Knight and sister Brenda, and cousins William and Eleanor Guest.  Gladys & the Pips won the 1972 Grammy for Best R&B Song of the Year.

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