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Now That We Found Love and For The Love Of Money by The O’Jays: In 1973, Philadelphia Soul group The O’Jays released their fourth LP, the socially conscious album Ship Ahoy (considered their masterpiece alongside Backstabbers), a critical and commercial success, reaching No. 1 on the Soul/R&B Chart and No. 11 on the Pop Chart. Ship Ahoy was the best-selling R&B album of 1974 on the Billboard Chart and was eventually certified Platinum for more than one million copies sold by The RIIA. The two most memorable singles released from the album were Now That We Found Love (Soul/R&B No. 5, Pop No. 11) and For The Love Of Money (Soul/R&B No. 3, Pop No. 9), both written by the legendary songwriting team of Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff. Also available on The Essential O'Jays.
Let The Music Play and Baby, We Better Try To Get It Together by Barry White: Recorded in 1975 and released in January 1976, American Soul/R&B singer/songwriter Barry White’s self-produced fifth studio album, Let The Music Play, reached No. 8 on the Soul/R&B Chart and No. 42 on the Pop Chart. The title track, Let The Music Play, became a Top 10 hit single, peaking at No. 4 on the Soul/R&B Chart, No. 32 on the Pop Chart and No. 9 on the U.K. Singles Chart. The single Baby, We Better Try It Together reached Soul/R&B No. 29, Pop No. 92 and No. 15 on the U.K. Singles Chart. Also available on The Ultimate Collection.
Never Gonna Give You Up and Never Can Say Goodbye by Isaac Hayes: In 1971, Soul singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Isaac Hayes released the double album Black Moses on Stax Records, the follow-up to Shaft, his groundbreaking soundtrack (also a double album) for the movie of the same name. Black Moses reached No. 1 on the Soul/R&B Chart and No. 10 on the Pop Chart, and Isaac Hayes won a Grammy Award for “Best Pop Instrumental Performance By An Arranger, Composer, Orchestra and/or Choral Leader”. The album contained the Kenneth Gamble/Leon Huff/Jerry Butler-penned Never Gonna Give You Up and the hit single Never Can Say Goodbye, which peaked at No. 22 on the Pop Chart.
You Haven’t Done Nothin’ and They Won’t Go When I Go by Stevie Wonder: Fulfillingness' First Finale, Stevie Wonder’s eighteenth studio album, was released in 1974; it was his first LP to top the Pop Chart (for two weeks) and his third album to reach No. 1 on the Soul/R&B Chart (for nine non-consecutive weeks). Fulfillingness' First Finale won three Grammy Awards for “Best Male Pop Vocal”, “Best Male Rhythm and Blues”, and “Album Of The Year”, respectively. The album features the classic track They Won’t Go When I Go and the single You Haven’t Done Nothin’, which reached No. 1 on the Pop Chart (his fourth) and No. 1 on the Soul/R&B Chart (his tenth).
Midnight Train To Georgia and I’ve Got To Use My Imagination by Gladys Knight & The Pips: In 1973, Gladys Knight & The Pips released their eleventh studio album, Imagination, the Soul group’s first on the Buddah label (after having left Motown Records). Imagination was Gladys Knight & The Pips’ second album to enter the Top Ten (No. 1 on the Soul/R&B Chart, No. 9 on the Pop Chart). Written by singer-songwriter Jim Weatherly, the single Midnight Train To Georgia reached No. 1 on both the Soul/R&B and Pop charts and won a Grammy Award for “Best R&B Vocal Performance By A Duo, Group Or Chorus”. The single I’ve Got To Use My Imagination also reached No. 1 on the Soul/R&B Chart and peaked at No. 4 on the Pop chart, selling over one million copies. Also available on Midnight Train To Georgia: The Best Of Gladys Knight & The Pips.
Easy and Brick House by The Commodores: In 1977, Soul/Funk outfit Commodores released their self-titled fifth studio album, which peaked at No. 3 on the Pop Chart and spent all of eight weeks at No. 1 on the Soul/R&B Chart. The commercial success of Commodores was due in no small part to the album’s two big hit singles. Written by bandleader and future solo artist/megastar Lionel Richie, Easy reached No. 1 on the Soul/R&B Chart and No. 4 on the Pop Chart. Second single Brick House, showcasing Ronald LaPread’s round-tone bass-line, made its way to No. 4 on the Soul/R&B Chart and No. 5 on the Pop Chart. Also available on Anthology.
Strawberry Letter 23 by The Brothers Johnson: Written by singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Shuggie Otis, who recorded the song for his second album, 1971’s Freedom Flight. Several years later, George Johnson of the Brothers Johnson was dating one of Shuggie Otis' cousins, and that’s when he discovered Strawberry Letter 23. The Brothers Johnson then recorded a funkier, more dance-oriented version, which reached No. 1 on the Soul/R&B Chart and peaked at No. 5 on the Pop Chart. The song was included on the duo’s Platinum-selling, Quincy Jones-produced 1977 album Right On Time (Soul/R&B No. 2, Pop No. 13). Strawberry Letter 23 won a Grammy Award for “Best R&B Instrumental Performance. Also available on The Best Of The Brothers Johnson.
Harvest For The World and Let Me Down Easy by The Isley Brothers: Legendary Soul trio The Isley Brothers released their thirteenth studio album, Harvest For The World, in 1976. The LP reached No. 1 on the Soul/R&B Chart and No. 9 on the Pop Chart. Written by The Isley Brothers themselves, the single Harvest For The World –- which has long since become a Soul classic –- peaked at No. 9 on the Soul/R&B Chart and No. 63 on the Pop Chart. Harvest For The World also reached No. 10 on the U.K. Singles Chart. Let Me Down Easy is an elegant ballad. Also available on The Essential Isley Brothers.
Little Ghetto Boy by Donny Hathaway: Originally written for the soundtrack to the motion picture Come Back Charleston Blue, Little Ghetto Boy was also released as a single, reaching No. 25 on the Soul/R&B Chart in 1972. That same year another version of Little Ghetto Boy was recorded for the Soul singer’s classic live album Donny Hathaway Live (side one is a concert from The Troubadour in Hollywood, Los Angeles; side two is a performance from The Bitter End in Greenwich Village, Manhattan). Donny Hathaway Live reached No. 4 on the Soul/R&B Chart and No. 18 on the Pop Chart. Also available on A Donny Hathaway Collection.
The Best Of My Love by The Emotions: Written and composed by Maurice White and Al McKay (of Earth, Wind & Fire) for Soul/Disco trio The Emotions, Best Of My Love reached No. 1 on the Pop Chart and remained there for five non-consecutive weeks. It was also the fifth best-selling Soul/R&B single of 1977. Best Of My Love won a Grammy Award for “Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal” and eventually received a Platinum certification from RIAA. Produced by Maurice White, the trio's album Rejoice reached No. 1 on the Soul/R&B Chart and No. 7 on the Pop Chart.
Walking In Rhythm by The Blackbyrds: Soul/R&B and Jazz-Funk outfit The Blackbyrds formed in 1973, assembled by legendary Jazz trumpeter Donald Byrd, who worked as an instructor at the music department of Howard University in Washington, D.C., where the group’s original members were all full-time students. The Blackbyrds signed to Fantasy Records in 1973. Released in 1975, the breezy Walking In Rhythm was their biggest hit, reaching No. 4 on the Soul/R&B Chart and No. 6 on the Pop Chart. The single sold over one million copies and received a Grammy Award nomination. Walking In Rhythm was featured on The Blackbyrds’ second album Flying Start (Soul/R&B No. 5, Pop No. 30). Also available on The Best Of The Blackbyrds.
The Sly, Slick & The Wicked by The Lost Generation: Formed in Chicago, Illinois, in 1969, American Soul/R&B group The Lost Generation got their big break, when promotional head at Brunswick Records, Gus Redmond (a childhood friend of bandmember Lowrell Simon’s) arranged some recording sessions. The result of these was the song The Sly, Slick & The Wicked, which reached No. 14 on the Soul/R&B Chart and peaked at No. 30 on the Pop Chart. The song was also available on the album The Sly, Slick & The Wicked.
For more classic 1970s Soul, R&B, and Funk, also read: