Every Tuesday, the Analog Kid blog goes back in time and features five groovy R&B/soul songs from a specific year. Warning: by R&B/soul, I also mean disco. I could go Alicia Bridges on your ass at any given moment, so just be ready!
This week, we go back to the year 1970. Soul music was beginning to take over the pop charts in a major way: The Jackson 5, Edwin Starr, Sly & The Family Stone, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, and Diana Ross all had #1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 that year. We’re going to dig just a little bit deeper than that as we take a look back at some great R&B/soul tunes from 1970…
Pacific Gas & Electric: “Are You Ready?” (Allen/Hill)
From the album Are You Ready
Columbia Records, 1970
A fantastic fusion of funk, soul and rock, “Are You Ready?” climbed as high as #14 on the Hot 100 in 1970. It was the only hit Pacific Gas & Electric ever had, but their ground-breaking sound has made the band’s five records into valuable rarities. The Analog Kid finally found a beat-up copy of Are You Ready on LP about six months ago, and it brought a small tear to his eye.
Honey Cone: “Girls It Ain’t Easy” (Ronald Dunbar/Edyth Wayne)
From the album Take Me With You
Hot Wax Records, 1970
“Girls It Ain’t Easy” comes from Honey Cone’s debut album Take Me With You. It was only a minor hit, reaching #68 on the Hot 100. Honey Cone would go on to much greater success (“Want Ads” went to #1 in 1971) before breaking up in 1973. A little googling confirms that Honey Cone will reunite for the first time in years on the third Soul Train cruise early next year, along with a stellar lineup that includes The Time, the Commodores, and Roberta Flack.
A note for my lovely wife, should she happen to be reading this: please ignore the $4000 charge that just appeared on our AmEx. It’s a mistake and I promise I’ll get to the bottom of it. Thanks honey!
The Supremes: “Stoned Love” (Kenny Thomas/Frank Wilson)
From the album New Ways But Love Stays
Motown Records, 1970
Diana Ross left the Supremes for a solo career in early 1970, and new leader singer Jean Terrell joined holdovers Mary Wilson and Cindy Birdsong immediately. The new trio proved they could still do it even without Ross, as “Stoned Love” peaked at #7 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The Delfonics: “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)” (Thom Bell/William Hart)
From the album The Delfonics
Philly Groove Records, 1970
Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)
Doe soul music get any better than this? I don’t think so. “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)” took the Delfonics into the Top 10 for the second time, following the success of 1968’s “La-La (Means I Love You).” New Kids On The Block’s remake reached #8 in October 1989, but have no fear– NKOTB’s version will not appear in the bonus tracks section because I simply don’t own it. I know I’m breaking the first rule of the Analog Kid blog and I could just go quickly download it, but I’m hungry and I think I’d rather spend that $1.29 on a frozen burrito. Yes, that means I do actually have standards, and apparently NKOTB fall somewhere behind Patio spicy red beef and bean burritos on that list.
Another note for my wife, should she still be reading: first I run up a $4000 AmEx bill, and now I have dissed the New Kids. I have already put sheets on the couch.
Brook Benton: “Rainy Night In Georgia” (Tony Joe White)
From the album Brook Benton Today
Cotillion Records, 1970
Brook Benton was a huge presence on the charts in the late ’50s and early ’60s, but it had been years since his last major hit. “Rainy Night In Georgia” returned Benton to the top of the R&B charts, and went as high as #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 2004, Rolling Stone placed “Rainy Night In Georgia” at #498 on its list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.
The first rule of The Analog Kid blog is that if you write about a song on the Analog Kid blog, you share the song on the Analog Kid blog.*
Honey Cone: “Want Ads” (Greg Perry/Barney Perkins/General Norman Johnson)
From the album Sweet Replies
Hot Wax Records, 1971
The Delfonics: “La-La (Means I Love You}” (Thom Bell/William Hart)
From the album La La Means I Love You
Philly Groove Records, 1968
*NKOTB exception invoked
Thanks for helping me get my groove on!
Late 60s soul… I was malleable at the time, I know, and there are great moments in music history that probably equal those days, but mercy sakes that was a tremendous moment to begin listening to the radio (especially when you begin listening to the soul station (WAMO) instead of the pop station (KQV) that your white friends all listen to).