In case you missed our earlier installments: A few months ago, Idolator’s Michaelangelo Matos sent out an e-mail to a handful of his associates with a proposition: Give me a list of your 100 favorite R&B songs. Well, those months went by and the only person to turn in a completed list was…my mother. In the third installment of Kathleen Turner’s 100 Greatest R&B Songs of All Time (with bonus YouTube links), we discover the secret origin of my sister’s name (she’s the one who looks like an adorable chipmunk in that picture there), learn that it’s okay to let 10-year-olds dance with robots at a nightclubs, and are teased with this tantalizing (and slightly disturbing) bit of foreshadowing: “(Jess: Sly will appear again in the top 10. And the event of your true conception will be revealed then!)”
Once again, aside from cleaning up the spelling and grammar here and there (and the occasional editor’s note where applicable), I have left her musings mostly intact.
40. James Brown – “Sex Machine”
Now the real fun begins. Cause we are doing the top 40, and I am now all about this! James Brown and the Famous Flames, KING records, 98 entries on Billboard’s Top 40 and no one had surpassed that! He is the real deal heavy funk! And if you think “there is no avenue of escape,” there is!
39. Aretha Franklin – “Chain of Fools”
If James is the Godfather and Isaac is Moses, Aretha is most certainly the Queen of Soul. 17 Grammies. Go ahead and top that all you cool bloggers who think you know it all. I think not! First woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This song is for every woman who has loved someone who treated them mean and still wanted them. I could tell all of you young girls a thing or two or three about that!
38. Marvin Gaye – “Sexual Healing”
I want the kind of love that Marvin had for Tammi Terrell. What a love (and song) explosion. With Ashford and Simpson writing and producing, certainly a win-win combination. 67 singles on Billboard. I have the Marvin Is 60 CD, my boy gave it to me, a great tribute with the likes of Erykah and D’Angelo. I highly suggest you purchase it!
37. Mary Jane Girls – “All Night Long”
These were the original Spice Girls, circa the ’80s. So you can all take your Spice Girls posters down now! Invented by Rick James, who also will appear later on this list. And what was Teena Marie thinking, loving that bad boy? And what about that name that Rick concocted for them? Well you know my theory: pot is not a drug!
36. Dazz Band – “Let It Whip”
Okay BoyzII Men, get real. There is only one real version of this song! And it is the Daze Band!
35. Lakeside – “Fantastic Voyage”
I am now getting self-righteous about this. Coolio! I need to write about the real deal, Lakeside. These boys were the bomb, coming out on stage with their black jump-suits on and being all about it.
34. Hall and Oates – “Sara Smile”
Blue-eyed-soul or rock-and-soul?
So, it is 1980 and I am having my second baby. My first husband was allowed to name the first, Jess. And so I am going to name the second, the sweetest child. And because these Philly Boys are so special to me, I named her Sara. When this song plays on the radio, I still cry. She is the pride of my life.
Hall and Oates teamed with David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks, and my GOD how great was that? 30 years Darryl and his Sara were together. This past Fourth of July they appeared live in Philly and Sara and her friends partied down. We shared numerous phone calls during the concert and the truest comment I made was that I would still do the nasty with Darryl in a heart beat! And my Sara still has the smile of an angel!
(Editor’s note: From doing the nasty to the smile of an angel in the space of a sentence…that kinda sums her up, really.)
33. Steve Arrington – “Weak In The Knees”
(Best I could do, y’all.)
Told you he would appear again in the top 40! His “Dancin’ In The Key Of Life” is also the best. Truly a breakthrough artist, from soul to gospel.
32. The O’Jays – “Living For The Weekend”
I want you all to know that the repeated Philly connection on this list was not intentional; I picked these songs strictly because I love them. But, this is truly The Sound of Philadelphia, the backbone group for Gamble and Huff. Go Eddie Levert!
31. The Temptations – “Since I Lost My Baby”
There was nothing that compared to the Classic Five lineup of the Temps. And we have to give just kudos to Otis Williams–the only original member that is still kickin’ it!
30. Stephanie Mills – “Home”
Such a little girl with such a big voice, and such a great song from such a STUPID movie! Go figure. “When I think of home, my friend’s smilin’ down on me.” They say you can’t go home again. But you can.
29. Guy – “Groove Me”
Since my mind is going–as you know!–I really can’t remember which birthday party it was, but it was definitely for Jess’ sister Sara. This song reminds me of that party. We are at Pulsations nightclub–always a good idea to have a child’s party at a nightclub, right? And her wish for that birthday was that the big robot the nightclub had as a special prop would descend from the ceiling and dance with her. And it did! Thrills! Her only other wish is to be bounced off the belly of the Philly Phanatic, and I am working on that still.
28. Issac Hayes – “Don’t Let Go”
From “Shaft” to “Chef.” You know, if I won an Oscar, I would just sit and look at it! If anyone I know makes it, I am to be there at the Academy Awards, and when they accept, they are to look out into the audience and I will be there to acknowledge that I was their inspiration. Okay, I am ready for my close-up! Oh and Isaac, with that shaved head and the chains! Oh Lordy!
27. The Isley Brothers – “Who’s That Lady”
Now here is one of the greatest! Six decades on Billboard! And the longest-running charted group in history! And Ronald is still smokin’ with my pal R. Kelly. And they gave Jimi Hendrix his start. My little heart is racing. I am getting so excited that I have to stop or my computer will blow up! One of the best guitar solos ever!
26. Ohio Players – “Skin Tight”
So I have been blabbing on about how great Philly was. And it was! But Ohio has produced some of the greatest as well. And no one has beat the Ohio Players’ album covers. So influenced by Sly Stone, who appears in my Top 10. And what is it about Bonner’s voice? There are really ’70s FUNK!
25. The Whispers – “It’s A Love Thing”
What is with that name? There is nothing quiet about these boys. And the twins! Oh my! Rocksteady,,,,everyone knows how to groove to this one! So while everyone else I knew was watching American Bandstand, I was watching Soul Train, and the Whispers recorded for Don Cornelius’ label. Every time I dance–and this girl knows how to groove–I am secretly on Soul Train.
24. Wilson Pickett – “Mama Told Me Not To Come”
(No clip available, sorry y’all.)
Okay so I am in high school and while the other losers were listening to “Telephone Line” by ELO and “Hold Your Head Up” by Argent, I was grooving to the WICKED! And with a keyboardist like Isaac Hayes how can you beat that? Wilson was ferocious! And he called his Mama the baddest woman in his book. Is that how you think of me Jess?
23. Barry White – “Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love Babe”
Well now. “Every time we had love and made love.” Sing it to me! Great karaoke song for you guys with deep voices. And I hope everyone appreciates how many children were conceived with his music. Okay now for all of you over 35s, let us remember the “Banana Splits.” Come on, you do! And the scary witch? Now am I making you all feel creepy? Okay, calm down. Barry’s songs were also recorded on the “Banana Splits” show!
22. Otis Redding – “Tramp”
With Carla Thomas, and what a great pair they made. He was only 26 years old at the time of his death, and I just can’t imagine how much we ended up losing with this man. With the Bar-Kays, Jerry Butler, Booker T and the MG’s, and Sam and Dave. I can’t stand this! How wonderful were these voices!
21. Sly and the Family Stone – “Family Affair”
So it is 1973 and this song is still grooving. And playing repeatedly on the way to Watkins Glen’s Summer Jam with my girlfriends. 600,000 people. Was too young for Woodstock but made sure we went to this one! And waking up in the back of an unknown VW beetle with some guy and then taking him home to meet your parents? Always a good idea. Check out this web site. I think I am in the picture “The Road #2.” Guess who I am?