Top 50 soul songs – a personal selection







I think of it as the Allmusic school of the “great man” theory.

Plenty of other writers, reviewers, bloggers, pundits and fans of all stripes plays the same game, of course.

But some Allmusic writers/reviewers seem particularly prone to it.

And, my own personal interests seems top indicate, this is particularly true when it comes to classic ’60s and ’70s soul.

It goes like this: An artist/album may be just fine, but it is very much in the copycat school of the template laid down by, variously, Motown, Stax, Muscle Shoals, whatever.

A therefore, by implication, inferior.

No doubt to a significant extent, this suits the audience of Allmusic and other music media outlets.

But it also represents musical myopia.

Because like all hardcore fans, anoraks, obsessives, nutjobs and collectors, I know these simple truths – sometimes originality is not all; sometimes the copy is not only as good as the supposed original – it can be and often is A WHOLE FREAKING LOT BETTER.

So I wondered what my Top 50 list of epic soul songs would look like.

So I did it.

It is, as I guessed it would be, a mix of the famous and the obscure.

But not that obscure – I am a fan of and listener to reissues.

The days of really going down rabbit holes by pursuing 45s (and 78s) await my Gentleman of Leisure life change.

Whenever that may be.

This list is roughly in order of merit or esteem – Percy Sledge and Paul Kelly were always going to be the first cabs of this rank.

(And Kelly’s female protege at Dial, Annette Snell, hot on their heels …)

But it is only very roughly so – the list also reflects my haphazard filing system and random factors such as memory.

And, of course, if I did this list again tomorrow, it would be very different.



1. Percy Sledge – Thief In The Night

2. Percy Sledge – Cover Me

3. Percy Sledge – Take Time To Know Her

4. Percy Sledge – Come Softly To Me

5. Percy Sledge – True Love Travels On A Gravel Road

6. Paul Kelly – Stealin’ In The Name Of The Lord

7. Paul Kelly – Since I Found You

8. Paul Kelly – The Day After Forever

9. Annette Snell – Footprints On My Mind

10. Annette Snell – I’ll Be Your Fool Once More

11. Annette Snell – You Oughta be With Me

12. Annette Snell – Get Your Thing Together

13. Shirley Brown – It Ain’t No Fun

14. William Bell – Sacrifice

15. Sandra Wright – I’ll See You Through

16. Doris Duke – It Sure Was Fun

17. Dobie Gray – Drift Away

18. George McRae – Rock Your Baby

19. Brook Benton – Rainy Night In Georgia

20. Tyrone Davis – Turn Back The Hands Of Time

21. Betty Wright – Cleanup Woman

22. David Ruffin – What Becomes of the Brokenhearted

23. The Contours – It’s Growing

24. The Monitors – Bring Back The Love

25. Buster Benton – Sweet 94

26. Clarence Carter – Sixty Minute Man

27. Clarence Carter – I Can’t Leave Your Love Alone

28. Clarence Carter Making Love (At The Dark End of the Street)

29. William Bell/Judy Clay – Private Number

30. Jimmy Holiday/Clydie King Ready, Willing and Able

31. Warren Storm – Tennessee Waltz

32. King Floyd – Let Us Be

33. King Floyd – Messin’ Up My Mind

34. Arthur Alexander – Without A Song

35. Arthur Alexander – In The Middle of it All

36. Freddie King – One Hundred Years

37. James Carr – Freedom Train

38. James Carr – These Ain’t Raindrops

39. James Carr – You’ve Got My Mind Messed Up

40. James Carr – The Dark End of the Street

41. Irmas Thomas – Coming From Behind/Wish Someone Would Care

42. Lee Dorsey/Betty Harris – Get Out of My Life, Woman

43. Darrell Banks – I Could Never Hate Her

44. Harold Andrews – You’re A Winner

45. Vernell Hill – Long Haired Daddy

46. Jerry Butler – Isle of Sirens

47. Cay Hammond – Take Your Time

48. Ann Peebles – I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down

49. Rozetta Johnson – Who Are You Gonna Love

50. The Pointer Sisters Don’t Try To Take The Fifth


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