100 Must Have R&B Songs

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Classic Soul Radio 100 Must Have R&B Recordings

Rhythm & Blues is a term used to describe the blues-influenced form of music predominantly performed by African-Americans since the late 1930s. The term “Rhythm and Blues” was first introduced into the American lexicon in the late 1940s: The name’s origin was created for use as a musical marketing term by Billboard magazine. In 1949, then-Billboard magazine reporter Jerry Wexler (who later went on to become a music producer) created the term for Billboard to designate upbeat popular music performed by African American artists that combined Blues and Jazz.

The “Rhythm & Blues” term was created to replace the designation “race music,” which until then was the standard catch-all phase used in reference to most music made by blacks at the time. After the “race music” term was deemed offensive, Billboard began using the Rhythm & Blues name that Wexler created.

The meaning behind the name is this: the “rhythm”part comes from the music’s typical dependence upon four-beat measures or bars and employs a backbeat (beats two and four accented in each measure). The “blues” portion came from the lyrics and melodies of the songs, which were often sad or “blue” during the music’s emergence in the World War II era. Over time the name was shortened to R&B as a matter of convenience.

By the 1970s, rhythm and blues was being used as a blanket term to describe soul and funk as well. Today, the term can be used to loosely define most African-American urban music, even though soul and funk can be placed in categories of their own.


100 R&B Recordings You Should Have In Your Collection

Here is our compilation of the top 100 R&B songs of all time. This list is in no particular order. Which ones do you have? Which have we missed or left out? Comment below. Hope you like and enjoy the selection! Click on the iTunes icon beside each song to listen to a preview of the song, or to purchase the song from the iTunes store. Remember, each time you make a purchase through our web site, you help support Classic Soul Radio, a registered not-for-profit organization. We thank you for your patronage and support!

  1. My Girl – Temptations iTunes
  2. Respect – Aretha Franklin iTunes
  3. You Make Me Feel Brand New – The Stylistics iTunes
  4. What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye iTunes
  5. Let’s Get It On – Marvin Gaye iTunes
  6. A Change Is Gonna Come – Sam Cooke iTunes
  7. Let’s Stay Together – Al Green iTunes
  8. Just To Be Close To You – The Commodores iTunes
  9. Stay in My Corner – Dells iTunes
  10. Reasons – Earth Wind & Fire iTunes
  11. Love is the Message – MFSB iTunes
  12. Midnight Train to Georgia – Gladys Knight & the Pips iTunes
  13. La La Means I Love You – Delfonics iTunes
  14. Hypnotized – Linda Jones iTunes
  15. I Do Love You – Billy Stewart iTunes
  16. Always And Forever – Heatwave iTunes
  17. If You Don’t Know Me By Now – Harold Melvin And The Bluenotes iTunes
  18. If You Think You’re Lonely Now – Bobby Womack iTunes
  19. Forever Mine – The O’Jays iTunes
  20. House is Not a Home – Luther Vandross iTunes
  21. Say It Loud – James Brown iTunes
  22. Doin’ It to Death – Fred Wesley & the JBs iTunes
  23. When a Man Loves a Woman – Percy Sledge iTunes
  24. Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now – McFadden & Whitehead iTunes
  25. Dock of the Bay – Otis Redding iTunes
  26. Ain’t No Way – Aretha Franklin iTunes
  27. At Last – Etta James iTunes
  28. The Tracks Of My Tears – Miracles iTunes
  29. Stand by Me – Ben E. King iTunes
  30. Aint Too Proud To Beg – Temptations iTunes
  31. Me & Mrs. Jones – Billy Paul iTunes
  32. Love and Happiness – Al Green iTunes
  33. Please, Please, Please – James Brown & the Famous Flames iTunes
  34. Just My Imagination – Temptations iTunes
  35. For Your Precious Love – Jerry Butler & the Impressions iTunes
  36. Sitting in the Park – Billy Stewart iTunes
  37. Function at the Junction – Shorty Long iTunes
  38. Sexual Healing – Marvin Gaye iTunes
  39. For the Love of Money – O’Jays iTunes
  40. Soul Man – Sam & Dave iTunes
  41. You Send Me – Sam Cooke iTunes
  42. Girl You Need a Change of Mind – Eddie Kendricks iTunes
  43. My Guy – Mary Wells iTunes
  44. I Only Have Eyes for You – Flamingos iTunes
  45. Sex Machine – James Brown iTunes
  46. Still Water (Love) – Four Tops iTunes
  47. Sideshow – Blue Magic iTunes
  48. I Heard It Through the Grapevine – Marvin Gaye iTunes
  49. It’s A Man’s Man’s World – James Brown iTunes
  50. As – Stevie Wonder iTunes
  51. Back Stabbers – O’Jays iTunes
  52. People Get Ready – Impressions iTunes
  53. Bring It on Home to Me – Sam Cooke iTunes
  54. Hold On I’m Coming – Sam & Dave iTunes
  55. What Becomes of the Broken Hearted – Jimmy Ruffin iTunes
  56. Always Together – Dells iTunes
  57. Do Right Woman Do Right Man – Aretha Franklin iTunes
  58. I’ve Been Loving You too Long – Otis Redding iTunes
  59. Distant Lover (live) – Marvin Gaye iTunes
  60. Ain’t Understanding Mellow – Jerry Butler & Brenda Lee Eager iTunes
  61. The Love We Had – Dells iTunes
  62. Kiss and Say Goodbye – Manhattans iTunes
  63. Cold Sweat – James Brown iTunes
  64. Shotgun – Jr. Walker & the All Stars iTunes
  65. Up On The Roof – Drifters iTunes
  66. Inner City Blues – Marvin Gaye iTunes
  67. I’ll Always Love My Mama – Intruders iTunes
  68. A Natural Woman – Aretha Franklin iTunes
  69. World of Fantasy – 5 Stairsteps iTunes
  70. Soul Finger – Barkays iTunes
  71. Mighty Love – Spinners iTunes
  72. Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag – James Brown iTunes
  73. Proud Mary – Ike & Tina Turner iTunes
  74. I’m So Proud – Main Ingredient iTunes
  75. The Love I Lost – Blue Notes iTunes
  76. Tell It Like It Is – Aaron Neville iTunes
  77. Summer Madness – Kool & the Gang iTunes
  78. Neither One of Us – Gladys Knight & the Pips iTunes
  79. Walk Away from Love – David Ruffin iTunes
  80. By the Time I Get to Phoenix – Isaac Hayes iTunes
  81. Stubborn Kind of Fellow – Marvin Gaye with the Vandellas iTunes
  82. Oh What a Night (1969 version) – Dells iTunes
  83. Sad Girl – Jay Wiggins iTunes
  84. If I Were Your Woman – Gladys Knight & the Pips iTunes
  85. These Arms of Mine – Otis Redding iTunes
  86. Natural High – Bloodstone iTunes
  87. It’s A New Day – James Brown iTunes
  88. I’d Rather Go Blind – Etta James iTunes
  89. Georgia On My Mind – Ray Charles iTunes
  90. Stairway to Heaven – O’Jays iTunes
  91. Rainbow ’65 – Gene Chandler iTunes
  92. Cause I Love You – Lenny Williams iTunes
  93. Where Is the Party – Helena Ferguson iTunes
  94. Before I Let Go – Frankie Beverly & Maze iTunes
  95. Billie Jean – Michael Jackson iTunes
  96. I Heard It Through the Grapevine – Gladys Knight & the Pips iTunes
  97. I Never Loved a Man – Aretha Franklin iTunes
  98. Make Me Yours – Bettye Swann iTunes
  99. For the Love of You – Isley Brothers iTunes
  100. One Nation under a Groove – Funkadelic iTunes


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