The 10 Best '70s Throwback Jamz
Hey, does anyone feel like gettin' on up like a sex machine? Well, we do, and we think you should join us.
The music that emerged during the '70s is some of the very best, even now. Artists like Marvin Gaye and Michael Jackson were taking over the scene, oiled-up Jheri curls were all the rage, and that good ol' break-your-neck-on-the-dancefloor funk reigned supreme.
And while the '70s left us cleaning up a mess of glitter and disco lights, it also left us with a laundry list full of fantastic jamz that are just ripe for Throwback Thursday. Whether the songs are soulful and deep, or funkadelic and fancy-free; it matters not. What matters is that the songs from this era were some of the very best ever, and deserve a nod or two.
After all, one can't possibly ignore the calls of James Brown for too long. It's musical blasphemy.
10. "Get Up (I Feel Like Being a Sex Machine)," James Brown Is there anything more funkalicious than hearing James Brown announce that you should indeed get up (like a sex machine), while Bootsy and Catfish Collins bust out that demanding riff in the background? Basically, no. There's not. We're not entirely sure what constitutes a sex machine, but we're pretty sure you should get your booty on up and dance like one while this song is on.
9. "No Woman No Cry," Bob Marley & the Wailers Perhaps Marley's mellow, Rastafari voice won't demand that you funk it on out here, but he will help you ease on into some serious jammin'. It's a beautiful, soul-baring tune about life in the ghetto getting better eventually, and we love it about as much as Jamaicans love ganja. Bob Marley sure was fantastic, eh?
8. "Psycho Killer," Talking Heads What would a jamz list be without a little random New Wave thrown in for good measure? There's plenty of underlying funk in this little tune about, well, a serial killer, and the driving rhythm is about as good an earworm as any. Ultimately, all we can really say about "Psycho Killer" it's fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa far better than the competition, which is precisely why it's on this list. (Sorry, but sometimes cheesy shit is necessary.)
7. "Rapper's Delight," Sugarhill Gang "Rapper's Delight" kind of skirts the line between a '70s jam and an '80s jam, but it would be silly of us to write it off, considering it basically dragged hip-hop into the mainstream not only in America but around the world. Besides, it's a great jam with three freakin' versions -- one of which is 14:35 long -- and the Sugarhill Gang wins at life for that alone. To the hip, hop...
6. "Don't Stop Til You Get Enough," Michael Jackson This song is the King of Pop telling you not to stop until you get enough, while being all glittery and magical and shit. That alone makes it worthy of a Top 10 list.
5. "Superstition," Stevie Wonder Stevie Wonder was, is and will continue to be one of our favorites no matter what he does, but '70s-era Stevie ultimately wins our musical hearts every time because of songs like this. "Superstition," which is layered with clavinet-clad riffs, trumpet and sax blasts, and sticky drumbeats, is just beyond.
And while the interesting instrumental elements help elevate the song, they're only just a support system for what makes it truly a great jam. What ultimately tips "Superstition" into funk overdrive are Stevie's vocals. No one can belt out notes quite like Mr. Wonder.
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4. "Mary Jane," Rick James Rick James added a healthy does of heavy rock to that steadfast funkage back in '78, which led to not only what became his signature sound -- "punk-funk -- but also this little ditty. A wave of artists using those elements -- The Temptations and Smokey Robinson, for instance -- but no one did it quite like Rick James, bitch. We cannot resist the urge to bust out some seriously bad dance moves when we hear him belt out this ode to the sticky-icky, and you shouldn't either.
3. "Maggie May," Rod Stewart This tune, written about Rod Stewart's affair with an older woman, is the song that defined his career, and it was recorded in just a couple of sessions. Stewart's band didn't even have access to cymbals in the studio, so the famous crashing sound had to be overdubbed in the days following the recording session. We still think this lovelorn, ambivalent song about Maggie is perfect, no matter how it came together.
2. "Midnight Train To Georgia," Gladys Knight & the Pips Random fact: this uber-famous hit was initially recorded by another artist, Jim Weatherly, as "Midnight Plane to Houston," which is awesome and all, but hardly what makes us such a fan. What makes us adore this rendition is its soulful, unearthly sound. From Ms. Knight's velvet-covered vocals to the Pips' fantastic everything, it's everything one could ask for in a '70s jam.
1. "What's Going On," Marvin Gaye Everything about this song is right, from Marvin's ethereal vocals, which are so powerful in their understated, brilliant way, to its socially conscious message. There's so much to this tune -- it's one part soul, one part gospel, and a million parts mournful -- and we wouldn't change one single note.
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