I believe I can speak for the old school crew when it comes to the music.
We came up during the era of Parliament to Earth, Wind & Fire, all the way to The Dazz Band
to Midnight Star.
So many folks continue to clamor for the great classic, old school R&B, and throwback funk jams that kept them on the dance floor,
With that said, here’s 20 Soul Music Classics You NEED On Your Playlist in 2022…. Let’s Go!!
1. When Love Calls by Atlantic Starr: Shout out to my main man Stormy Rockwell for his breakdown on his list for Atlantic Starr. From 1980’s “Radiant” LP, This jam is the kick off jam from this album, that put the first lady of Atlantic Starr, Sharon Bryant, in the forefront to showcase her voice more. Credit the genius of legendary producer
James Anthony Carmichael for this one here. Put this one on your heavy rotation.
2. Lady by D’Angelo: Whether you have the live version of this cut, or the album cut from the legendary LP “Brown Sugar”, one can definitely say that this cut puts you in that chill, yet steppers mode when you hit the dance floor. Richmond, VA, stand up! This jam still sounds fresh, 27 years after its release. Go ‘head D’Angelo!!
3. You Sure Love To Ball by Marvin Gaye: Marvelous Marvin’s “Let’s Get It On” LP will officially be 50 years old in 2023, yet it continues to age well, no matter the decade. This jam is one of the stand out cuts from that LP. It’s perhaps the most sensual of all the cuts that is on this album. There have been many remakes of this jam (check Con Funk Shun, Fred Wesley & The JB’s, L. J. Reynolds, etc.), yet the original is a must have for all of you steppers, and slow jam, lovers out there.
4. If You Think You’re Lonely Now by Bobby Womack: Man, it’s coming up on 8 years sing “The Poet” has left us. Yet, his musical legacy is still forever etched in our memories. This
jam, from his comeback LP, “The Poet”, is 40 years old, and it still gets many a glass of brown liquor poured into some Solo cups with a little bit of Coca-Cola chasing it down when this jam comes on. You’d better have this one in the stacks.
5. Cause I Love You by Lenny Williams: Wait a minute soul music fans. You mean to tell me that you don’t have this one in your stacks? If you don’t, you’d better get on over to your nearest digital platform, or even your brick & mortar, and get you some Lenny. The LP “Spark Of Love” from 1978, is absolutely Legendary Lenny’s reemergence into the R&B/Soul music landscape after he left the equally legendary band, Tower Of Power. Cause I Love You has become a staple love jam, a jam that has lasted throughout 5 generations of folks. And, at 77 years young, Legendary Lenny is still entertaining the folks with the classics, and his latest jams here in the new millennium. 1 Love Lenny!!
6. Aiming At Your Heart by The Temptations: Now, I know you’re going to ask me, why this one by The Tempts Ty Cool? Here’s why family. This is one of those comeback cuts by The Temptations when they returned to Motown. Yes, we
know that David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks were gone. Yet, the underrated Richard Street and Glenn Leonard helped hold the pocket down perfectly. When we throw in the gritty Dennis Edwards, and the ever present Melvin Franklin and Otis Williams (aka The Leader), things melded just right. Aiming At Your Heart is a sure fire couples jam that can be played at your cookout or your house party. No matter the time, this 41- year old cut has continued to hold its own.
7. Living For The Love Of You by Whitney Houston: There are many a Whitney Houston jams we can have right here. This one, is a sure fire standout. Out of the many remakes of The Isley Brothers songs, this is one of the ones that truly nailed it. Whitney took this jam, and simply made it her own. The magical sax of Kenny G blaring through in the opening notes helps set the tone for the rest of the song. It’s breezy, it’s fun, and simply, another one for the couples to step to out there, 35 years and counting.
8. Chocolate Girl by The Whispers: Yes indeed, one of their many classics. The Whispers can make you fall in love, no
matter the season or the generation. Their music is a staple in everybody’s household, even in 2022. The LP, “Open Up Your Love”, turns 45 years old this year, and “Chocolate Girl” is one of the many gems on this LP that continues to find itself on many quiet storm formats. It also continues to find itself in many of our hearts as well. Like many slow jams of its day, “Chocolate Girl” was never released as a single. Yet, and still, it finds itself standing the test of time, all the while celebrating the beauty of all of the chocolate beauties worldwide.
9. Lady In My Life by Michael Jackson: Do we really need an introduction here? That’s what I thought. From the largest selling album of all time, “Thriller”, from 1982, “Lady In My Life” needs no further explanation. Talk about a love jam that speaks to lovers who’ve weathered a many a storm to make it to the other side, this jams tells it from front to back, 40 years later and counting.
10. Til The End Of Time by Starpoint: One of the R&B bands of the 80’s, Starpoint needs to get their flowers. This cut, from the smash LP “Restless”, brought Starpoint more
into the national spotlight. The timeless “Object Of My Desire” is the lead cut from this album, yet “Til The End Of Time” is another of those quiet storm classics that one cannot get enough of. Even now, 37 years later, “Til The End Of Time” still is a cut one must have in their ready rotation.
11. Someday Is Tonight by Janet Jackson: Oh, you guys thought we wouldn’t have any Janet in this list right? Well, we have you covered. This jam right here, needed to have been released as a single on its own. Yes, call this another one for the quiet storm rotation. Taken from “Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814” in 1989, this jam still lends its ear to that righteous sensual seduction. No need to explain this one any further, just put it on and let it play.
12. Love Of My Life by Brian McKnight: This brother, Brian McKnight, has been consistent since he debuted in 1989, and hasn’t stopped since. This cut comes from the LP “Superhero” in 2001. What a great video, and definitely, what a great jam for those special occasions. “Love Of My Life” is for sure at the top of many list of Brian McKnight
slow jams, and 21 years later, has definitely aged to its own perfection.
13. The Answer Is You by Phyllis Hyman: There will never be another Phyllis Hyman. Let’s say that again: There will never be another Phyllis Hyman! Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out, let’s ride. It’s been 27 years since she left us, yet Phyllis Hyman’s voice, elegance, and vocal style is still in the hearts and minds of many. In her music, you can see the many styles that come into play. On this jam, from the “Somewhere In My Lifetime” LP from 1978, Phyllis comes through with some of her finest work. “The Answer Is You” speaks to the missing person in that relationship who was needed all along. Spin this one from the top on your slow jam excursion.
14. You Like Me, Don’t You by Jermaine Jackson: Yes, one can say that Jermaine Jackson should’ve been bigger than he was. However, that is to say that Jermaine wasn’t no slouch when putting together quality songs. This 1981 cut was another top 20 hit for Jermaine, and still has staying power in the time of right now, having a rebirth as a duet
with young songstress Danielle Fiers. What more can we say? Have the original, and the remix, at your disposal family.
15. So Fine by Howard Johnson: Produced by the late, great Kashif (who’s also on this list), “So Fine” is the lead cut from the LP “Keepin’ Love New” from 1982. Although it failed to hit the BillBoard Hot 100, “So Fine” did make it to number #6 on the R&B chart, and number 1 on Dance chart, while also peaking at #45 on the UK chart. Talk about a timeless jam, right? Howard Johnson is one of the coolest and most down to earth artists around, and he’s still going strong. “So Fine” turns 40 next month, and we definitely hope that there’s a deluxe edition of the song, and album on deck. Salute Howard Johnson!!
16. Stone Love by Kashif: This brother does not get his just due. It’s been 6 years since Kashif left, but he didn’t leave without having made his mark in R&B/Soul music. Starting out as the youngest member of the underrated band B. T. Express, Kashif would go solo, and end up making his solo debut in 1983 with his self-titled LP. Of the many great
jams that are on this album, “Stone Love” is one of the great dance floor fillers, and is included in plenty of R&B mixes from this dj to many others worldwide. Put this one on your “to-do list” family.
17. Reasons (Live) by Earth, Wind & Fire: Yeah, we know. Some still prefer the album version of this timeless jam. Yet, upon further review, the overwhelming majority clamor for the live version hands down. We can’t make this up, it’s definitely true. From 1975’s “Gratitude” LP, the live version of this timeless jam is incredible. For those that do not know, “Gratitude” is a half live, half studio album. It was done while the band was hitting its stride with their tours back in the day, so they made the mad dash to put this album together to help keep their momentum going. I bet that they didn’t know that this album would become a must have, and that the live version of “Reasons” would be fire almost 50 years and counting. The play between Philip Bailey and Don Myrick on the alto horn is still genius. You all better have this one in your stash.
18. All This Love by DeBarge: Another jam that joins the 40-plus club this year. Yours truly was only 8 years old when this jam hit, and it still sticks to the ribs. Of all of their LPs, “All This Love” is a journey of an album in, and of, itself. The song itself, peaked at #78 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1983, peaked at #7 on the Adult Contemporary chart for Billboard, and has remained a steady jam in rotation since then. You better have this one, with no delay.
19. That Girl by Stevie Wonder: There are plethora of Stevie Wonder jams that we can fit right here. When you really look at, Stevie Wonder’s catalogue of music can read like a “must-have” by itself. I’m just saying family, I’m just saying. Anyway, let’s continue. This jam never grows old. Released in the fall of 1981, and spending nine weeks at number one on the Billboard R&B singles chart, while topping out at number four on the Billboard Hot 100, “That Girl” became another in the arsenal of grooving, yet profound, love jams that Stevie Wonder can bring out at a moment’s notice. 1 Love to the Natural Wonder himself.
20. I Call Your Name by Switch: When you stop and look, there were some great songs that came out of 1979, and “I Call Your Name” by Switch is one of those songs. From the LP “Switch II”, the original 6 of Gregg Williams, Bobby & Tommy DeBarge (yep, same as above y’all. LOL), Philip Ingram (younger brother of the late, great, James Ingram), Eddie Fluellen, and Jody Sims, made their indelible impact on the music world the previous year with the classic ballad “There’ll Never Be.” What would they do for an encore? I’m glad you asked. Switch came back and hit another home run with their second classic “I Call Your Name.” This jam has been sampled countless of times, yet the original jam has continued to be often requested, no matter the radio station format. You cannot go wrong with Switch, no matter what your mood is.
Now, with all of this written and said, many of you out there are going to have your questions about many other records that were omitted from this list. I say to you, family, stay tuned. There will be a part 2 to this. In 2022, we have found that many of you, young and old, are clamoring for the old
school/true school jams. Yes, even in the time of right now, folks are still listening to jams from the 70s, 80s & 90s, and we’re not talking about just the mainstream hits. Folks are craving the old school rare grooves that were played, yet slipped through the cracks for one reason or another. We keep striving forward, yet it’s wonderful to have these great jams running on rotation as we go. Til the next go ‘round, we’ll see you on the other side. 1 Love
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