To commemorate this amazing genre, we have compiled a list of the greatest ever soul and Motown tracks. With a wealth of smash hits at our disposal, rest assured that choosing a top five was no easy feat. So, if you’re nodding in agreement, or think we’ve omitted an absolute classic, make sure you comment below.
1. Otis Redding – (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay
Nothing exudes summer quite like this gem, which was written by Redding while chilling on a rented houseboat in the picturesque surroundings of sunny California. The singer’s unmistakable dulcet tones accompany a soothing, yet simplistic, guitar riff to glorious effect. Put simply, one of the greatest soul tracks of all time. And don’t deny the urge; it’s impossible not to whistle along!
2. The Jackson 5 – I Want You Back
A guaranteed party starter courtesy of MJ et al. Released in 1969 with an eleven year-old Michael on lead vocals, the track raced to the top of the US charts and then went on to sell a whopping six million copies worldwide. Thanks to the undeniable groove of the song’s iconic bassline, it has remained a timeless hit for the Motown record label.
3. Martha and the Vandellas – Dancing in the Street
Penned by Marvin Gaye and pals, this song first became popular in 1964 when it was recorded by Martha and the Vandellas. Though famously covered by the super-collaboration of David Bowie and Mick Jagger, the bombastic original is still considered the best. The tune sees an elated Martha Reeves chirping over a brass fanfare – extending an open invitation to a non-stop shindig in the streets.
4. Bill Withers – Ain’t No Sunshine
From the get-go of this ageless hit, it’s more than obvious that Mr. Withers has quite the set of lungs on him. But what hits hardest is the man’s unbridled emotion as he rues a lost lover. This is one of soul music’s more wistful cuts but shows the utter power music can have when it tugs at the heartstrings. Now someone pass us a tissue please.
5. Stevie Wonder – Superstition
No list of Motown greats would be complete without the legendary Stevie Wonder – who composed, produced, arranged, and performed this 1972 disco favorite. Superstition is funk epitomized – resplendent with infectious slap bass, soaring trumpets and an unforgettable croon. A highlight from Stevie Wonder’s endless repertoire, this tune vividly showcases the artist’s boundless talents for the whole wide world to hear.