DAR Retro: The 10 Greatest Soul Albums Of The 70's

By @TrueGodImmortal

We're going back in time for a moment. Just for a moment. Though I wasn't born in the 70's and neither was anyone from DAR itself, we still hold on to the albums and music from that epic decade. One thing that was relevant in music then was soul. The soul was largely embedded in the sound of the music and was without a doubt the driving force. Today, we want to look back at a list of the best soul albums from the 70's. From Marvin Gaye to Curtis Mayfield to Stevie Wonder and many more, take a trip down memory lane with us. Let's coast.

*Donny Hathaway- Extension of A Man

-Donny is in many ways the most underrated soul singer of all time. He captures the ear with his soul stirring vocals and his lyrical content speaks to someone who has gone through so much in their life. This album was one of my favorites because of songs like "Someday We'll All Be Free" and the extremely deep "Lord Help Me", as well as anthems like "The Slums" and "Come Little Children". This would be the last official solo album from Donny, but it is also his most prized creation musically. If you've never heard this album before, go to your music service and give it a listen. You won't be sorry.

*Smokey Robinson- A Quiet Storm 

-I feel like this is a slept on gem as well. There are other albums I'm sure that really could be on this list and truth me I have a ton of other albums I loved from the 70's, but the truth is, there's something about this album that sticks with me. Short and sweet, this 7 track opus features my favorite Smokey song in "The Agony And The Ecstasy" and another great track in "Love Letters". This album is soulful yet remorseful and smooth in the same vein. Smokey and his vocals carry this album even higher than expected. Another one to add to your playlist.

*Gil Scott Heron- Pieces of A Man

-One of the pivotal releases of the decade comes from the outspoken and revolutionary Gil Scott Heron. This album is something special. Recorded in just two days in April 1971, this album has some of the best music of the decade. From the epic and iconic "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised", the amazing sounds of "Lady Day and John Coltrane" to the jazzy yet soulful "Home Is Where The Hatred Is", we witnessed some of the most powerful music to come along and there's no way you can mention music of the 70's without giving Gil Scott his just due.

*Issac Hayes- The Issac Hayes Movement 

-Short albums were the norm in the 70's. This one had 4 long tracks and each track was an epic in its own right. While the album isn't necessarily the greatest thing Issac has been a part of it, this is my favorite of his. It's so well constructed and while it is a bit short, it leaves the listener wanting more and more after every track, a sign of an album that has something truly special. If you haven't heard this one, please do so.

*Marvin Gaye- Let's Get It On

-This is my personal favorite Marvin album and one of the all time greatest albums period. While Marvin was in this mode, he crafted some of his greatest music, the title track being one of them. Certainly, one could argue that this album is the real beginning of the seductive era of Marvin mixed in with his soulful personal era that catapulted his standing in the all time greats list. What makes this my favorite is tracks like "Just To Keep You Satisfied" and the impeccable "Distant Lover", and there's no weak or bad tracks here. Each song is a classic in its own right, and that's rare to find. Let's Get It On is easily one of the best albums of the 70's.

*Curtis Mayfield- Curtis 

-Now, we talked this album briefly on DAR before as Speed reviewed it with Superfly. Production on this album was top notch and songs like "The Makings Of You", which is my favorite Curtis song, and of course the socially aware "Miss Black America" and "We The People Who Are Darker Than Blue" are purely amazing. When you look for the magnum opus from Curtis, this is the one.

*Willie Hutch- The Mack 

-This soundtrack is hands down one of the most sampled albums ever and with good reason. Willie had a knack for crafting purely soulful tracks and with this premise behind it, the music flowed so beautifully from the classic "Brother Gonna Work It Out" track to the amazing "I Choose You", which is responsible for some greatest samples ever, and the song itself is so infectious. When I think of the 70's and great albums, this one comes to mind easily.

*Bill Withers- Still Bill 

-When we talk great soul singers, sometimes we tend to get Bill Withers lost in the mix. He's a legend and this is his best album. From the iconic "Lean On Me" to his well known hit "Use Me", and "I Don't Want You On My Mind", Bill created something unforgettable with this album and is very deserving of a spot on this list. Hands down.

*Stevie Wonder- Songs In the Key of Life 

-I debated between this one and Innervisions. Both albums are classics and very deserving of this list, but Songs In The Key of Life sticks out to me a bit more overall. Stevie was in a great creative space and when we hear songs like "Sir Duke", "Knocks Me Off My Feet", "Isn't She Lovely", and "As", they remind you of the type of genius that Stevie possesses and always will. How could you deny this album?

*Marvin Gaye- What's Going On 

-I honestly believe this is the greatest album of all time. It's timeless. Marvin was becoming more and more conscious of the world around him and this album was the result. It plays straight through with such a great vibe and such awareness that it never gets old. From "Flyin High" to "Save The Children", and of course "Mercy Mercy Me", this was without a doubt the best album on this list and one of the greatest of all time, if not the greatest.

Now, it's tricky talking the 10 best albums of any decade and it's tough to narrow it down, but these are my personal choices. Join the conversation with your own top 10 list of albums from the 70's below in the comments.



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