Since May, we’ve been counting down Detroit’s 100 Greatest Songs, tallied from voting by thousands of music fans and hometown music experts.
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This breakout single is one of the few live recordings ever to top the Billboard pop charts.
The brisk strings were quintessentially Philly, but the vocals were pure Detroit, with lead singer Philippe Wynne and the girl-sweetened harmonies helping to create one of the definitive pop-soul singles of the 1970s.
Smokey Robinson was becoming a formidable song craftsman by the time of this Sam Cooke-inspired composition, a plaintive but playful number with a charming vocal rapport among Smokey and his group mates.
The myriad Detroit labels operating in the shadows of Motown during the ‘60s produced a treasure trove of soul gems.
This slick, brisk dance track — released on Karen Records — was among the most commercially successful, peaking at No. Kid Rock's nostalgic celebration of good times in northern Michigan got a musical assist from Warren Zevon's “Werewolves of London” and Lynyrd Skynyrd's “Sweet Home Alabama” to become a chart-topper around the globe.
Rock fans outside Michigan are often happily surprised to stumble onto Bob Seger's early Detroit output, exemplified by this driving, finger-snapping, bass-grooving piece of ferocity.
His vocals fueled by the spirit of soul shouters like Wilson Pickett, Seger tapped into his hometown's attachment to muscular soul-rock, and the single topped the local charts in the summer of '67.
The 22-year-old Seger had already scored some local radio success — most notably “East Side Story” and “Persecution Smith” — when unleashing this one with his band the Last Heard, featuring bassist Dan Honaker, guitarist Carl Lagassa and drummer Pep Perrine.
Still, broader success remained elusive, as the label Cameo-Parkway shut down that September, leaving Seger more than a year away from his national breakthrough, with “Ramblin' Gamblin' Man.” Smokey Robinson's reputation as one of popular music's finest songwriters was well established by the time of this peppy, endearing single.