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Cover Story

The 100 greatest Detroit songs ever!

Picking the top tracks of the Motor City

MT Photo by: Leni Sinclair
Marvin Gaye
MT Photo by: Doug Coombe
Iggy Pop
MT Photo by: Charlie Auringer
Bob Seger
MT Photo by: Doug Coombe
Derrick May
MT Photo by: Doug Coombe
White Stripes
MT Photo by: Charlie Auringer
Detroit
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Your Top Songs
In the end, our Top 100 list was simply about having fun and picking our favorite music. Want to get in on the kicks? Here's your chance to kick in your two cents on what Detroit tracks are tops.

Hyper hits
Linking to the stories behind the songs

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Published 11/21/2007

Our original thought was just to compile a list of the best lists that have appeared in Blender, Rolling Stone, Q, MOJO, etc. over the past five years. Seriously, though, no one's yet done a "Best of Detroit," as far as we can tell, so, hell, why not?

There really was no science to our methodology. In fact, there was no real methodology at all. We simply asked some Detroit music experts for their lists; some got back to us, some didn't. The guidelines were expanded to include southeastern Michigan so that Flint, Grand Rapids, Saginaw, etc., were included. (Hey, if you were doing an L.A. list, you'd have to include Pasadena and Hawthorne — or else no Van Halen and Beach Boys. Same thing ...) "Best" is totally subjective and fairly open-ended, of course, though some of the factors we asked voters to take into account included the song's impact and "pure spine-tingling quality." Sales were a little important but not as important as impact (did someone say "Stooges"?).

The song didn't have to have been recorded in Detroit (or Michigan), but it did have to be associated with Detroit by an artist/group/band whose sound was/is rooted in Michigan. Some caveats: Although Bill Haley was born in the Detroit area, "Rock Around The Clock" is hardly associated with Michigan. "The Twist" didn't make the list because although Hank Ballard's from the Motor City, that song (and dance) is tied closer to Philadelphia (and Chubby Checker) in the national consciousness. And songs about Michigan recorded by non-area artists (i.e., KISS or Lefty Frizell) were ineligible.

After Brian Smith came up with the concept, we realized in retrospect that we probably should have streamlined it. Perhaps limited it to the pop-rock market or songs created after WWII (thereby explaining why no Della Reese songs are here). Oh, well. Too late now. We also discovered that we could have filled one-quarter of the list with nothing but Temptations songs. Or Stevie Wonder. Or Marvin Gaye, the Supremes, etc., etc. Someone even suggested we eliminate Motown candidates altogether due to unfair competition. (Can you imagine the angry letters that would have generated?)

In the end, though, it was simply fun. And we all learned a few trivia tidbits (did you know, for instance, that Fatboy Slim got the riff for "The Rockafeller Skank" from the obscure "Sliced Tomatoes" by Detroit's Just Brothers?). This is simply our list of favorites in the end. We want to see your lists ... and we've created a space at metrotimes.com for you to do just that. When I sent a second e-mail to the judges telling them they couldn't bitch if they didn't vote, Dave Marsh responded: "Good luck enforcing that!" So go ahead and bitch ... and enjoy! —Bill Holdship, music editor


1 "What's Going On" Marvin Gaye (Tamla) 1971

Berry Gordy didn't want to release this, deeming it "uncommercial." The Motown chief finally relented when Gaye — who co-wrote it with Four Top Renaldo "Obie" Benson and Motown in-house songwriter Al Cleveland — threatened to permanently stop recording. His determination not only paved the way for black artists to pursue more personal and sociopolitical songwriting agendas, but along with Stevie Wonder's "emancipation," it changed Motown's whole game. Reaching No. 2 on the pop and No. 1 on the R&B charts, the song is as relevant and poignant today as it was the day it was written. (BH)


2 "Living for the City" Stevie Wonder (Tamla) 1973

Another sociopolitical zinger, it describes ghetto life as aptly as any ever written. Although Wonder — who's never sounded angrier — set the story in Mississippi and NYC, it could just as easily be describing life for many African-Americans in the Motor City. The song (which reached No. 8 on the pop and No. 1 on the R&B charts) had to be edited from seven-and-a-half to a little more than three minutes for radio airplay. But Ray Charles sang the whole thing when he covered it, joining a list of artists that would eventually range from Ramsey Lewis to the Dirtbombs. (BH)


3 "96 Tears" Question Mark & the Mysterians (Cameo) 1966

When Rudy Martinez and his Hispanic buddies created this classic (originally "69 Tears" — reason for change obvious!) in Saginaw, they basically invented garage rock; Dave Marsh coined the term "punk rock" in CREEM to describe these guys. It made "cheesy" organ one of the form's primary instruments; somewhere the Elvis Costello of This Year's Model was taking notes. Picked up from a small indie label for national distribution, the song went to No. 1 on the charts. Covered by the Stranglers, Eddie & the Hot Rods, Garland Jeffreys, Iggy and Aretha Franklin, among numerous others ... but the original is still the best. (BH)


4 "No Fun" The Stooges (Elektra) 1969

Marsh could've just as easily used this song to coin the "punk rock" label. There are numerous songs on that first album to choose from, but this grinding ode to boredom and self-hate gets the nod — not only because it best encapsulates the band's mood and minimalist aesthetic and not only because the Sex Pistols recorded it ... but also because it includes one of the greatest lines in punk rock history: "Maybe go out, maybe stay home, maybe call Mom on the telephone." Hated by mainstream rockers at the time but now considered legendary on an international level. (BH)


5 "Boogie Chillen" John Lee Hooker (Modern) 1948

Hooker moved to Detroit in 1942, looking for auto factory work. He was working as a janitor at Chrysler, taking in the sights and sounds of the black clubs on Hastings Street, when he created this track. Recorded at Detroit's United Sound Studios, an L.A. label released it nationally, eventually taking it to No. 1 on the R&B charts. Some make a case for it as the first rock song. Whatever the case, it was a call-to-party anthem for blacks in the '50s, hippies in the '60s, and heavy metal kidz (via Led Zeppelin) in the '70s and beyond. (BH)


6 "Runaway" Del Shannon (Big Top) 1961

It's one of the most beloved songs in pop history, but Del Shannon (born Charles Westover) was still working a day job, playing with bands at nights, in Coopersville (near Grand Rapids) when he created this No. 1 hit. Country fan Shannon borrowed the chord progression from Hank Williams' "Kaw Liga" before co-writer and keyboardist Max Crook added his proto-synthesizer Musitron solo, giving the track its otherworldly quality. Used in one of the most memorable scenes in American Graffiti and covered by countless greats, from Bonnie Raitt to the Misfits to Elvis Presley, who sang it nightly during his 1969-'70 Las Vegas comeback shows. (BH)


7 "I'm Eighteen" Alice Cooper (Warner Bros.) 1971

The band was living on a Detroit-area ranch when CKLW began playing this Bob Ezrin-produced garage-glam-punk trailblazer. The rest of the world soon caught on and rock 'n' roll was henceforth altered ("I'm Eighteen," in fact, was the song Johnny Rotten used to audition for the Sex Pistols). If you listen closely, the song's an ear-bending snapshot of teen torment that's literate and littered with slinky subtext — its deliberate pace, ascending guitar and bass lines lend a weird tension to this anthem. That a song this smart and deceptively ironic, housed in Alice's glam couture, should tousle the American Top 40 is a testament to the Motor City. (BS)


8 "Will You, Won't You, Be My Babe" McKinney's Cotton Pickers (Victor) 1929

It's 1929 in Detroit. Jobs a-plenty, booze flowing in every direction ... all to the rhythm of hot jazz, America's theme music. With several notable exceptions, few jazzers explored the lyrical side of the beat. But McKinney's Cotton Pickers, imported from Ohio in 1927, developed a sound in Detroit that was on the cutting edge of the still-young art form. They had a beat you couldn't ignore and choice arrangements, including this very pretty tune featuring captivating solos. It was sweet ... and hot, too, capturing the other side of the '20s frenetic lifestyle and adding to Detroit's growing rep as a music town. (JG)


9 "Love Child" The Supremes (Motown) 1968

Naysayers may complain that the first Supremes cut here isn't one written and produced by Holland-Dozier-Holland, responsible for all the group's previous classics. Some may argue that the track — recorded in Hitsville USA's Studio A — wasn't really a Supremes song but Diana Ross backed by session singers. Nevertheless, composed by Gordy's newest conglomeration of writers, the Clan, it was the grittiest thing the group ever did and gets extra points for sociological lyrical content (the then-controversial subject of illegitimacy) — a true rarity for Motown's ultimate pop crossover act. It also took them back to No. 1, replacing the Beatles' "Hey Jude." (BH)


10 "Kick Out the Jams" The MC5 (Elektra) 1969

Someone suggested this should be Detroit's national anthem ... and that ain't so far from the truth. As notorious at the time for Rob Tyner's "Kick out the jams, motherfucker!" battle cry as for the raw music itself, the song was actually a challenge to other bands that weren't nearly as dynamic. It eventually became synonymous with the '60s ethos of revolution. The controversy didn't prevent it from reaching No. 30, although its influence wouldn't be truly felt until a decade later. Unclassifiable at the time, the group would eventually be considered forebears of both punk and heavy metal. Oh, yeah, and fuck Hudson's! (BH)


11 "The Wind" Nolan Strong & the Diablos (Fortune) 1954

Appropriately atmospheric, absolutely ethereal ballad; sung to perfection — in skyscraping falsetto — by Barrett Strong's cousin and cohorts. (Covered by New York City vocal group the Jesters in 1960 and the combined talents of Laura Nyro and Labelle in 1971, but neither comes within kissin' distance of the original.) The Diablos were longtime Detroit legends, hitting locally with the guitar-driven "Mind Over Matter" as late as '62, with Strong's distinctive vocal style echoed in everyone from Smokey Robinson to Michael Jackson. (DW)


12 "Smokin' in the Boys Room" Brownsville Station (Big Tree) 1973

Formed in Ann Arbor in 1969, Brownsville Station was popular on the local scene before achieving national fame with this archetypal teenage anthem of rebellion. Reaching No. 3 on the charts and selling more than 2 million copies, it ended up being a one-hit wonder, although Mötley Crüe would cover it nearly two decades later, scoring its first Top 40 hit. R.E.M. also covered it onstage during the mid-'80s, and the Crickets did the same in Hollywood two years ago. We're certain late great songwriter and rock historian Cub Koda would've loved hearing his tune performed by Buddy Holly's old band! (BH)


13 "Devil With a Blue Dress On/Good Golly Miss Molly" Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels (Dynovoice) 1966

After renaming Billy Lee & the Rivieras, producer Bob Crewe took them Top 10 with a single that combined "CC Rider" with Little Richard's "Jenny Take a Ride." Deciding to repeat the formula, they paired "Devil With a Blue Dress" — a regional hit for Shorty Long on Motown's Soul label (although Ryder, one of history's greatest blue-eyed shouters, sped it waaay up) — with another Little Richard classic. They reached No. 4, creating a sonic boom forever associated with our fair city. Bruce Springsteen would use all four songs as an encore, titling it "Detroit Medley," for years to come. (BH)


14 "The Way I Walk" Jack Scott (Top Rank) 1959

As Berry Gordy once said: "Jack Scott started it all for Detroit." Indeed, he was the first Motor City rocker to scale the national charts. Possessing a moody baritone versatile enough to pull off both otherworldly ballads and relentless rockers, he was one song shy of completing his debut album at United Sound Studio when he came up with "The Way I Walk" off the top of his head. Seething with cool, flippant attitude and all greasy JD swagger, it was later covered by both Robert Gordon and the Cramps (one listen to the lyrics should tell you why). (MH)


15 "Please Mr. Postman" The Marvelettes (Tamla) 1961

The first No. 1 pop hit to come out of Hitsville USA, it set the mold for the girl group model that would become one of the label's mainstays. Covered by the Beatles during their Cavern Club days, it would be transformed into a power-pop classic on the Fab Four's second album. Martin Scorsese memorably used the Marvelettes' version as the soundtrack to the bar fight in Mean Streets. The song reached No. 1 again in early 1975 via a rather balls-less cover by the Carpenters. More recently, it's been sampled by rappers Juan Santana and Lil' Wayne. (BH)


16 "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" Gladys Knight & the Pips (Soul) 1967

Putting the lie to the myth that Motown's records were somehow less soulful than those waxed at Stax/Volt in Memphis, this was Berry Gordy & company's — or, at least, producer and co-writer (with Barrett Strong) Norman Whitfield's — response to Aretha Franklin's version of "Respect." (The song was originally a Miracles album track and Marvin Gaye's moody, brooding version was actually recorded — but remained unreleased — until after the Pips' hit.) Though Motown's then-unsung sessionmen certainly earn their Funk Brothers nickname, you gotta love how the Pips' harmonies try to box Gladys in at every turn — and how she never lets 'em. (DW)


17 "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell (Tamla) 1967

Terrell was the best of Gaye's female vocal partners (Mary Wells, Kim Weston, and Diana Ross were the others) and this soaring, slicker-than-snakes duet eclipses all the rest. But the jaw-dropping, utterly explosive bass playing from now-legendary Motown session stalwart James Jamerson — this might be his finest moment — would be reason enough for this flipped disc to make the list. Let's hear you nail it on the first take ... (DW)


18 "No UFO's" Model 500 (Metroplex) 1985

While Juan Atkins' earlier tracks ("Clear," "Alleys of Your Mind" and "Cosmic Cars"), produced with Richard Davis via the group Cybotron, laid the groundwork for Detroit techno, it was this raw, weird and funky slab of futuristic music that was the real shape of things to come. Grandmaster Flash, Prince and Depeche Mode reimagined, retooled and compressed into four-plus minutes that surge and sizzle in all the right places, it's hard to believe this was released 22 years ago. (WW)


19 "Out of This World" Gino Washington (Amon) 1963

"Gino Is a Coward" might be a favorite of Bruce Springsteen — who covered it on his Tunnel of Love tour — but you cannot argue with a song entitled "Out of this World," particularly when it is precisely that. The combination of white garage band Jeff & the Atlantics exploding behind a bombastic black soul singer (who borrowed from Berry Gordy's "Money" for a line here) was a match made in rock 'n' roll heaven. A cultural crossroad that brought the myriad threads of Detroit music to a boiling point, complete with the Rochelles — later Tony Orlando's Dawn — delivering irresistibly fervent backing vocals. (MH)


20 "Cloud Nine" The Temptations (Gordy) 1968

Heavily influenced by Sly & the Family Stone — and picking up 16 tons of bonus points for Barrett Strong's unapologetically escapist lyrics ("Depressed and down-hearted, I took to Cloud Nine/And I'm doin' fine ... on Cloud Nine!") — this, along with the equally gimlet-eyed "Papa Was a Rolling Stone," is the acid-tipped, "psychedelicized" peak of the Temptations' five-lead-voices incarnation. (DW)


21 "Misery" The Dynamics (Big Top) 1963

When the Who were still called the High Numbers and scrounging around for material for their first single, they simply pilfered two American hits and changed the lyrics rather than writing anything original. Slim Harpo's "Got Love If You Want It" became "I'm the Face," and the Dynamics' "Misery" became "Zoot Suit." Originally from Dearborn, the Dynamics were a Detroit favorite whose garage-style take on doowop and soul has proved enduring. While rock 'n' roll fans the world over still love "Misery," which sounds like absolutely nothing else (despite the Brit cover), only true Who devotees recall "Zoot Suit." (MH)


22 "The Tears of a Clown" Smokey Robinson & the Miracles (Tamla) 1970

A circus-organ hook and some of Robinson's slickest lyrics ("Just like Pagliacci did/I try to keep my surface hid") highlight what was originally a throwaway 1967 album track. When Bob Dylan called Smokey Robinson "America's greatest living poet," a lot of people thought that was some kinda joke. (It wasn't.) Co-written by Stevie Wonder and Hank Cosby, this pumping, propulsively, perpetually circular — like wheels turning inside of wheels — number was cooly covered by UK ska revivalists the English Beat in 1980. (DW)


23 "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" Jimmy Ruffin (Soul/Motown) 1966

Many consider it the definitive Motown soul single. It's certainly one of the grandest productions (via William Weatherspoon, who co-wrote it, and William "Mickey" Stevenson) to come out of West Grand Boulevard's Studio A. The song was originally intended for the Spinners, but Jimmy Ruffin, older brother of the Temptations' David, convinced the producers to let him record it instead. It turned out to be a one-hit wonder for the singer, reaching No. 7 — but what a one-hit wonder it was! It remains one of the label's most revived songs, including Joan Osborne's glorious finale in the Funk Brothers documentary. (BH)


24 "The Hucklebuck" Paul Williams (Savoy) 1949

Before "The Twist," the definitive Detroit-rooted dance craze was Paul Williams' suggestively titled "The Hucklebuck." The R&B hit regenerated itself in wave after wave of subsequent versions by everyone from Bo Diddley to Count Basie, Frank Sinatra to Ralph Kramden (in a Honeymooners episode). Arguably, "the earliest instance of the crossover that became a pop phenomenon in the 1954-56 period and that spelled the end of R&B as a segregated music," said music historian Arnold Shaw. Lyrics came later; the original was a bluesy big-band vehicle for Williams. Jazzbos heard Charlie Parker's 1945 "Now's the Time" slowed for dance-floor salaciousness. Williams argued otherwise. Did folks on the floor care? (WKH)


25 "Respect" Aretha Franklin (Atlantic) 1967

Aretha was already on a roll when she went into the studio on Valentine's Day 1967. Raised on gospel (influential preacher Rev. C.L. Franklin was her father, giants such as Mahalia Jackson were family friends), she'd spent six moderately successful years at Columbia, largely in a Dinah Washington mold. Her first Atlantic hit, "I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You," smashed the mold with a new funkier, gospel-hued sound (backed by the Muscle Shoals rhythm section). Now she upped the tempo (and the ante) with the 1965 Otis Redding tune she'd been transforming on the road, creating an anthem of the time. Civil rights, black power, feminism; when she spelled out R-E-S-P-E-C-T, she spoke for legions. (WKH)


26 "War" Edwin Starr (Gordy) 1970

Asking and answering the timeless question ("War! What is it good for? Absolutely nothin'!"), Starr's hog-calling vocal was recorded in just one take. A paint-peeling series of sonic explosions, the Whitfield-Strong composition rocketed to No. 1. Faithfully covered by Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, whose recorded-in-concert version hit the Top 10 in 1986. How soon we forget ... (DW)


27 "I Found a Love" The Falcons (Lupine) 1962

In 1959, the Falcons detonated soul music with their gospel-tinged smash hit "You're So Fine," recorded in a basement on Alexandrine Street using primitive equipment that Berry Gordy would later purchase for Hitsville USA. That same year, the group's ever-shifting lineup (Mack Rice and Eddie Floyd were members) brought a young Wilson Pickett aboard. In 1962, with Dayton's Ohio Untouchables (later the Ohio Players) shimmering behind them, Pickett rocketed the group to the top again with his devastating "I Found a Love." Guitarist Robert Ward's magical stereo vibrato licks answered every one of Pickett's fervent wails. Later a Mitch Ryder & Detroit cover. (MH)


28 "Search and Destroy" Iggy & The Stooges (Mainman/Columbia) 1973

Cut in London after the Stooges had officially broken up, "Search and Destroy" — and the album it came from, Raw Power — may have been their "last stand," but, even more so than ever before, it seemed like the soundtrack of a high school geek finally wreaking his havoc-filled revenge. For the first time, the Stooges' science-gone-wrong ouvre — always evident in their music, rarely spelled out in their lyrics — was laid bare with anthemic glory: "Look out, honey," Iggy advises menacingly, "'cause I'm usin' technology." In the few years since Fun House, he'd risen from declaring himself "Dirt" to becoming "the runaway son of the nuclear A-bomb." (MH)


29 "Baby, I Need Your Loving" The Four Tops (Motown) 1964

In the midst of Beatlemania, the Four Tops went to No. 11 in the summer of '64 with their first Motown single, a beautiful and poignant ballad composed and produced by Hitsville's superstar Holland-Dozier-Holland production team. Introducing Levi Stubbs' extraordinary lead vocals to the world, it featured fellow Tops Renaldo "Obie" Benson and Lawrence Payton on backing vocals, as well as session vocalists the Andantes, who also served as the faux Supremes on "Love Child." Johnny Rivers covered the song in '67; his comparably limp version reached No. 3, proving there's no accounting for taste in America's pop market. (BH)


30 "A Child Is Born" Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra (Blue Note) 1970

A few tunes by Detroit-area jazz artists have become jazz standards, most notably Milt Jackson's "Bags' Groove." This one, penned by composer, trumpeter and bandleader Thad Jones, has become a crossover classic. One of the famed Jones brothers of Pontiac — with pianist Hank and the late drummer Elvin — Thad worked with Basie in the 1950s, and was proclaimed as "Bartók with valves" by Charles Mingus. This ballad surfaced on the album Consummation during Thad's time as a big band co-leader and later, with lyrics from Alec Wilder, took on a new life. While it conveys the wonder at any birth, it's become a Christmas favorite. (WKH)


31 "The Money Is Made" Detroit's Most Wanted (Bryant Records) 1992

Detroit's Most Wanted sent word to the world outside Detroit, as early as the '80s, that the terrain between the river and 8 Mile was its own planet. Motsi Ski, Lee and DJ Duncan Hines came with their own style, ethic and swagger. And their sound represented Detroit streets. "The Money is Made" was an anthem for gangsters who rocked Dobbs hats and bluejean outfits, and drove Jeep Cherokees with silver rock-molding on the side. (KKT)


32 "Village of Love" Nathaniel Mayer & The Fabulous Twilights (Fortune) 1962

The epitome of Fortune Records' primitive aesthetic, "Village Of Love" was the eccentric local imprint's biggest hit, crashing the national pop charts at No. 22 with a histrionic doo-wop-meets-garage sound that rarely made it out of the Motor City. Drummer Butch Vaden and bassist Ted "Mac" Smith drove the beat like a singular force of nature, while Mayer's high register vocals accented highly original lyrics with exclamatory shout-outs to both Jackie Wilson ("Hey! Hey!) and Ray Charles ("Tell your ma! Tell your Pa! We're goin' back! To Arkansas!"). Then there's that head-splitting guitar solo ... (MH)


33 "Fever" Little Willie John (King) 1956

There's a reason James Brown once titled an album Thinking of Little Willie John ... And a Few Other Nice Things. And one listen to John's smouldering vocal on this, still the best version of this oft-recorded classic — or "Need Your Love So Bad" (covered by Peter Green's version of Fleetwood Mac), "Leave My Kitten Alone" (covered by the Beatles), "Talk to Me" (covered by Sunny & the Sunglows), "I'm Shakin'" (covered by the Blasters), and "All Around the World" (aka "Grits Ain't Groceries," when covered by Little Milton) — will tell you why. (DW)


34 "City Slang" Sonic's Rendezvous Band (Orchide) 1978

Formed in Ann Arbor in 1975, Sonic's Rendezvous Band was a Michigan proto-punk supergroup, consisting of the MC5's Fred "Sonic" Smith, the Rationals' Scott Morgan, the Stooges' Scott Asheton, and the Up's Gary Rasmussen. The band released one single during its career, both sides featuring "City Slang" (one in mono; the other in stereo). Living up to Smith's nickname, "City Slang" was a guitar-powered sonic assault, an anthem that reflected the Detroit notion of a "guitar army." There was no promotion and the band hardly ventured outside the state, but "City Slang" reached international classic status totally via word-of-mouth. (BH)


35 "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man" The Bob Seger System (Capitol) 1967

Bob Seger kicked off his rock 'n' roll career by gigging around the legendary Hideout circuit of teen clubs as organist for Doug Brown and the Omens, fronting his own combo the Last Heard, and unleashing the huge area hits "East Side Story" and "Heavy Music." After both stubbornly refused to break out nationally, Seger reorganized his band, inked with Capitol and released his first album in 1967. Its pounding, primitive title track, built around his soulfully raspy vocals, became his first hit, rising to No. 17 on Billboard's pop charts, though superstar status was still a good decade away. (MH)


36 "Dancing in the Street" Martha & the Vandellas (Gordy) 1964

This call to liberation, an inversion of P-Funk overlord George Clinton's later dictum — free your ass and your mind will follow (and an antecedent of the Stones' "Street Fighting Man") — is true urban music concrete, what with those krruuussshhing sounds of snowchains accenting the beat. Notably covered by Van Halen, the Mamas &the Papas, and Mick Jagger and David Bowie, among many others. Notable also for an unforgetable, pre-MTV promo film of Martha & the Vandellas lip-synching the tune as they ride down an auto assembly line in a '64 Mustang convertible. Doesn't get any more Detroit than that. (DW)


37 "Shotgun" Junior Walker & the All-Stars (Soul/Motown) 1965

Does any song scream "Detroit!" more than this one does? The All-Stars were originally signed by legendary R&B entrepreneur Harvey Fugua. When Berry Gordy took over Fugua's label, the band became part of the Motown family. Produced by Gordy himself and composed by Walker, this debut track went to No. 4 on the pop and No. 1 on the R&B charts, becoming the All-Stars signature song. They hit No. 4 (pop)/No. 1 (R&B) again in '69 with "What Does it Take (To Win Your Love)," although latter-day rock fans may sadly recognize Walker better as the saxophonist on Foreigner's "Urgent." (BH)


38 "Cool Jerk" The Capitols (Karen) 1966

Detroit's '60s soul scene wasn't all about Motown. Producer Ollie McLaughlin scored hits with Deon Jackson ("Love Makes the World Go 'Round"), Barbara Lewis ("Hello, Stranger"), the Fabulous Counts ("Jan Jan"), and this insanely infectious dance number, which dovetailed so perfectly with the 1980s New Wave, girls-just-wanna-have-fun aesthetic, the Go-Go's covered it on their first album. (DW)


39 "You Can't Hurry Love" The Supremes (Motown) 1966

The gals were at the top of their game when they released what some consider their signature song. Featuring the original lineup (Ms. Ross, Mary Wilson and Flo Ballard) and perhaps inspired by the Shirelles' "Mama Said," the song was another Holland-Dozier-Holland composition-production. It was recorded the same day as "You Keep Me Hangin' On," but Motown's Quality Control department deemed this the superior cut. Both songs would eventually hit No. 1. Phil Collins topped the charts with a lame cover in '82, but we preferred versions by the Stray Cats and Dixie Chicks. Nothing tops the original, though. (BH)


40 "Maggot Brain" Funkadelic (Westbound) 1971

George Clinton told guitarist Eddie Hazel to play the first half like he'd heard his mother had just died and the second half like he'd learned she was still alive, and the resulting, 10-minute showpiece equals any of those FM radio standards from any of those multi-guitar Southern rock outfits. So popular among P-Funk fans that Clinton re-recorded it with Michael Hampton doing the fretgrinding in 1978. Also covered by alt-rock bass hero and current Stooges member Mike Watt with Dinosaur Jr. riffslinger J. Mascis essaying the solo in 1995. (DW)


41 "Give Me Just a Little More Time" Chairmen of the Board (Invictus) 1970

When Holland-Dozier-Holland left Motown to head up their own Invictus and Hot Wax labels, they (pseudonymously) took the type of material they'd previously tailored to the talents of the Four Tops to the Chairmen of the Board, led by General Norman Johnson. An incorrigible vocal stylist, Johnson — who formerly fronted the Showmen of 1962 rock-anthem "It Will Stand" fame — certainly pulls out all the glottal stops on this utterly irrepressible, alternately stuttering 'n' sputtering groove thang. (DW)


42 "Smiling Faces Sometimes" The Undisputed Truth (Gordy) 1971

In this case, the Undisputed Truth (vocalists Joe Harris, Billie Rae Calvin and Brenda Joyce) came in the sonic shape of the dark, swirling, dusted 'n' busted psychedelic soul (courtesy producer Norman Whitfield) that framed yet another timeless message of pragmatism — or is it paranoia? — from lyricist Barrett Strong. Like Edwin Starr's "War," this tune was first recorded in a markedly inferior version as a Temptations album track. (DW)


43 "Do You Love Me" The Contours (Gordy) 1962

Written and produced by Berry Gordy, it was intended for the Temptations. When Gordy couldn't locate them, however, he gave it to the Contours. It went to No. 3 on the pop and No. 1 on the R&B charts, guaranteeing the Contours a headlining spot on the first Motown Revue. The novelty-comical approach led to similar songs, but the group never had another big hit (although the song went to No. 11 in 1987 when featured in Dirty Dancing). The Dave Clark 5 scored with a cover version, but it became more notorious as Johnny Thunders' onstage signature song in the late '70s. (BH)


44 "Let's Get it On" Marvin Gaye (Tamla) 1973

Has there ever been a better (or more romantic) sex song? Gaye had severe writer's block when he came up with this tune, which originally had political lyrics. Co-writer Ed ("For Your Love") Townsend protested the tune was about "making sweet love" and helped rewrite the words. The song hit No. 2 on the pop and No. 1 on the R&B charts, with a subsequent album surpassing What's Going On in sales. An inspiration to later sexually charged soul singers, it received its most apt review when paired with What's Going On on a single CD: "The world's going to hell, so let's fuck." (BH)


45 "My Girl" The Temptations (Soul/Motown) 1964

The Temptations had so many phases to their career, it's impossible to pick just several songs to represent their achievements. But if any song stands as a signature, this Smokey Robinson-penned and co-produced classic would be the one. The first to feature lead singer David Ruffin, it was also their first to hit No. 1. Smokey originally intended it as a cut for the Miracles, since it was written for his wife, Claudette. The Rolling Stones would cover it in '66, starting a trend that found the band later covering the Temps' "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" and "Just My Imagination." (BH)


46 "My Guy" Mary Wells (Motown) 1964

It would seem that Smokey Robinson was an equal opportunity kinda guy. Not content with writing an ode to "My Girl," he obviously felt inclined to write a song from the female perspective, giving it to Motown's first big female star. It became Wells' biggest hit, reaching No. 1 on the pop charts. Aside from several duets with Marvin Gaye, it was also her last hit for the label. She signed with 20th Century Fox that same year, hoping for better royalty rates and perhaps movie roles ... but she never again reached the same heights she'd reached at Motown with this Smokey-produced gem. (BH)


47 "You Really Got a Hold on Me" The Miracles (Tamla) 1962

Berry Gordy found a true dynamo in Smokey Robinson. Not only a superb singer, he was also a great songwriter and one of the label's best producers. Smokey delivered the goods again with this track, his second million-seller (following "Shop Around"). The Miracles' performance of it was one of the more memorable moments in The TAMI Show (which is saying a lot). It was one of many Motown songs covered by the Beatles during their club days and ended up on the band's second album. "I don't like you but I love you ..." Has there ever been a better pop lyricist? (BH)


48 "We're An American Band" Grand Funk (Capitol) 1973

Ironic that the Grand Funk track on this list should be one neither written nor sung by Mark Farner. Nevertheless, this was the Flint-based band's first No. 1 single. Inspired when drummer Don Brewer argued with Humble Pie about American rock, Brewer wrote the song the next day, using events from the band's Phoenix tour (including playing cards with Freddie King and doing, um, whatever with super-groupie "sweet, sweet Connie" Hamzy). Produced by Todd Rundgren, it was a rock anthem from day one. "We come into your town, we'll help you party down." The Ramones never came up with anything more brilliantly stoopid. (BH)


49 "Fell in Love With a Girl" The White Stripes (Sympathy For The Record Industry) 2001

So raw, so primitive, so concise. First time I heard this — Jack and Meg White's big breakthrough disc — I thought my car radio's speakers had broken. (I'd seen the dynamic duo live, but it'd been a long, long time since I'd heard that sort of beauty in distortion on the commercial airwaves.) Great funky, gender-flipped cover by Joss Stone — with Roots drummer ?uestlove producing — on her 2003 album debut too. (DW)


50 "Come See About Me" The Supremes (Motown) 1964

Woeful love-addiction has never been this bouncy, this agreeable, this infinitely commercial. (Reached No. 1 on the pop charts twice in '64.) It's misleadingly sugary too — we easily miss Ross' codependent cries of need, of inner turmoil born of love's pain. Maudlin? Nah. It's an ache and honesty that's universal. This is pop music. Twenty-year-old Diana Ross pulls the Holland-Dozer-Holland sing-song model with an adrenaline that matches the Funk Brothers' oomph, right off West Grand Boulevard. (BS)


51 "Uptight (Everything's Alright)" Stevie Wonder (Tamla) 1966

Powered by drumming that sounds like a can-press, this rompin', stompin', four-on-the floor track — topped by Wonder's joyous, gloriously all-over-the-place vocals — is the sonic definition of what, owing to its enduring popularity in the north of England, green-teethed record collectors like to call "Northern soul." (DW)


52 "Work With Me Annie" The Midnighters (Federal) 1954

Led by Hank Ballard, who'd eventually receive top billing, this Detroit quintet — originally known as the Royals — racked up a half-dozen major hits, including the original versions of "Every Beat of My Heart," the song that jump-started Gladys Knight & the Pips' career, and "The Twist," which did the same for Chubby Checker; but it was this tune's left-right combination of risqué "leer-ics" and grinding beat that really put the sin in syncopation, spawning not only the group's hit sequel ("Annie Had a Baby"), but also a sanitized cover by Etta James ("Dance With Me Henry"). (DW)


53 "Looking at You" The MC5 (A-Squared) 1968

Originally issued on Jeep Holland's Ann Arbor-based indie label, this is the wilder, woolier, far more muscular version of the tune that the Five later recorded on Back in the USA. Highly imaginative usage of the group's trademark dueling lead guitars — and the MC5 were perhaps the best-ever, certainly the most underrated, when it comes to this sadly now-lost art. Dig how Fred "Sonic" Smith holds that single note of feedback all the way through an entire verse. (DW)


54 "Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get" The Dramatics (Volt) 1971

Issued on a Memphis-based Stax subsidiary, but recorded in the Motor City, this was the veteran Detroit vocal group's first major hit. You've gotta love the message — and that crucial key change. (Hah!) Heard to spellbinding effect in the opening sequence to the long out-of-print — now finally available on DVD — concert film and documentary Wattstax. (DW)


55 "(I Wanna) Testify" The Parliaments (Revilot) 1967

After migrating from New Jersey and marinating in Detroit, George Clinton's original quintet locked into a droning, mind-blown, secularized gospel groove that they rode all the way to infinity (and back). The P-Funk starts here. (DW)


56 "Jailbait" Andre Williams (Fortune) 1957

"Seventeen-and-a-half is still jailbait ..." Given the subject matter — even though it's played for laughs — this was never gonna get played on Top 40 radio. But as a shining example of the raunchy R&B that concerned '50s parents 'n' preachers were always complaining about, it's been a cult jam since the day it dropped from the presses. (I first heard it on free-form FM radio in 1968.) (DW)


57 "Superstition" Stevie Wonder (Motown) 1972

Like the Temptations, Stevie Wonder's career has so many phases that it's hard to choose just several to represent his eclectic output. But this is the one where audiences knew that the 22-year-old man was undoubtedly no longer "Little" Stevie. The song was originally written for guitarist Jeff Beck (who played guitar on the concurrent Talking Book album), but Stevie's manager convinced him to record it himself. Good call, as the single — which remains about as funky as it can get — immediately shot to No. 1 on the charts. And Stevie Wonder's career and image would never again be the same. (BH)


58 "Big Fun" Inner City (Virgin worldwide, KMS in Detroit) 1988

When the rest of the world caught up to Detroit techno, it was largely due to the efforts of Brit dance music impresario Neil Rushton, who compiled 13 local tracks on the ground-breaking Techno: New Dance Sound of Detroit LP. The song that grabbed most of the attention was "Big Fun," a colossal party anthem perfectly in sync with Europe's growing rave culture. Produced by Kevin Saunderson with vocals by Chicago house diva Paris Grey, its structure more resembles a traditional song than probably anything else that exists in the genre, then or now. (WW)


59 "Into the Groove" Madonna (Sire) 1985

There were some angry arguments among voters as to whether the Bay City-born Ms. Ciccone even belongs on this list. But, as Herb Jordan argued, the songs she wrote and produced with Detroiter Stephen Bray are pure homegrown. And this is probably the best of the bunch, as hypnotic as its title suggests. Her fourth single, it immediately went to No. 1 on dance charts throughout the world and remains a club favorite to this day. Bonus points for the non-ironic cover version by Ciccone Youth (aka Sonic Youth and a programmer friend), which used snippets of the Material Girl's original vocal track. (BH)


60 "Money" Barrett Strong (Anna/Tamla) 1959

Co-written and produced by Berry Gordy, this was his label's very first hit record, reaching No. 1 on the R&B and No. 23 on the pop charts. Its influence would become much more pervasive than No. 23 would indicate; in many ways, it kicked off a musical revolution. The timeless sentiment of its lyrics didn't hurt, of course. It's the only cover recorded by both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Some of the more memorable versions include John Belushi's raunchy rendition in Animal House, Jerry Lee Lewis's wild take, and the Flying Lizard's positively Germanic postmodern 1979 hit single. (BH)


61 "Every Little Bit Hurts" Brenda Holloway (Tamla) 1964

This original version of the oft-covered (the Steve Marriott-led Small Faces, the Steve Winwood-fronted Spencer Davis Group, the Clash, the Jam, and — most recently — Alicia Keys) bluesy ballad has never been bettered, thanks mainly to Holloway's cat-footed, gospel-drenched vocal. And, yeah, it was a product of Motown's mid-'60s L.A. office — 'twas written by erstwhile Four Preps member Ed Cobb, who worked similar songsmithing miracles for the Standells ("Dirty Water," et al.) and Gloria Jones (the original version of "Tainted Love") — but that only reinforces the scope of Berry Gordy's accomplishments. (DW)


62 "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" The Temptations (Gordy) 1972

Penned by staff writers Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" employed three different lead singers — four if you count the wah-wah guitar — discussing the rumors heard about the late father who deserted them. Papa was a stone-cold hustler: part-time bluesman, pimp and storefront preacher known for "stealin' in the name of the Lord." Despite the fact that Dennis Edwards' dad actually had died on the third of September, Whitfield forced him to sing the famous opening line, later losing his job with the group over it. Later memorably covered by iconoclasts Was (Not Was). (MH)


63 "Mind Over Matter" Nolan Strong & the Diablos (Fortune) 1962

A local smash upon its release, "Mind Over Matter" sounded like nothing that came before it and nothing that's come since. Built around a six-string riff that Keith Richards would later swipe for "Start Me Up," this genre-defying single was as much about the ground-breaking approach of guitarist Chuck Chittenden as it was the ethereal-voiced delivery of its lead singer. Surf drums, doo-wop harmonies, country chord changes and a blazing guitar solo compounded Berry Gordy's attempt to cash in with a cover version by the aptly named Pirates (actually the Temptations in disguise). Good as it was, some magic just can't be duplicated. (MH)


64 "Reach Out, I'll Be There" The Four Tops (Motown) 1966

The definitive Motown — well, H-D-H, anyway — mid-'60s production. Melodic, propulsive bassline. Drop-forge drumming. Flutes. Exotic percussion. Wailing harmonies that seem to echo from the cold distance of the void itself. And Levi Stubbs singing like he's about to burst into flames at any moment. "Just look over your shoulder!" H-bomb. Wipeout. All she wrote. (DW)


65 "Where Did Our Love Go" The Supremes (Motown) 1964

This was the big bang for the Supremes. Holland-Dozier-Holland originally intended the tune for the Marvelettes, who hated it. The Supremes had little choice — all their singles had bombed up to that point. They also disliked the song, however, and after the Marvelettes warned them not to let the producers boss them around, there was some animosity during recording; Eddie Holland originally wanted Mary Wilson to sing lead, but his partners objected. Nevertheless, the song went to No. 1, leading to a string of chart-toppers for the most famous girl group in history. They outsold the Beatles the following year. (BH)


66 "Goin' to a Go-Go" The Miracles (Tamla) 1966

Although best-known as balladeers, the Smokey Robinson-fronted group cut more than their fair share of songs that were designed to wear the shine off the dance floor, as evidenced by the rock-solid drumming — the inspiration for the Knack's "My Sharona" — and the cushy harmonies that propel this track as smoothly and forcefully as wind-blown clouds across an Indian summer sky. Covered by the Rolling Stones, who stripped everything down to the drumbeat — and lost the subtle nuances in the process. (DW)


67 "Bye Bye Baby" Mary Wells (Motown) 1960

Wells was all of 17 years old when she wrote this song, hoping Jackie Wilson would cut it. She brought it to Berry Gordy — then best-known for co-writing a fistful of Wilson's hits — who promptly whisked her into the studio. And 22 throat-shredding takes later, she cut it — to the bone, Jim. A volcanic performance; sounds nothing like any of her Smokey-composed hits. Forcefully covered by the Detroit Cobras a few years back. (DW)


68 "One Nation Under a Groove" Funkadelic (Warner Bros.) 1978

Eight minutes of various vocal refrains that reference everyone from James Brown to Stepin Fetchit make for a dance floor anthem so loose-limbed it sounds like it was recorded in the middle of a really good block party. Given the collective nature of the P-Funk operation, it's difficult to assign individual credit, but it's worth noting that this was the first single with keyboardist Walter "Junie" Morrison — who co-wrote the song with George Clinton and Gary Shider — in the lineup. (DW)


69 "RESPECT" The Rationals, (A-Square) 1966

Predating the Queen of Soul's bra-burning version by a year, Ann Arbor's Rationals' take on Otis Redding's "Respect" was a wondrous wallop of Southern-soul-meets-garage, highlighted by a take-your-head-off harmonica part. Produced by Hugh "Jeep" Holland at D-town's United Sound, and led by Scott Morgan's gut-bucket R&B vox, the tune went Top 5 at local radio and was soon picked up by Cameo-Parkway for national distribution. It then saw brief life in the Billboard Pop Charts, peaking at No. 92. It's rumored that Atlantic records' Jerry Wexler and Aretha Franklin nicked the idea to cover "Respect" from this wonderfully tanked-up take. (BS)


70 "Piece of My Heart" Erma Franklin (Shout) 1967

Although this disc wasn't cut in Detroit, she — like her big sister, Aretha — grew up in the D, and this still-smokin' original version helped make Janis Joplin a star when she covered it with Big Brother & the Holding Company. (DW)


71 "Journey to the Center of the Mind" The Amboy Dukes (1968) Mainstream

The Amboy Dukes took their name from a defunct Detroit band of the same moniker, who in turn adapted it from Irving Shulman's 1940s era JD novel about gangland Brooklyn. But "Journey" seemed to point to an entirely more modern form of youth rebellion. From the psychedelic concept album of the same name, complete with a sleeve depicting what appeared to be the entire contents of an above-average head shop, Amboy Dukes founder — and staunch drug opponent — Ted Nugent always pleaded ignorance on the subject of this early, mind-expanding hit, despite recording a new version on his most recent LP. (MH)


72 "Night Moves" Bob Seger (Capitol) 1976

So it's been tattooed on our brainpans by oldies radio. Big deal. It's still a classic lust-driven song that skillfully details waning teen innocence — trusty images of drive-ins and Chevys abound, neatly tied together by a thunder-as-orgasm metaphor. It's a teen-schtupp anthem masquerading as a Top 40 ballad (it went to No. 4)! A gentle three-chord roundelay, piano-plunked chorus, and Seger's black-man-in-a-white-dude voice reveal a heart beating just below the surface. The song also helped reinvent the Seeg's career, for better or worse. (BS)


73 "Loose" Iggy and the Stooges (Elektra) 1970

The Stooges had already gone where no band had gone before with their self-titled 1969 debut. Now they delved further into the acid-drenched gutter with 1970's appropriately titled Fun House. Recorded in L.A. by Don Gallucci, a producer who knew something about brutal rock 'n' roll as former organist with the Kingsmen and his own hard-hitting combo Don & the Goodtimes, Iggy and company were given free rein and captured in full roar. From the banshee wail of "TV Eye" to the free jazz dirge of "Dirt," Fun House's songs are of a piece but, amazingly, "Loose" stands completely on its own. (MH)


74 "Hamtramck Mama" The York Brothers (Mellow) 1939

Natives of Kentucky, hillbilly blues duo the York Brothers moved to Detroit in the '30s to entertain the city's large Appalachian population, hitting pay dirt in '39 with this double-entendre classic. A statewide jukebox hit, it was banned outright in the Polish enclave, which added to its notoriety and propelled sales to more than 300,000 copies in Detroit alone. Popular enough to be recut by the brothers several times, it was later paired with their even more explicit "Highland Park Girl" and pressed throughout the coming decades, influencing Ray Taylor's late '50s rockabilly cult classic "My Hamtramck Baby." (MH)


75 "Tainted" Slum Village (Virgin/Barak Records) 2002

How did Slum Village respond after the late J-Dilla, the member widely perceived as the cornerstone of the group, left? T3, Baatin and newcomer Elzhi became the first Detroit rap group to score an urban summer anthem. "Tainted" was played in the roughest hoods and coolest clubs. The song introduced Detroit crooner Dwele, who would later score his own hit with "Find A Way." SV would not score a hit that big again, but they gained the respect of none other than Kanye West, who produced their second biggest hit, "Selfish." (KKT)


76 "The Rubber Band Man" The Spinners

There was debate as to whether the Spinners belong here; their biggest hits were recorded in Philadelphia after the group left Motown. But not only did they first form while students at Ferndale High but they're known as "the Detroit Spinners" in the U.K. Tracks like "Could It Be I'm Falling in Love" are perhaps more representative of the Spinners' oeuvre, but this one — written by Philly legend Thom Bell about his overweight son — is so infectious (and a breath of fresh air during the disco era), we had to include it. Sadly better known today as an Office Max jingle. (BH)


77 "Fingertips" Stevie Wonder (Tamla) 1963

Recorded live at Chicago's Regal Theater, this introduced 13-year-old "Little" Stevie Wonder to the world, although it spotlighted his harmonica and bongo playing more than it did his vocals (and the song wasn't written by the young "genius," as Motown was calling him at the time). Divided over both sides of the single, it became the label's second No. 1 pop hit after "Please Mr. Postman." Wilder than most fare on the radio at the time, the crowd noise made it somewhat reminiscent of "What'd I Say" by Stevie's idol, Ray Charles. And the drumming was done by Marvin Gaye. (BH)


78 "2 +2 = ?" The Bob Seger System (Capitol) 1968

Take one monster fuzztone guitar riff, throw in some trash-can drumming, a whole lotta blue-eyed soul shoutin', and a populist ("I ain't sayin' I'm a genius, but ...") anti-war message. Then there's "Heavy Music" (as good as description of being under the sway of the subject), "East Side Story" (everything that Bruce Springsteen ever wanted to say in a single but years earlier)"Rosalie" (about longtime CKLW program director Rosalie Trombley; covered by Thin Lizzy), "Get out of Denver" (covered by Dave Edmunds and Eddie & the Hot Rods) and, and, and ... Good writers make it sound so E-Z! (DW)


79 "Scorpio" Dennis Coffey & the Detroit Guitar Band (Sussex) 1971

Scorching instrumental from the local session guitarist who contributed psychedelic textures to innumerable hits. Bob Babbitt's breakdown bass solo became the standard that all aspiring bassists were measured against, and the drum break has been sampled by Public Enemy ("Night of the Living Baseheads") and at least a dozen other hip-hop artists. (DW)


80 "Bernadette" The Four Tops (Motown) 1967

Aside from Marlon Brando doing the "Stella!" bit, few other guys have yelled a gal's name with this much feeling. Of course, Levi Stubbs has the Funk Brothers' madly insistent beat setting up his entrance for this song of pride, need, obsession ... and that undercurrent of insecurity as he eyes his "pretend" friends who can't help coveting what he can't do without. Yet the song ends with a twist: She means "more to me than a woman was ever meant to be." This is late, classic Motown, almost baroque in its details, musically and lyrically. (WKH)


81 "I Heard It Through the Grapevine"Marvin Gaye (Tamla) 1968

The late guitar hero Mike Bloomfield once called this "voodoo music." And he was right. Producer Norman Whitfield forced Marvin to sing at the top of his range, adding to the strained intensity of this utterly oppressive, almost claustrophobic performance. (DW)


82 "Strings of Life" Rhythim is Rhythim (Transmat) 1985

This most famous of all Derrick May productions was made with processed piano, layered beats and other effects. Though it seems rather tame today, 20 years ago it was considered the zenith of the electronic dance avant-garde. May clearly took inspiration from Chicago house, gaining cred when DJ Frankie Knuckles apparently played it seven times in a row at the famed Power Plant. But the track really exploded as a staple on outdoor festival sound systems in the UK and in the evolving dance club scene all over Europe. (WW)


83 "Band of Gold" Freda Payne (Invictus) 1970

Although she'd left her native Detroit, Freda Payne was persuaded to return when Holland-Dozier-Holland signed her to their new Invictus label. The song was originally offered to the Supremes, but they were uncomfortable with the subject matter. Payne wasn't crazy about the tune either, thinking she was too old for it. But she relented and the song, featuring Dennis Coffey on guitar, was immediately a No. 1 smash. Detroiters may remember Patti Smith covering it at the Masonic Auditorium in the mid-'70s. Payne returned to the Top 20 in '71 with "Bring the Boys Home," an antiwar tune. (BH)


84 "Lonely Teardrops" Jackie Wilson (Brunswick) 1958

At a 1952 Detroit talent show, Wilson came in third. Little Willie John took second and Hank Ballard & the Midnighters (then known as the Royals) won it. Six years later, this Berry Gordy co-write gave Wilson — technically the best R&B-soul singer of his lifetime — a tune worthy of his formidable vocal talents. Wilson had it all: Range, power, control, and the ability to bend stretch any syllable into a long string of notes faster, smoother and longer than anyone. You try singing along. (DW)


85 "Rock 'n' Roll Music" The Frost (Vanguard) 1969

The scantly remembered Frost in 1969 were incipient Michigan rock stars who never conquered the world. They should've. The band kicked out the jams bigger, harder, better than anyone then — and this Dick Wagner-penned monster is proof. Recorded live at the gnarly, mythological Grande Ballroom, the song's a fist-jacking shout-along, the greatest anthem few have ever heard. Singer-guitarist Wagner, you'll note, did get his rewards. He backed Lou Reed on his greatest album (Rock 'n' Roll Animal), and co-wrote a few of Alice Cooper's best ("Only Women Bleed," among them). That's him uncredited on Aerosmith's "Train Kept-a Rollin'" too. (BS)


86 "Dance of the Redskins" Todd Rhodes and his Orchestra (Sensation) 1947

Pianist Todd Rhodes (alum of McKinney's Cotton Pickers) and his hot new combination burst the Detroit R&B scene wide open with this one. Waxed for Sensation Records in July 1947, this captured some of the in-person excitement generated at Lee's Sensation Lounge. Picture the patrons following the horn section, as they walked out of the club, down the street, and back again. The tune's a souped-up version of "Redskin Rhumba" (itself based on "Cherokee"), and fuses elements of gospel, jazz, R&B and rock 'n' roll, creating three minutes of drivin', high-energy Detroit music. A precursor to Rhodes' better-known "Rocket 69." (JG)


87 "Smiley But Not Friendly" Smiley (Bryant Records) 1990

The nightly radio show she hosts on Hot 102.7 consistently proves that Smiley is just as ladylike as she was when she dropped this old school rap classic in 1989. She asserted her position at a time when Detroit hip hop was finding its way. The line that made her famous? Smiley/but I'm not friendly/for the simple fact that it's just not in me. The single, "Smiley But Not Friendly" was certified gold in 1989. She also ventured into modeling and television before settling into radio. (KKT)


88 "Lose Yourself" Eminem (Shady/Aftermath/Interscope) 2002

The only Academy Award-winner (for Best Original Song) on this list. Bonus points for having been written in Detroit on the set of the quasi-autobiographical 8 Mile film. Even more bonus points for reducing the entire movie to the first verse. And the you've-gotta-get-over-yourself-in-order-to-get-yourself-over message is far more universal than any of his other discs. (DW)


89 "(Just Like) Romeo & Juliet" The Reflections (Golden World) 1964

Shakespeare comes to Dearborn in this hard-charging update on the classic teenage romance, penned by Al Hamilton & Freddie Gorman and vocal quintet the Reflections (Tony Micale, Danny Bennie, Phil Castrodale, Johnny Dean and Ray Steinberg) splitting the difference between pop and soul. (DW)


90 "Atomic Dog" George Clinton (Capitol) 1983

Supremely silly, the P-Funk empire's last hurrah became one of the building blocks of gangsta rap — sampled by Dr. Dre, Ice Cube and — of course — Snoop Dogg for "Who Am I (What's My Name)?" — and the theme song for 102 Dalmations. Still heard every night in Clubland. (DW)


91 "What I Like About You" The Romantics (Nemperor/Epic) 1980

Due to its long-lasting popularity, one may believe it was a chart-topper for Detroit's most successful new wave/power-pop band. It was only a moderate success, however, hitting No. 48. It wasn't until Budweiser licensed it that it became the ubiquitous anthem it is today. Since then, it's been adopted by the Los Angeles Dodgers and Mattel, among so many others, in addition to appearing in numerous films, Shrek 2 and The Simpsons Movie among them. It's one of the most licensed tracks ever, but the fact that this three-chord rocker's appeal remains undiminished is a tribute to its timeless appeal. (BH)


92 "Mind, Body and Soul" Flaming Ember (Hot Wax) 1969

Interesting that the first group Holland-Dozier-Holland worked with after forming their Hot Wax label in 1969 would be a local blue-eyed soul band. But the kids who heard and loved this passionate and dramatic testament of love on CKLW, where it was a constant, didn't know (or care) that these guys were white. After a rush of Top 40 hits that ran through 1970, the Ember drifted into obscurity; even changing their name to Mind, Body and Soul in the mid-'70s couldn't remedy that fact. Strange trivia: The band was inducted into the Rockabilly (??!!) Hall of Fame. (BH)


93 "Rock 'n' Roll" Detroit (Paramount) 1972

After an attempt at solo stardom, Mitch Ryder returned to Detroit to form a new band. Only drummer Johnny Badanjek remained from the Detroit Wheels but he recruited other musicians to create one of rock's all-time best live units. Then-manager (and CREEM publisher) Barry Kramer named them Detroit, and the band transformed this Lou Reed/Velvet Underground classic into a Motor City anthem. Reed — who later hired guitarist Steve Hunter, along with the Frost's Dick Wagner, and had Ryder join him onstage to sing it at Masonic Auditorium in 1978 — would say Detroit did it "the way it's supposed to be played." (BH)


94 "Agent Double-O-Soul" Edwin Starr (Ric-Tic) 1965

Too-hip, undercover brother lyrics, inspired by the mid-'60s James Bond craze. Recorded prior to Starr's stint at Motown for Eddie Wingate's local Ric-Tic label with under-the-table musical contributions from the Funk Brothers. Starr's other self-penned, pre-Motown hits — "S.O.S. (Stop Her On Sight)," covered by Michigan's own Marshall Crenshaw; and "Headline News," every newspaper writer's favorite — are almost equally great. (DW)


95 "I Was Made to Love Her" Stevie Wonder (Tamla) 1967

That sprung-guitar riff's an instant earworm. The bass playing — again by the late, great James Jamerson — kicks ass. And when does Stevie breathe? (DW)


96 "The Punisher" Underground Resistance (Underground Resistance) 1991

A group better known for creating Afro-futurist manifestos that spawned a zillion fellow travelers (most often white and Asian suburban youth, ironically) in Germany, Holland and Japan, let's not forget that UR also wrote and produced some of the hardest, purist electro-jams of the day. This fire-breathing monster — which featured ripping basslines and evil arpeggios that became the template for all blistering techno that followed in its wake — is a stormy collaborative effort between "Mad" Mike Banks and Jeff Mills, who decamped soon after and established his own Axis label. (WW)


97 "Hot Rod Lincoln" Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen (Paramount) 1972

Formed in Ann Arbor in 1967 by George Frayne and John Tichy, the Airmen took their name from a weekly B-movie film serial of the early '50s. Their sole hit was resurrected from the same era. Yet somehow, Commander Cody's prism to the past foretold the future of country rock. "Hot Rod Lincoln" had been waxed by everyone from Charlie Ryan to Johnny Bond by the time Cody got hold of it. But guitarist Bill Kirchen's relentless boogie patterns — and Frayne's rapid-fire vocal delivery — endeared it to a whole new audience, including the crowd at the "Free John Sinclair" rally. (MH)


98 "Nitroglycerine" The Gories (New Rose) 1990

With a deconstructionalist take on R&B far too raw for their time, the Gories were scorned during most of their existence; revered after they broke up, and wholly responsible for lighting the torch for the city's '90s garage rock explosion. But you can be sure that the White Stripes never wrote a line as great as "It's like dropping a stick of dynamite in a Dixie Cup." "She's volatile," chant guitarists Mick Collins and Dan Kroha over Peggy O'Neill's shamanistic back beat; the perfect springboard for Collins to unleash one of the most string-mangling solos ever put to wax. (MH)


99 "Love's Gone Bad" The Underdogs (V.I.P.) 1967

"I feel a pounding in my brain/ Ice cold water running through my veins/ Got a bad taste in my mouth from bitter tears/ Heart's feelin' sad 'cause/ Love's gone bad!" Our hero's soon looking up at the "black" sky and it just gets worse from there. Having already waxed local garage classics like "Friday at the Hideout (Judy Be Mine)" and the unbelievable "Get Down on Your Knees," Grosse Pointe's Underdogs signed with Motown's V.I.P. subsidiary and covered fellow white Hitsville artist Chris Clark, whose version of "Love's Gone Bad" is every bit as dark and desperate as theirs. (MH)


100 "Cynthy-Ruth" Black Merda (Chess) 1970

The inventors of a bluesy, fuzz-drenched strain of psychedelic funk they dubbed "Black Rock," the band that would become Black Merda formed at Western High School and soon found themselves playing on records by everyone from Nathaniel Mayer ("I Had a Dream") to Edwin Starr ("Agent Double O Soul"). After having their minds blown by Muddy Waters' 1968 Electric Mud LP — and getting themselves signed to the label that released it — they waxed "Cynthy-Ruth," with lyrics as bitterly unforgiving as its guitars were bone-crushing. Black Merda is currently at work on a new album.

In the end, our Top 100 list was simply about having fun and picking our favorite music. Want to get in on the kicks? Here's your chance to kick in your two cents on what Detroit tracks are tops. Submit your top 20 songs

BUBBLING UNDER:

"25 Miles," Edwin Starr
"Accusatory," Hentchmen
"Ain't That Right Girl," Rocket 455
"Ass-n-Titties," DJ Assault
"Bad Time," Grand Funk
"Baby Fish Mouth," His Name is Alive
"Bags' Groove," Milt Jackson
"Bang Bang Boogie," Champtown
"Bawitdaba," Kid Rock
"The Bells," The Originals
"Boom Boom," John Lee Hooker
"Bored," Destroy All Monsters
"Bring the Boys Home," Freda Payne
"But It's All Right," J.J. Barnes
"Bug in the Bassbin," Innzerzone Orchestra
"Capricorn," the Go
"Cha Cha Twist," Detroit Cobras
"Chains of Love," J.J. Barnes
"Circus," The Sights
"Clementine," Jean Goldkette's Orchestra
"Could It Be I'm Falling in Love," the Spinners
"Cut Me Loose," Johnnie Mae Matthews
"Cynical Girl," Marshall Crenshaw
"Deeper," Boss
"Don't Play That Song," Aretha Franklin
"Find a Way," Dwele
"First I Look at the Purse," The Contours
"For Once in My Life," Stevie Wonder
"Fosters," Griot Galaxy
"Free Your Mind & Your Ass Will Follow," Funkadelic
"Function at the Junction," Shorty Long
"Get Ready," The Temptations
"Gino Is a Coward," Gino Washington
"Girls with the Boom," Proof
"Gutless Radio," Cinecyde
"Hanky Panky," Tommy James & the Shondells
"Heat Wave," Martha Reeves & the Vandellas
"Hypocrite," Negative Approach
"Higher and Higher," Jackie Wilson
"I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got," Bettye Lavette
"I'll Be Satisfied," Jackie Wilson
"I Know I'm Losing You," The Temptations
"I Love You," The Volumes
"I Need Love and Affection (Not the House of Correction)," Nathaniel Mayer & The Twilights
"I Need Your Love So Bad," Little Willie John
"I Never Loved a Man," Aretha Franklin
"I Say a Little Prayer," Aretha Franklin
"I Wanna Be Your Dog," The Stooges
"I'm Gonna Make You Love Me," The Supremes & The Temptations
"I'm Your Captain," Grand Funk
"It's a Shame," The Spinners
"Just My Imagination," The Temptations
"Make Love To Me," Maurice King & the Wolverines
"Mercy Mercy Me," Marvin Gaye
"Motor City Is Burning," John Lee Hooker
"Mustang Sally," Sir Mack Rice
"My Name Is," Eminem
"My True Love," Jack Scott
"My World Is Empty Without You," The Supremes
"Nowhere To Run," Martha Reeves & The Vandellas
"Oh, How Happy," Shades of Blue
"Ooo Baby Baby," Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
"Out Come the Freaks," Was (Not Was)
"People Have the Power," Patti (and Fred) Smith
"Piece of Shit/So American," The Mutants
"Please Mr. Foreman," Jo L. Carter
"Plowed," Sponge
"Rocket 69," Todd Rhodes and his Orchestra
"Sandwiches," Detroit Grand Pubahs
"School's Out," Alice Cooper
"Shakin' Street," The MC5
"Signed Sealed Delivered," Stevie Wonder
"Since I Lost My Baby," The Temptations
"Sir Duke," Stevie Wonder
"Sister Anne," The MC5
"Space Odyssey," Marcus Belgrave
"Spastik," Plastikman
"Stay," Kem
"Substance Abuse," F.U.S.E.
"Tear the Roof Off the Sucker," Parliament
"That's Why I Love You So," Jackie Wilson
"The Climax," Carl Craig
"This Old Heart of Mine," The Isley Brothers
"Under My Wheels," Alice Cooper
"Walk Like a Dinosaur," Was (Not Was)
"Want Ads," Honey Cone
"We're Gonna Be Friends," White Stripes
"What in the World's Come Over You," Jack Scott
"Who Do You Love," The Woolies
"Woodward Avenue," Yusef Lateef
"You Got What It Takes," Marv Johnson
"You Keep Me Hangin' On," The Supremes
"You're Pretty Good Looking for a Girl," White Stripes

Thank you to the voters: James Gallert, W. Kim Heron, Bill Holdship, Michael Hurtt, Herb Jordan, Dave Marsh (who didn't "officially" vote but sent a lucky list of 13, asserting he'd "hate himself in the morning" if he made it official ...), Brian Smith, Matthew Smith, Khary Kimani Turner, Walter Wasacz, Don Waller

Send comments to top100@metrotimes.com.

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