How's this for a start to the year? "The Thrill Is Gone," "Thank You (Faletinme Be Mice Elf Agin)," "The Ghetto," "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)," "Rainy Night in Georgia," and "Compared to What" all hit Billboard's Soul Singles during January. That's six distinct, indisputable classics that connected within the span of one month. Although the year's later gems were never again supplied in such a tightly concentrated period, July—a big month for Stevie Wonder—was pretty eventful as well. That's when "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours," the first single Stevie produced on his own, along with the Spinners' "It's a Shame," the first single he produced for another artist, reached the chart. Stevie wrote those two songs with Syreeta Wright and Lee Garrett, and the Funk Brothers backed both of them.

The artist who had the biggest 1970 was probably Curtis Mayfield. After a pair of Top Ten singles he produced and wrote as a member of the Impressions, he went solo with the monumental and equally successful "(Don't Worry) If There's a Hell Below We're All Going to Go." This was also the breakout year for Donny Hathaway, the house producer for Mayfield's Curtom label whose first solo single, "The Ghetto," was written with Leroy Hutson—a super-talented artist in his own right who took Mayfield's place in the Impressions.

Apart from the fact that dozens of R&B hits from 1970 remain vital and relevant 44 years later, the variety of them is nearly as remarkable. The year supplied happy love songs, elegantly sorrowful ballads, socially conscious material, and nasty funk jams in abundance.

Forty favorite singles that reached Billboard's Soul Singles chart during 1970, followed by a Spotify playlist and month-by-month top tens:

1. Sly & the Family Stone - "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" [Epic, 1/10]
2. Curtis Mayfield - "(Don't Worry) If There's a Hell Below We're All Going to Go" [Curtom, 11/28]
3. The Delfonics - "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)" [Philly Groove, 1/17]
4. The Spinners - "It's a Shame" [V.I.P., 7/25]
5. James Brown - "Super Bad" [King, 10/10]
6. Stevie Wonder - "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours" [Tamla, 7/4]
7. The 5 Stairsteps - "O-o-h Child" [Buddah, 4/18]
8. The Jackson 5 - "ABC" [Motown, 3/21]
9. Les McCann & Eddie Harris - "Compared to What" [Atlantic, 1/31]
10. Donny Hathaway - "The Ghetto" [Atco, 1/10]

11. Wilson Pickett - "Engine Number 9" [Atlantic, 10/3]
12. James Brown - "Get Up (I Feel Like Being Like a Sex Machine)" [King, 7/25]
13. The Delfonics - "Trying to Make a Fool of Me" [Philly Groove, 6/13]
14. The Jackson 5 - "The Love You Save" [Motown, 6/6]
15. B.B. King - "The Thrill Is Gone" [ABC, 1/3]
16. Smokey Robinson & the Miracles - "The Tears of a Clown" [Tamla, 10/24]
17. Edwin Starr - "War" [Gordy, 7/18]
18. The Whispers - "Seems Like I Gotta Do Wrong" [Soul Clock, 8/29]
19. Gladys Knight & the Pips - "You Need Love Like I Do (Don't You)" [Soul, 4/4]
20. Al Green - "Can't Get Next to You" [Hi, 11/7]

21. Aretha Franklin - "Call Me" [Atlantic, 2/14]
22. Funkadelic - "I Wanna Know If It's Good to You" [Westbound, 8/29]
23. Freda Payne - "Band of Gold" [Invictus, 4/4]
24. The Originals - "The Bells" [Soul, 2/14]
25. The Temptations - "Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today)" [Gordy, 5/30]
26. King Floyd - "Groove Me" [Chimneyville, 10/10]
27. Syl Johnson & the Pieces of Peace - "Concrete Reservation" [Twinight, 2/28]
28. Funkadelic - "I Got a Thing, You Got a Thing, Everybody's Got a Thing" [Westbound, 4/4]
29. Aretha Franklin - "Don't Play That Song" [Atlantic, 8/15]
30. The Supremes - "Up the Ladder to the Roof" [Motown, 3/14]

31. The Impressions - "Check Out Your Mind" [Curtom, 5/16]
32. Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band - "Express Yourself" [Warner, 8/29]
33. Aretha Franklin - "Spirit in the Dark" [Atlantic, 5/30]
34. Tyrone Davis - "Turn Back the Hands of Time" [Dakar, 3/21]
35. The Moments - "Love on a Two-Way Street" [Stang, 3/28]
36. The Jackson 5 - "I'll Be There" [Motown, 9/26]
37. Four Tops - "Still Water (Love)" [Motown, 9/5]
38. Rufus Thomas - "(Do The) Push and Pull" [Stax, 12/12]
39. The Supremes & Four Tops - "River Deep - Mountain High" [Motown, 12/12]
40. The Dells - "Open Up My Heart" [Cadet, 4/18]



January
Sly & the Family Stone - "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)"
The Delfonics - "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)"
Les McCann & Eddie Harris - "Compared to What"
Donny Hathaway - "The Ghetto"
B.B. King - "The Thrill Is Gone"
Brook Benton - "Rainy Night in Georgia"
Candi Staton - "I'm Just a Prisoner (Of Your Good Lovin')"
Dionne Warwick - "I'll Never Fall in Love Again"
Chairmen of the Board - "Give Me Just a Little More Time"
Cannonball Adderley Quintet - "Country Preacher"

February
Aretha Franklin - "Call Me"
The Originals - "The Bells"
Syl Johnson & the Pieces of Peace - "Concrete Reservation"
Little Sister - "You're the One"
The Isley Brothers - "Keep on Doin'"
Al Green - "You Say It"
Stevie Wonder - "Never Had a Dream Come True"
Eddie Floyd - "California Girl"
Jr. Walker & the All Stars - "Gotta Hold On to This Feeling"
Edwin Starr - "Time"

March
The Jackson 5 - "ABC"
The Supremes - "Up the Ladder to the Roof"
Tyrone Davis - "Turn Back the Hands of Time"
The Moments - "Love on a Two-Way Street"
Jerry Butler - "I Could Write a Book"
Lou Rawls - "You've Made Me So Very Happy"
James Brown - "Funky Drummer"
The Persians - "Detour"
Gene Faith - "My Baby's Missing"
The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band - "Love Land"

April
The 5 Stairsteps - "O-o-h Child"
Gladys Knight & the Pips - "You Need Love Like I Do (Don't You)"
Funkadelic - "I Got a Thing, You Got a Thing, Everybody's Got a Thing"
Freda Payne - "Band of Gold"
The Dells - "Open Up My Heart"
The Meters - "Chicken Strut"
Bobby Womack - "More Than I Can Stand"
Buddy Miles & the Freedom Express - "Them Changes"
Clarence Carter - "I Can't Leave Your Love Alone"
Little Milton - "Baby I Love You"

May
The Temptations - "Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today)"
The Impressions - "Check Out Your Mind"
Aretha Franklin - "Spirit in the Dark"
The Lost Generation - "The Sly, Slick, and the Wicked"
James Brown - "Brother Rapp"
Luther Ingram - "Ain't That Loving You (For More Reasons Than One)"
Candi Staton - "Sweet Feeling"
Dee Dee Warwick - "She Didn't Know (She Kept on Talking)"
Diana Ross - "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)"
Rare Earth - "Get Ready"

June
The Delfonics - "Trying to Make a Fool of Me"
The Jackson 5 - "The Love You Save"
Marvin Gaye - "The End of Our Road"
Ike & Tina Turner - "I Want to Take You Higher"
Johnnie Taylor - "Steal Away"
Al Green - "Right Now, Right Now"
The Three Degrees - "Maybe"
The Glass House - "I Can't Be You (You Can't Be Me)"
Smokey Robinson & the Miracles - "Who's Gonna Take the Blame"
The Meters - "Hand Clapping Song"

July
The Spinners - "It's a Shame"
Stevie Wonder - "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours"
James Brown - "Get Up (I Feel Like Being Like a Sex Machine)"
Edwin Starr - "War"
Major Lance - "Stay Away from Me (I Love You Too Much)"
Clarence Carter - "Patches"
Jr. Walker & the All Stars - "Do You See My Love (For You Growing)"
Ronnie Dyson - "Why Can't I Touch You?"
The Chi-Lites - "I Like Your Lovin' (Do You Like Mine)"
The Supremes - "Everybody's Got the Right to Love"

August
The Whispers - "Seems Like I Gotta Do Wrong"
Funkadelic - "I Wanna Know If It's Good to You"
Aretha Franklin - "Don't Play That Song"
Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band - "Express Yourself"
Diana Ross - "Ain't No Mountain High Enough"
Rufus Thomas - "Sixty Minute Man"
B.B. King - "Hummingbird"
Wilson Pickett - "She Said Yes"
Mavis Staples - "I Have Learned to Do Without You"
Rare Earth - "(I Know) I'm Losing You"

September
The Jackson 5 - "I'll Be There"
Four Tops - "Still Water (Love)"
The Delfonics - "When You Get Right Down to It"
Ann Peebles - "Part Time Love"
The Impressions - "(Baby) Turn On to Me"
Isaac Hayes - "I Stand Accused"
The Meters - "A Message from the Meters"
Bobby Byrd - "I Need Help (I Can't Do It Alone)"
The Three Degrees - "I Do Take You"
Kool & the Gang - "Funky Man"

October
James Brown - "Super Bad"
Wilson Pickett - "Engine Number 9"
Smokey Robinson & the Miracles - "The Tears of a Clown"
King Floyd - "Groove Me"
Stevie Wonder - "Heaven Help Us All"
The Isley Brothers - "Get into Something"
Johnnie Taylor - "I Am Somebody"
Tyrone Davis - "Let Me Back In"
Luther Ingram - "To the Other Man"
O.V. Wright - "Ace of Spade"

November
Curtis Mayfield - "(Don't Worry) If There's a Hell Below We're All Going to Go"
Al Green - "Can't Get Next to You"
Gladys Knight & the Pips - "If I Were Your Woman"
The Supremes - "Stoned Love"
B.B. King - "Chains and Things"
Aretha Franklin - "Border Song (Holy Moses)"
The Temptations - "Hum and Dance Along"
The Chi-Lites - "Are You Woman? (Tell Me So)"
Lee Dorsey - "Yes We Can"
Little Sister - "Somebody's Watching You"

December
Rufus Thomas - "(Do The) Push and Pull"
The Supremes & Four Tops - "River Deep - Mountain High"
Jackie Wilson - "(I Can Feel Those Vibrations) This Love Is Real"
Joe Simon - "Your Time to Cry"
Jackie Moore - "Precious, Precious"
The Main Ingredient - "I'm So Proud"
Edwin Starr - "Stop the War Now"
The Staple Singers - "Love Is Plentiful"
The Isley Brothers - "Freedom"
Brook Benton - "Shoes"