The 20 Best 1970s Funk Music Tracks: You Don’t Want to Miss

by Patria

In the vast realm of music, certain genres stand out not only for their distinctive sounds but also for their profound influence on the evolution of musical styles. One such genre that carved its unique niche in the 1970s and continues to resonate today is funk. To truly appreciate the roots of hip hop music, it is essential to delve into the depths of funk music, a genre that laid the foundation for many contemporary music styles. In this article, we will journey through the sonic landscape of the 20 best 1970s funk music tracks, exploring the essence of funk and its profound impact on the musical landscape.

Understanding the Funk Music

Funk, with its infectious rhythms and soulful melodies, emerged as a powerful force in the 1970s, radiating energy and charisma. At its core, funk is a genre characterized by its emphasis on rhythm, syncopation, and a strong groove. Rooted in African-American musical traditions, funk incorporates elements of jazz, soul, and R&B, creating a dynamic and irresistible sound that captivates listeners.

As we embark on our exploration of funk music, it’s crucial to grasp the genre’s role in shaping the landscape of hip hop music. Funk laid down the rhythmic foundation that hip hop artists would later build upon, with its innovative use of drum breaks, basslines, and energetic instrumentation. The rhythmic complexity and danceable beats of funk became a vital source of inspiration for the pioneers of hip hop, shaping the genre’s evolution and contributing to its distinct identity.

Unearthing the 1970s Funk Music

The 1970s marked a golden era for funk music, with artists pushing the boundaries of creativity and innovation. This decade witnessed the rise of iconic funk bands and artists who not only dominated the charts but also left an indelible mark on the history of music. From the Parliament-Funkadelic collective to the soulful sounds of Curtis Mayfield, the 1970s were a breeding ground for funk experimentation.

In the realm of funk, artists explored new sonic territories, incorporating elements of psychedelia, jazz, and rock into the mix. The result was a kaleidoscope of sounds that defied traditional genre boundaries. The 1970s funk scene became a melting pot of musical influences, giving birth to a diverse array of sub-genres and styles within the overarching funk umbrella.

The 20 Best 1970s Funk Music Tracks

Now, let’s embark on a sonic journey through the 20 best 1970s funk music tracks that encapsulate the essence of this vibrant era. Each track selected for this list exemplifies the infectious grooves, masterful instrumentation, and soulful expression that define funk music.

1. “Superfly” by Curtis Mayfield

Kicking off our list is Curtis Mayfield’s “Superfly,” a track that not only served as the soundtrack for the iconic film of the same name but also encapsulates the socially conscious lyricism and groovy instrumentals that define Mayfield’s contribution to funk.

2. “Flash Light” by Parliament-Funkadelic

No exploration of 1970s funk would be complete without the cosmic funk of Parliament-Funkadelic. “Flash Light” stands out with its spacey synthesizers, infectious rhythm, and the indomitable presence of George Clinton.

3. “Play That Funky Music” by Wild Cherry

Wild Cherry’s “Play That Funky Music” became a disco-funk anthem, characterized by its catchy refrain and dance-inducing rhythm. This track exemplifies the crossover appeal of funk, permeating not only the funk scene but also mainstream disco.

4. “Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof off the Sucker)” by Parliament

Parliament returns to our list with “Give Up the Funk,” a track that showcases the band’s ability to blend cosmic funk with irresistible dance elements. The infectious energy of this track has made it a timeless funk classic.

5. “Brick House” by Commodores

The Commodores’ “Brick House” is a funky celebration of rhythm and soul, with its memorable bassline and Lionel Richie’s charismatic vocals. This track embodies the funk spirit with its lively instrumentation and playful lyrics.

6. “Fire” by Ohio Players

Ohio Players set the funk ablaze with “Fire,” a track known for its sultry guitar riffs and sensual energy. This exemplifies the funk genre’s ability to explore a spectrum of emotions while maintaining its signature groove.

7. “Tell Me Something Good” by Rufus featuring Chaka Khan

Rufus and Chaka Khan’s collaboration on “Tell Me Something Good” is a testament to the fusion of funk and rock influences. The track’s distinctive guitar riff and Chaka Khan’s soulful vocals create a dynamic and memorable listening experience.

8. “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine” by James Brown

James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, makes an appearance with “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine,” a track that showcases Brown’s unparalleled ability to command the stage with his energetic performance and tight, funky instrumentation.

9. “Boogie Wonderland” by Earth, Wind & Fire with The Emotions

Earth, Wind & Fire’s collaboration with The Emotions on “Boogie Wonderland” is a disco-infused funk masterpiece. The track’s vibrant orchestration and infectious rhythm make it a quintessential dance anthem of the era.

10. “Give It to Me Baby” by Rick James

Rick James, the punk-funk maestro, delivers a dose of funky decadence with “Give It to Me Baby.” This track is a prime example of James’ ability to infuse funk with a rebellious and edgy attitude.

11. “Pick Up the Pieces” by Average White Band

Average White Band’s “Pick Up the Pieces” is an instrumental funk classic, celebrated for its tight brass section and infectious groove. This track exemplifies the power of funk to captivate audiences without the need for lyrics.

12. “Love Rollercoaster” by Ohio Players

Ohio Players return to our list with “Love Rollercoaster,” a track known for its funky guitar licks and distinctive vocal stylings. The track’s dynamic shifts and energetic instrumentation make it a rollercoaster of funk brilliance.

13. “Shining Star” by Earth, Wind & Fire

Earth, Wind & Fire once again graces our list with “Shining Star,” a soulful funk anthem that showcases the band’s ability to infuse spirituality and positivity into their music. The track’s uplifting message and vibrant instrumentation make it a timeless classic.

14. “Super Freak” by Rick James

Rick James makes a second appearance with “Super Freak,” a track that not only became a chart-topping hit but also solidified James’ reputation as a pioneer of punk-funk. The song’s infectious hooks and bold lyrics have made it a cultural touchstone.

15. “Dance to the Music” by Sly and the Family Stone

Sly and the Family Stone’s “Dance to the Music” is a funk-rock anthem that encourages listeners to do just what the title suggests. With its exuberant horn section and infectious energy, this track captures the communal spirit of funk.

16. “It’s Your Thing” by The Isley Brothers

The Isley Brothers deliver the funk with “It’s Your Thing,” a track characterized by its gritty guitar riffs and powerful vocals. This track exemplifies the assertive and confident attitude often found in funk music.

17. “Love and Happiness” by Al Green

Al Green’s “Love and Happiness” adds a touch of soul to our funk journey. The track’s smooth groove and Green’s soulful delivery make it a standout in the intersection of funk and R&B.

18. “Jungle Boogie” by Kool & the Gang

Kool & the Gang’s “Jungle Boogie” is a funky instrumental that became a staple in the funk genre. With its distinctive horn stabs and infectious rhythm, this track is a testament to Kool & the Gang’s mastery of the funk sound.

19. “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” by The Temptations

The Temptations’ “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” is a cinematic funk epic, known for its extended instrumental passages and introspective lyrics. This track showcases the evolution of funk into a more expansive and intricate form.

20. “I Can’t Stand the Rain” by Ann Peebles

Ann Peebles’ “I Can’t Stand the Rain” closes our list with a touch of soulful funk. The track’s emotive vocals and atmospheric production make it a poignant and memorable contribution to the funk genre.

See Also: The 15 Best 1980s Funk Music


As we conclude our exploration of the 20 best 1970s funk music tracks, it becomes evident that the impact of funk on the musical landscape is immeasurable. From the tight grooves of James Brown to the cosmic escapades of Parliament-Funkadelic, funk music of the 1970s not only defined an era but also laid the groundwork for subsequent genres, including hip hop.

Its influence continues to reverberate in contemporary music, proving that the spirit of funk is timeless and its groove everlasting. As we celebrate the funk classics of the 1970s, we honor the musicians and artists who crafted these masterpieces, leaving an indelible mark on the history of music.

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