Our Top 10 Sam & Dave songs list looks back at the career of the great Sam & Dave. The legendary duo Sam and Dave began their career in 1961. Ther full names consisted of Sam Moore and Dave Prater. Their earliest musical performances came about when they performed gospel music in their own homes and local churches. It was on this circuit where they first met. They were officially formed after one night singing together at a club. The same night they were discovered by singer and producer Steve Aliamo who quickly signed them to Marlin Records.
After releasing two singles on this label in 1962 they got signed to Roulette Records by Henry Stone. They released six 45’s over the course of the next two years on this label. Despite receiving radio airplay, they did not obtain much in the way of chart success.
In 1964 they moved to Atlantic records after being introduced to Jerry Wrexler. He asked Stax records to work with them. During their time on Stax they met Isaac Hayes and Dave Porter who would become their main songwriters who were responsible for their biggest hits. They were also very instrumental in terms of the musical direction that Sam & Dave went in. They had their first chart success in 1966 with “Hold on I’m Comin.”
Over the course of the 1960’s, they continued to have further success with the release of several successful singles and LP’s. However, after a decade long stint, Sam and Dave split in 1970 due to Moore’s dissatisfaction with their output. However, they reunited the following year following unsuccessful attempts to be solo artists.
They then went on to enjoy a further decade of relative success over the course of the seventies. Despite failing to attract the attention of another major label after Atlantic, there was much demand for their live shows, which had gained them a reputation over the years as being very lively and entertaining.
In 1974, they recorded their first album of new material in seven years titled Back at Cha. They continued on for the next few years and experienced a resurgence in popularity when they appeared in the 1979 film The Blues Brothers. That same year they actually appeared as the opening act for punk rock band The Clash on their US tour, proving that they still had relevance despite having been around for a long time. They performed their last show together in 1981 on New Year’s Eve in San Francisco.
In 1982 Prater formed an new incarnation of Sam & Dave with a singer named Sam Daniels. Moore was not happy about this and unsuccessfully tried to take legal action. However, he did stop them from releasing a recorded medley of their hits under the name. This was perhaps why they did not proceed to record anything else, being a purely live act. Prater died in a car crash in 1988.Moore on the other hand, embarked on a solo career which he has been on ever since.
They recorded five full length studio albums over a nine-year period from 1966 to 1975. They have been inducted into four Halls of fame: Rock n Roll, Vocal Group, Memphis Music and Rhythm and Blues. They also won a Grammy for their song “Soul Man” and in 2019 received a Lifetime Achievement Award.
# 10 – You Don’t Know Like I Know
Kicking off this Sam & Dave Songs list is what became the first of a string of hot singles for Stax Records released in 1966. Their first hit to be written by Isaac Hayes and Dave Porter, once the duo put their own stamp on it, it became a true piece of golden soul. It entered the R&B with much gusto, reaching the rather impressive (for an early single) position of number twenty-nine.
# 9 – Said I Wasn’t Gonna Tell Nobody
Hayes and Porter were essentially like the third and fourth members of Sam & Dave, if that makes any sense. After signing with Atlantic, the singing duo would come down to Memphis every few months and much activity would take place. This track is taken from 1966’s Double Dynamite and was another hit on the R&B charts where it reached number eight.
# 8 – You Don’t Know What You Mean to Me
This next track was taken from the duo’s fourth album released in 1968 titled I Thank You. It was the album’s second single after the release of the title track and was not as successful on the charts, only reaching number twenty on the R&B charts and forty-eight on the billboard. This is unfortunate as it is a great track.
# 7 – When Something is Wrong with my Baby
Written once again by Hayes and Porter, this classic soul ballad was released as a single in 1967. It was, like many of the duo’s singles a success more within their niche genre, reaching number two on the R&B charts and being a moderate success within the music scene as whole, reaching number forty-two on the Billboard. There are also other notable versions of the song by Johnny Gill and the Australian singing duo of Jimmy Barnes and John Farnham.
# 6 – You Got Me Hummin
Up next is another song written by Hayes and Porter which has been recorded by several artists and which was popularized by this version. They released it as a standalone single in 1966. It was yet another of the duo’s singles which charted high on the R&B charts where it reached number seven but significantly lower on the Billboard where it got to seventy-seven. Several other artists within the soul genre went on to release their own respective versions of it. Billy Joel released several versions of it, the first being with the band The Hassles in 1967.
# 5 – Hold On, I’m Comin
At number five we have yet another Hayes and Porter-penned song. It is the title track of the duo’s 1966 debut album. It topped the R&B charts and got to number twenty-one on the Billboard. As one of the most iconic soul numbers of all time, it has been covered by countless artists over the years with the most notable version being by Aretha Franklin.
# 4 – Soothe Me
Next is a track of which the live version was a big hit for the duo. It is a cover version of the Sam Cooke song originally released in 1962. It was featured on Double Dynamite. The live singles highest chart position was number sixteen on the R&B charts. It charted at number thirty-five in the UK and at the rather low position of fifty-six on the US Billboard. The song has been covered by a wide variety of other artists, most notably Rod Stewart.
# 3 – Soul Sister Brown Sugar
Here is yet another track written by Hayes and Porter. It was featured on the 1969 LP The Best of Sam and Dave. As their first single of that year, it saw the duo return to the R&B top twenty and reached number fifteen in the UK. This track has also been covered several times most recently by rock band The Woggles in 2004.
# 2 – I Thank You
Just off the top spot is a track written by you guessed it, Isaac Hayes and David Porter! It is the title track to their fourth album released in 1968. Its highest chart position was number four on the US R & B charts. On the Billboard it reached number nine and in the UK, it peaked at number thirty-four. ZZ Top had a big hit with their cover of it in 1979. Other artists to have covered the song include Bon Jovi and Tom Jones.
# 1 – Soul Man
At the number one spot we have a track that was written by Hayes and Porter with lyrics that were influenced by the civil rights movement. It is the partial title track of the duo’s third album Soul Men released in 1967. Upon its release it reached number one on both the US R & B charts and the Cash Box Top 100. It also reached number two on the US Billboard Top 100 and the Canadian RPM Top Singles. In addition to this it charted in the UK where it reached number twenty-four. The song has been covered by many artists, most notably by Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi as The Blues Brothers.
Updated November 8, 2023
Top 10 Sam & Dave Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
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