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Best Randy Crawford Songs: 10 Classics From Soul’s Best Kept Secret
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List & Guides

Best Randy Crawford Songs: 10 Classics From Soul’s Best Kept Secret

Finding greater success overseas than at home, the best Randy Crawford songs reveal a unique voice that deserved to command the globe.

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Randy Crawford’s beautifully soulful, cut-crystal voice became famous in 1979; by 1982 her success in the UK was so marked that she won that year’s BRIT Award for Best British Female Vocalist – which is curious, as Veronica “Randy” Crawford was born in Macon, Georgia, and grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio. But her talent was irresistible to Brits, even when it was sometimes overlooked in her own country. US musicians were, however, always in awe of her unique gift, and Crawford has guest starred with acts as diverse as The Crusaders, Cannonball Adderley, Joe Sample, Rick Springfield and Quincy Jones. These ten best Randy Crawford songs show off her remarkably moving vocal talent and display her unmatched skill for delivering tunes that cross musical, emotional and geographical borders.

Listen to the best of Randy Crawford here, and check out our best Randy Crawford songs, below.

10: You Might Need Somebody (from ‘Secret Combination’, 1981)

Produced by Tommy LiPuma, whose credits take in everyone from George Benson to Yellow Magic Orchestra and Marc Almond, Crawford’s Secret Combination album was a smash in the UK, its success led by You Might Need Somebody, which made it to No.11 in the singles chart. Though originally a US Top 60 release for Turley Richards in 1980, Crawford’s cut became definitive, and set the template for the hit 1997 version by English singer Shola Ama. Though the groove is relaxed, there’s an alluring pensive element in Crawford’s voice as she warns a lover not to burn their bridges. It’s sung with such skill and conviction, who would argue with her?

9: I Stand Accused (from ‘Raw Silk’, 1979)

There had been many versions of Jerry Butler’s classic confession since he recorded his brother Billy’s song in 1964, but there was certainly room for another, especially if delivered with the supreme confidence and aplomb as Crawford’s interpretation. Oh yes, she can testify, as she proves as I Stand Accused progresses, but she’s totally convincing even before she’s turned on all her astonishing firepower.

8: Take It Away From Her (Put It On Me) (from ‘Miss Randy Crawford’, 1977)

Crawford delivers a song written by deep soul singer Paul Kelly and adapts it to her style beautifully. The chirping guitar chops and handclaps retain some Southern soul flavour behind Crawford’s voice, making Take It Away From Her (Put It On Me) a highlight of her superb second album, Miss Randy Crawford.

7: This ’Ole Heart Of Mine (from ‘Nightline’, 1983)

Not The Isley Brothers’ Motown hit of a similar title, but a tune penned by Womack & Womack, whose light, elegantly soulful approach fits Crawford perfectly. A standout of her 1983 album, Nightline, This ’Ole Heart Of Mine deserved more exposure.

6: Almaz (from ‘Abstract Emotions’, 1986)

Crawford wrote this deeply touching song about her neighbour. The story of a young mother, Almaz, her husband and her baby, who were forced to find a new life after becoming refugees, it explains how love survives war, uncertainty and the loss of one’s roots. One of the best Randy Crawford songs of the 80s, Almaz spent 17 weeks on the UK chart and was a big hit in Japan, though, surprisingly, was not picked for single release in the US.

5: Half Steppin’ (from ‘Miss Randy Crawford’, 1977)

Another must-hear from Crawford’s delightful sophomore album, Half Steppin’ is a tale of domestic upset voiced with considerable restraint, which renders it all the more impactful: this is considered takedown, not sudden rage.

4: Hymn Of The Big Wheel (from ‘Every Kind Of Mood: Randy, Randi, Randee’, 1997)

A different sound from Crawford in the 90s – but her voice is still fully in command of this electronic gem, originally recorded by Massive Attack with reggae legend Horace Andy. It’s great to hear her delivering this environmental message for the globe; together with Almaz and her cover of Trade Winds (from Secret Combination, 1981), Hymn Of The Big Wheel reveals Crawford to be a conscious, thought-provoking artist who injects passion and humanity into songs with profound intentions.

3: Rainy Night In Georgia (from ‘Secret Combination’, 1981)

You can hear a touch of Brook Benton’s 1967 hit version of this Toy Joe White standard in Crawford’s delivery, but just a touch: the start of the second verse, the relaxed, slightly resigned note in her voice. But the phrasing is entirely Crawford’s own, along with that tenderness and that ability to place each word exactly where she wants it. Easily ranking among the best Randy Crawford songs, her version of Rainy Night In Georgia is a master class in the art of jazz-soul vocals, and it deserved to be an even bigger hit than UK No.18 in 1981. Watch the rain falling, listen to this, and you’re right there in Georgia with her.

2: Street Life (The Crusaders, featuring Randy Crawford) (from ‘Street Life’, 1979)

Crawford had been recording since 1972 and had gigged internationally, but had to wait seven years to catch this particularly spectacular break: a chance to front jazz-funk group The Crusaders on their now-legendary silky dancefloor groover Street Life. This utterly classy record became a club smash on both sides of the Atlantic, making No.4 in the UK, and it has enjoyed revivals in every decade since, notably as part of Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown soundtrack. Randy had arrived.

1: One Day I’ll Fly Away (from ‘Now We May Begin’, 1980)

Produced by Stix Hooper, Wilton Felder and Joe Sample of The Crusaders – doubtless in return for her glorious vocals on Street Life – the poignant slow jam One Day I’ll Fly Away was not the most obvious track to become Crawford’s first solo hit in the UK, but it was massive, hitting No.2 and kept from the top spot only by a peak-era Police going straight to No.1 with Don’t Stand So Close To Me. Crawford handles the song delicately, never overselling it, and leaving the listener with a bittersweet feeling. Topping our list of the best Randy Crawford songs, One Day I’ll Fly Away gave wings to her solo career.

You’ve heard the best Randy Crawford songs, now find out the best soul songs of all time.

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