Greatest Songs, #477: “Super Freak” by Rick James

Album: Street Songs (Gordy Records)
Year: 1981
Written by: Rick James & Alonzo Miller
Billboard Hot 100: #16

 From Rolling Stone:

James wasn’t exactly modest about his ambitions. As he declared in 1981, “I wanna make Paul McCartney white-boy money!” He got it with the self-described “punk funk” of “Super Freak.” He enlisted Motown vets the Temptations on vocals.

From allmusic:

As Rick James recounted in the liner notes of his 1995 double-CD anthology Bustin’ Out, the classic “Super Freak” started off as a joke. While he was playing his bass, James was laughing at how some people danced. Who would think that James amusing himself would lead to a classic song? “Super Freak” works for a lot of reasons. The spacy synths, an all-encompassing raucous energy, the relaxed yet insistent guitar, steady bass, and, of course, there’s Rick James’ vocal. The conduit to debauchery, with each line James seemed to relish telling the story of a woman who was loose and a walking party. Not unlike a lot of gals, the “Super Freak” was shared with the boys in the band. Not surprisingly, James was the “all-time” favorite. The Temptations, who assisted him on his Street Songs and Throwin’ Down, do the backing vocals here. A listener can hear Richard Street and Melvin Franklin having the most fun singing about this trashy girl. Daniel LeMalle‘s nasty sax solo is heard on the fade. […] While later songs got more explicit in detailing “freaks,” “Super Freak” proves that a lot of humor and a wink might work even better.