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Brothers Johnson - 1977 Right On Time

ARTIST: Brothers Johnson
ALBUM: Right On Time
YEAR: 1977
CD REISSUE: 1996, A&M, 75021 3147 2


LINEUP: George Johnson - lead and background vocals, bass, guitar * Louis Johnson - bass, guitar, background vocals

Lee Ritenour - guitars * David T. Walker - rhythm guitar * Michael Boddicker, Dave Grusin, Ian Underwood - synthesizer, keyboards * Ralph MacDonald - percussion * Harvey Mason Sr - drums * Stephen Kupka - baritone saxophone *Greg Adams - trumpet * Mic Gillette - trombone, trumpet * Emilio Castillo - tenor saxophone * Lenny Pickett - alto saxophone * Oren Waters, Alex Weir, Jim Gilstrap, Richard Heath, Alexandra Brown, Mortonette Jenkins, Stephanie Spruill - background vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Runnin' For Your Lovin' * 02 Free Yourself, Be Yourself * 03 Q * 04 Right On Time * 05 Strawberry Letter 23 * 06 Brother Man * 07 Never Leave You Lonely * 08 Love Is

This outfit came to us during the heyday of the disco era. Though their image conjured up thoughts of massive ballrooms and mirror balls, upon deeper inspection, the music was more than just your typical funk/disco hybrid. Of course TBJ were famous for their huge hit 'Strawberry Letter 23' which appears on this album, and if you've ever dissected that song, you'll hear all manner of styles. At the time, the brotherly pairing of George and Louis Johnson had the backing of Quincy Jones behind them, it seemed that Jones had the perfect vehicle to try and wrestle away the title of biggest funk/disco/rock band on the planet - that award going to Earth Wind And Fire. Big ambitions yes, but the Brothers Johnson would find themselves unable to be truly competitive, despite punching well above their weight for what was essentially a duo. 'Right On Time' was the duo's second LP, and features a veritable 'Who's who' of the L.A session scene. At the time, this album was one of the very first LP's I ever bought with my own cash, after inheriting a heap of second hand vinyl from my older siblings, so it holds a special in my collection.

The Songs
'Right On Time' is a mixture of styles. On a couple of tracks we get pure radio pop. Listen to the pairing of 'Free Yourself, Be Yourself' and the rather awesome sugar sweet ballad 'Love Is' for evidence. The opener 'Runnin' For Your Lovin' and the smash hit 'Strawberry Letter 23' are part pop too, but have high levels of soul/funk in them. The instrumental 'Q' and 'Never Leave You Lonely' both have a nice jazz fusion feel to it, with some funky doses too, but the Johnson boys really ramp it up on the title track 'Right On Time' and 'Brother Man', both funking up the neighborhood big time. Overall, the album is a good fun time romp.

In Summary
Funnily enough when looking back through the history books, TBJ were nominated in the Best New Artist Category for the 1976 Grammys, alongside (gasp!) Boston, Wild Cherry, Dr. Buzzard's Original 'Savannah' Band (who??) and the Starland Vocal Band. Would you believe the latter won! Who would've thought that a song about afternoon bonking would contribute to winning a Grammy! I still can't believe that lot beat out Boston! Sacrilege!! lol.. Not to be outdone, TBJ won a Grammy for best jazz instrumental with their song 'Q'. The duo released a handful of other albums continuing through into the 70's, but their appeal faded as the decade came to a close. Louis Johnson joined Quincy Jones and headed over into Michael Jackson territory, where they would join the Gloved One's gravy train well into the 80's. If you feel like listening to some funky jams on occasion, 'Right On Time' will deliver the goods!

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#1 | Eric on March 02 2010 17:53:57
'Strawberry Letter 23' is one of my all-time favorite singles from the 70's. Their 'Stomp' album from '79 (?) was very good as well. Dr Buzzards Original Savannah Band had a huge 1# hit with 'Cherchez La Femme' and one of the members branched off to form Kid Creole and The Coconuts in the 80's.

Nice to see this here George. We need more melodic soul/ RandB coverage . I'll have a couple write-ups in the same arena soon...
#2 | jefflynnefan on March 03 2010 04:35:41
Great album and band! "Strawberry Letter 23" is on one of my all time favorite soundtracks - "Jackie Brown" . Along with a whole lot of other great classic soul tracks. Highly recommended soundtrack and movie.
#3 | gdazegod on February 15 2014 15:14:52
Brothers Johnson - Love Is.
A superb song..
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