The Brothers Johnson was the name of a moderately successful ‘70’s funk band made up of brothers George “Lightnin’ Licks” Johnson on guitar and Louis “Thunder Thumbs” Johnson on bass (their nicknames, not mine). It’s also the collective alter ego for my high school friend Duck and I from time to time when a couple of OGs such as ourselves get together to bust out some old-school, hard-core ‘70’s funk jams (>>>looking around…checking for snickering…okay let’s continue).
Prior to forming their own group, the brothers (the real ones, that is) had both been players in Billy Preston’s band, and during the brief Brothers Johnson era Louis also played bass on a couple of fairly well-known Michael Jackson albums, Off The Wall and Thriller. Hmm, didn’t know that. They had just three big hits: ‘I’ll Be Good To You’ which reached #3 on the Billboard chart in 1976, ‘Strawberry Letter 23’ which in 1977 rose to #5, and their last notable recording in 1980 ‘Stomp!’ which peaked at Billboard #7. They also had another pretty descriptive tune, ‘Get The Funk Out Ma Face’, which enjoyed some renewed attention from its inclusion as Jackie Moon’s driving music in “Semi-Pro.” That song’s title is also a sentiment to which Duck and I must occasionally relate when peeps are crowding us with weak-ass requests unworthy of our serious funkitude (>>>giggling…eye-rolling…never mind, press on).
Today we’re going to be featuring the first one of the Brothers’ list, ‘I’ll Be Good To You’, and I’m going to tell you why: Later this summer, along with a host of other high school crew, I’ll be attending the wedding of Jordan, the son of my good friends Jody & Steven, and his lovely bride-to-be Jenn. Jordan, the first member of the next generation of our friend group who I’ve literally known since he was a baby* – and who’s now a teacher and wildly successful high school hoops coach – is simply one of the nicest, most kind-hearted young men I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching grow up. And, for some reason, I can imagine him singing this lightly funkadelic tune to Jenn as he was proposing (I know, that’s maybe a little ridiculous, but look, it was written by the esteemed Smokey Robinson, and just check out the lyrics, they’re perfect. No? Alright fine, it’s weird).
When the upcoming wedding was first announced it should be known that Duck and I did volunteer (okay, beg) to work the reception and spin the funkmeister tunes for which we’ve become renowned (if only to ourselves). Now, the fact that we were ultimately turned down in favor of an outstanding wedding band (we might not have been able to fit the gig in around our other bookings anyway) should be seen as no major funkin’ deterrent. Rest assured (and be forewarned): The Brothers Johnson will be in the house! (>>>derisive laughter…just start walking away…don’t look back).
*With baby Jordan. Of the two of us he’s more recognizable to our current selves.