The Brothers Johnson – 1976 – Look Out For #1
Review by Andre S. Grindle
When funk was just entering the music scene in the late 60’s/early 70’s it was as a new hybrid music created by a number of different people with an already establish sound based in other styles such as James Brown (soul and doo-wop), Earth Wind & Fire (jazz), War, Santana and Mandrill (psychedelic latin rock) and Sly & The Family Stone who were based in a mixture of soul and psychedelic rock. Much like jazz and hip-hop later funk started out a lot like gumbo-a lot of things being blended together by a single source. And Louis and George Johnson were there from the start,playing with Billy Preston in their teens and getting hooked up with Quincy Jones for his Mellow Madness album. Their style was so enjoyable and strong that they became one of Quincy’s first satillite acts and their debut album dropped about a year later. By that time they debuted at a time when funk music had started to become an established sound in and of itself and the Johnson’s first album was a big part of that change.
A1 I’ll Be Good To You 4:44
A2 Thunder Thumbs And Lightnin’ Licks 4:51
A3 Get The Funk Out Ma Face 2:27
A4 Tomorrow 2:58
A5 Free And Single 4:07
B1 Come Together 4:12
B2 Land Of Ladies 4:30
B3 Dancin’ And Prancin’ 3:01
B4 The Devil 3:40
Considering how innovative Louis Johnson’s bass sound would become in the future it’s amazing to hear the strong Sly Ston aspect in the overall sound of this album,rhytmically and melodically although the closely knit guitar/bass licks and thumps are very much theirs though very much out of the Larry Graham tradition. I’ve been listening to “I’ll Be Good To You” for years but it just hit me how much the pop melody and thumping rhythm owes to the sound of the Family Stone. In fact aside from the mild tempo’d jazzy instrumental “Tomorrow” this album is all funk. There’s straight ahead dance/funk of “Get The Funk Outta Ma Face“,”Dancin And Prancin” and “Free And Single“-all of which contain tons of clever harmony changes and reverb from the bottoms up. Few songs could sound as “mid 70’s funk” as these songs do. The powerful instrumental “Thunder Thumbs And Lightnin’ Licks” showcases their tight bass/guitar sound with the the horns, synthesizers and drums blaring away in and around George and Lewis on…another straight ahead dance-funk jam.
On “The Land Of Ladies” the jazzier element of their sound comes out as the harmony takes on a sleeker quality and the tempo goes up and down. With Harvey Mason, Billy Cobham and Don Grusin along for the right that’s not the least bit surprising. Now on a cover of “Come Together“, already a hardcore bluesy funk groove on the original and their own “The Devil“,with it’s nasty echoes hissess and evil laughs the funk gets about as swampy,slow and deep as the Johnson’s would ever get. Now whenever I see a TV show of any short of this era I kee hearing tracks from this album played again and again during party scenes and other times the album cover posted on the cover of someone’s wall. This was a huge funk hit at the time and one of the best debut albums anyone of any genre could ask for. It found George, Louis and everyone involved playing, writing and producing to the best of their ability to create an album that was both highly singable and that grooved as hard as it could.
Five star funk all the way.