Strawberry Letter 23 Live

Strawberry Letter 23 Live

This live recording was made on Memorial Day 2003, when George and Louis Johnson reunited in Oakland, California, for KBLX’s annual Stone Soul Picnic, but the band sounds so good that you’d never know this wasn’t taken from one of their ‘70s shows. The Johnsons' instrumental interplay is still sharp and groovy, and their vocal harmonies are still dreamy. The best songs here are the duo’s biggest hits: “I’ll Be Good to You,” “Get the Funk Out Ma Face” and “Strawberry Letter 23.” Because the KBLX Picnic is more of a celebration of the era rather than of one group’s material, the Johnsons also provide renditions of beloved radio funk anthems by Sly Stone and Cameo. While that looseness has the potential for disaster, the grooves of “Family Affair” and “If You Want Me to Stay” are perfectly matched to the Johnsons’ style. They also nail their version of Cameo’s “Word Up.” The success of these cover versions shows that while the Brothers may have only been on top for a few years, they will forever be part of an ever-evolving funk continuum.

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