“Ain’t We Funkin’ Now,” asked the Brothers Johnson on the opening track of their third album collaboration with Quincy Jones, Blam!, released on August 4, 1978. They certainly were, with a record that took just four weeks to get them back to the top of the R&B album chart and the pop Top 10.
Blam! was another great showcase for the musicianship of co-vocalists George and Louis Johnson, who played lead guitar and bass respectively, together with the peerless production skills of “Q.” The A-list of players who guested on the album included such top-notch talents as David Foster, Larry Carlton, Harvey Mason, Steve Porcaro, and Michael Brecker.
This new 1978 set also added something of a space-age vibe to the brothers’ style, especially on one of its singles, “Ride-o-Rocket,” a futuristic composition by the great husband and wife team of Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson. Indeed, the last track, “Streetwave,” had what Billboard described as a “Star Wars flavored, cosmic journey.” Louis Johnson had writing credits on five songs, and Quincy on three.
The album didn’t offer up any big hit singles, with both “Ain’t We Funkin’ Now” and “Ride-o-Rocket” peaking at No.45 on the R&B chart. But the Brothers Johnson were a bona fide album act with a huge audience, who kept Blam! at No.1 on the R&B countdown for a full seven weeks, and helped it to No.7 pop.
Listen to the Funk Phenomenon playlist, featuring the Brothers Johnson, James Brown, Kool & the Gang and many more.
The duo marked the new release via a double-bill tour of the US with the Emotions, as Blam! became their third US platinum disc in a row, with another to come in 1980 with Light Up The Night. All of those albums stand as a worthy tribute to the duo and in particular to Louis Johnson, who so sadly passed away in 2015 at the age of just 60.
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