A funk explosion was truly taking place thanks to the Brothers Johnson in the summer of 1976. The sibling Los Angeles duo of George and Louis Johnson entered both the Billboard Hot 100 and its Hot Soul Singles charts on August 14 that year with one of their killer early dance tracks, “Get The Funk Out Ma Face.”
The brothers, who played in Billy Preston’s band in the first half of the 1970s, had emerged in their own right the year before. They were the featured artists on master producer Quincy Jones’ top 20 R&B hit “Is It Love That We’re Missin’.” The relationship with Quincy would prove long and fruitful.
Their own debut album Look Out For #1, produced by Jones, spent all of June 1976 at the top of the R&B album chart. It was a superb example of top-class musicianship, with George’s lead guitar, Louis’ bass, their shared lead vocals and the contributions of top players such as Dave Grusin, Billy Cobham, Harvey Mason, Ralph Macdonald and Ernie Watts.
During that month-long reign, the album’s lead single “I’ll Be Good To You” hit No.1 R&B and became a crossover smash, spending three weeks at No.3 on the Hot 100. It was the Brothers Johnson’s biggest-ever pop success, bigger even than the song that became their biggest UK anthem, 1980’s “Stomp!”
A flagship 12″
The second single from Look Out For #1 was the brilliant funk workout “Get The Funk Out Ma Face,” which rang out on R&B stations all over America that summer and was perfect for the new 12-inch single craze.
The track went to No.4 R&B and No. 30 pop, and although the brothers wouldn’t make their UK chart debut until 1977 with another of their all-time greats, “Strawberry Letter 23,” the “Get The Funk Out Ma Face” single made great waves among the soul cognoscenti. As they sang, “funkin’ is a thing that all of us release.”
“Get The Funk Out Ma Face” is on Strawberry Letter 23, The Very Best of the Brothers Johnson, which can be bought here.
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