Strawberry Letter 23

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"Strawberry Letter 23"
Single by The Brothers Johnson
from the album Right on Time
B-side "Dancin' and Prancin'"
Released July 12, 1977
Format 7", 12"
Genre R&B/Funk
Length 3:39 (single edit)
4:59 (album version)
5:04 (12" single version)
Label A&M
Writer(s) Shuggie Otis
Producer(s) Quincy Jones
The Brothers Johnson singles chronology
"Runnin' for Your Lovin'"
(1977)
"Strawberry Letter 23"
(1977)
"Ain't We Funkin' Now"
(1978)

"Strawberry Letter 23" is a song written by Shuggie Otis, and best known by the version recorded by The Brothers Johnson.

It is said that Otis wrote the song for a girlfriend who used strawberry-scented paper when she wrote letters to him, but Otis himself says that it's not true. He recorded it for his 1971 album Freedom Flight.

George Johnson of the Brothers Johnson was dating one of Otis' cousins when he came across the album Freedom Flight. The group recorded "Strawberry Letter 23" for their 1977 album Right on Time, which was produced by Quincy Jones, and the album went platinum. They recorded the song in a funkier, more dance-oriented vein than the original Otis version. Their rendition hit the Hot 100 and peaked at number five and reached number one on the Soul Singles chart in 1977.[1] Studio guitar player Lee Ritenour recreated Otis' original guitar solo for the Brothers Johnson cover.

Soundtrack appearances[edit]

Sampling[edit]

  • Silk's "Baby It's You", from their 1992 debut album Lose Control, sampled the song's backing track.
  • DJ Quik uses a sample from the Brothers Johnson version in his song "Safe & Sound" off the same title track album in 1995.
  • The St. Lunatics also sampled this song heavily on their first independently released 1996 single "Gimme What U Got".
  • The song is sampled in Messy Marv's & Mitchy Slick's track On The One featuring Yukmouth off their 2007 album Messy Slick.
  • It was sampled in 2012 by singer Xavier Naidoo and rapper Kool Savas for the track "X.A.V.A.S".
  • Negativland also sampled it in "White Rabbit and a Dog Named Gidget" from their album The Perfect Cut.
  • In Girl Talk's "Oh No" for the album All Day.
  • The guitar solo is sampled in Justice's track called "Canon" from 2012.
  • Das EFX sampled the song in their song "Whut Goes Around".

Interpolations[edit]

Parts of the song, especially the distinctive, rhythmic melody of the song's verse, have also been imitated or interpolated in other songs:

Tevin Campbell version[edit]

"Strawberry Letter 23"
Single by Tevin Campbell
from the album T.E.V.I.N.
Released May 14, 1992
Format CD single, Cassette single
Genre R&B, new jack swing
Length 4:07
Label Qwest/Warner Bros.
Producer(s) Quincy Jones
Tevin Campbell singles chronology
"Goodbye"
(1992)
"Strawberry Letter 23"
(1992)
"Alone with You"
(1992)

"Strawberry Letter 23" is the fifth single from R&B singer Tevin Campbell's debut studio album T.E.V.I.N.. It peaked at #53 on the Hot 100 and #40 on the R&B charts.[2] The Tevin Campbell version is more up-tempo, with a new jack swing beat, and includes a rap that mentions "the letter 23."

Track Listings[edit]

US Promo CD

  1. Strawberry Letter 23 (Album Edit w/o Rap) 3:48
  2. Strawberry Letter 23 (Album Version) 4:07
  3. Strawberry Letter 23 (Single Remix w/Rap) 4:15
  4. Strawberry Letter 23 (Single Remix w/o Rap) 3:35

US Maxi-CD

  1. Strawberry Letter 23 (QDIII Mix Without Rap) 3:45
  2. Strawberry Letter 23 (QDIII Mix With Rap) 4:12
  3. Strawberry Letter 23 (QDIII Fat Choice Mix) 4:48
  4. Strawberry Letter 23 (Album Edit Without Rap) 3:24
  5. Strawberry Letter 23 (Soul Mix With Rap) 4:15
  6. Strawberry Letter 23 (T.C.'s Choice) 4:04
  7. Strawberry Letter 23 (Soul Mix Without Rap) 3:35
  8. Strawberry Letter 23 (Club Mix) 6:28
  9. Strawberry Letter 23 (Club Dub) 5:58
  10. Strawberry Letter 23 (Naughty Beats) 4:42

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1992) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Hot R&B Singles 40
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 53

Other covers[edit]

An instrumental version was done by Phil Upchurch around the same time as the Brothers Johnson version, which is a more upbeat funky version. The short-lived R&B duo Kiara included a cover version of the song on its 1988 album To Change And/Or Make a Difference, which peaked at #23 on the Billboard R&B Albums chart. Digital Underground also did a hip hop version in the early 1990s.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 80. 
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 99. 
Preceded by
"Slide" by Slave
Billboard's Hot Soul Singles number one single (The Brothers Johnson version)
August 6, 1977
Succeeded by
"Float On" by The Floaters