Strawberry Letter 23
|"Strawberry Letter 23"|
|Single by The Brothers Johnson|
|from the album Right on Time|
|B-side||"Dancin' and Prancin'"|
|Released||July 12, 1977|
|Genre||Psychedelic soul, funk|
|Length||3:39 (single edit)
4:59 (album version)
5:04 (12" single version)
|The Brothers Johnson singles chronology|
"Strawberry Letter 23" is a song written and composed by Shuggie Otis, and best known by the version recorded by The Brothers Johnson, which Quincy Jones produced. Otis recorded it for his 1971 album Freedom Flight.
George Johnson, of the Brothers Johnson, was dating one of Otis's 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 Billboard Hot 100 and peaked at number five and reached number one on the Soul Singles chart in 1977. Studio guitar player Lee Ritenour recreated Otis's original guitar solo for the Brothers Johnson cover. The 12" single was pressed on red strawberry-scented vinyl.
- The song is heard very briefly in the Quentin Tarantino film Pulp Fiction as Jules and Vincent walk down the hallway of an apartment building.
- The song is played at length in the Quentin Tarantino film Jackie Brown and is featured on the movie soundtrack album.
- The song can also be heard in the TV series Six Feet Under, Season 5, Episode 9.
- The song is featured in Nip/Tuck, Season 3, Episode #2.
- The song was used in a commercial for Kellogg's Special K Red Berries cereal.
- A version of this song, by Yuna, was used in an H&M department store commercial.
- The Shuggie Otis version can be heard on the film Munich.
- 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."
- The song is mentioned in the lyrics of "St. Exquisite's Confessions" by Of Montreal on the album Skeletal Lamping.
- The song is mentioned in the lyrics of "Too Many Rappers," by Ad-Rock of the Beastie Boys.
Parts of the song, especially the distinctive, rhythmic melody of the song's verse, have also been imitated or interpolated in other songs:
- The Color Me Badd #1 R&B hit "I Wanna Sex You Up" (1992)
- The OutKast hit "Ms. Jackson" (2001)
- The Westside Connection song "Gangsta Nation" (2003)
- The Beyoncé song "Be With You," from the album Dangerously in Love (2003)
- The Coheed and Cambria song "The Running Free," from the album Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume Two: No World for Tomorrow (2007)
- The Julian Perretta single "Wonder Why" (2010)
Tevin Campbell version
|"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|
|Tevin Campbell singles chronology|
"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. The Tevin Campbell version is more up-tempo, with a new jack swing beat, and includes a rap that mentions "the letter 23."
US Promo CD
- Strawberry Letter 23 (Album Edit w/o Rap) 3:48
- Strawberry Letter 23 (Album Version) 4:07
- Strawberry Letter 23 (Single Remix w/Rap) 4:15
- Strawberry Letter 23 (Single Remix w/o Rap) 3:35
- Strawberry Letter 23 (QDIII Mix Without Rap) 3:45
- Strawberry Letter 23 (QDIII Mix With Rap) 4:12
- Strawberry Letter 23 (QDIII Fat Choice Mix) 4:48
- Strawberry Letter 23 (Album Edit Without Rap) 3:24
- Strawberry Letter 23 (Soul Mix With Rap) 4:15
- Strawberry Letter 23 (T.C.'s Choice) 4:04
- Strawberry Letter 23 (Soul Mix Without Rap) 3:35
- Strawberry Letter 23 (Club Mix) 6:28
- Strawberry Letter 23 (Club Dub) 5:58
- Strawberry Letter 23 (Naughty Beats) 4:42
|U.S. Billboard Hot R&B Singles||40|
|U.S. Billboard Hot 100||53|
- 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 did a hip hop version in the early 1990s.
- Quincy Jones, who produced the Brothers Johnson's version, covered the song himself, with singer Akon, on the album Q: Soul Bossa Nostra (2010).
- Saxophonist Jessy J covered the song on her album My One and Only One (2015).
- Malaysian singer Yuna recorded the song for a commercial for Swedish fashion retailer H&M starring Ukrainian-Canadian model Daria Werbowy that aired in March 2015.
- In June 2015, Faith No More covered a large portion of the song during an interlude during "Midlife Crisis" at the Pinkpop festival and also at Download Festival.
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 80.
- David Kent's "Australian Chart Book 1970-1992"
- Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
- "The 200 Best Songs of the 1970s - Page 4 | Pitchfork". pitchfork.com. Retrieved 2016-09-03.
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 99.
"Slide" by Slave
|Billboard's Hot Soul Singles number one single (The Brothers Johnson version)
August 6, 1977
"Float On" by The Floaters