In the late '70s and early '80s, funk could be divided into two main categories: hardcore funk (which included Rick James, Graham Central Station, Cameo, the Gap Band, the Bar-Kays, and George Clinton's Parliament/Funkadelic empire) and the lighter, softer sophisticated funk ("sophisti-funk" for short) of Rufus & Chaka Khan, the Average White Band, the Whispers, Heatwave, Chic, Dynasty, and Teena Marie. Before the arrival of J.T. Taylor in 1979, Kool & the Gang were the epitome of hardcore funk -- and once he arrived, they epitomized sophisti-funk (which was also called "uptown funk"). Another group that epitomized sophisti-funk was the Brothers Johnson, whose third album, Blam!!, demonstrates that funk can be sleek and gritty at the same time. This 1978 classic is full of definitive examples of sophisti-funk; if you're a lover of that style, tracks like "Ain't We Funkin' Now" (a major hit), "Mista' Cool," "Ride-O-Rocket," and the title song are required listening. Equally strong are the mellow ballad "It's You, Girl" and the pop-jazz instrumental "Streetwave," both of which were well-received by quiet storm enthusiasts. The person the Brothers Johnson can thank for this album being so consistent is producer Quincy Jones, who really knew how to bring out the best in the group. A former jazz musician who shifted his focus to R&B/pop in the 1970s, Jones can be a real perfectionist. It was Jones who, in 1982, produced the best selling album of all time (Michael Jackson's Thriller), and he rarely let the Brothers Johnson settle for second best. As a result, Blam!! is excellent from start to finish.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson