Strawberry Letter 23 was originally released in 1972 on the album Freedom Flight, an album performed by Shuggie Otis. His performance has a nice, warm, late 1960's-early 1970's feel to it, a really kind and friendly feel.
The meaning of the song is an expression of the feeling of rapture of a man after reading the words of love of his sweetheart, words penned in a letter laced with the smell of strawberries. Somewhat hallucinatory in it's lyrics throughout most of the piece, there is one very lucid part that seems to really capture the essence of the song: "If you arrive and don't see me, I'm gonna be with my Baby! I am free! I am free!"
The song was later covered by The Brothers Johnson, on their Right on Time album, in 1977. This version of the song is the most famous. It is a little bit funkier than Shuggie's version, a little harder, and perhaps a little less friendly. Still, it is a classic rendition of this classic tune.
Since 1977, the song has been covered by several other musicians. Among the most notable are Tevin Campbell's version on his 1992 T.E.V.I.N. album.
In 2010, Quincy Jones (the producer on The Brothers Johnson recording of the song) teamed up with Akon to create yet another vision of this masterpiece. This version has dropped almost all of the funk of previous interpretations and instead has a much smoother feel. Despite the differences, Quincy Jones and Akon have managed to capture the simple, uplifting joy of Otis's original.
(Note: the review for this song is included simply to introduce strawberry lovers to a great strawberry tune. If you like the song, please do the right thing, and buy a copy. Thank you!)
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