Thursday, June 28, 2007

304. Shuggie Otis - Inspiration Information (1974)

Track Listing

1. Inspiration Information
2. Island Letter
3. Sparkle City
4. Aht Uh Mi Hed
5. Happy House
6. Rainy Day
7. XL-30
8. Pling!
9. Not Available


Some albums are obscure due to a great injustice of history, some are obscure because they are shit. This album is a case of neither. It is a pretty good album, but it is not astonishing. Maybe this album has become so famous because it has been so strongly advocated by David Byrne, maybe it is due to the bonus tracks on the re-release, which include Strawberry Letter 23, which is truly a great track.

As it is however the album presents some interesting psychedelic funk, which manages to be three things at the same time; of its time, a throwback and visionary. Let's try to tackle this one by one. It is of its time because it sounds funky and like something in the area of Stevie Wonder, which could never have been put out any other time. It's a throwback because its psychedelic sounds were pretty much out of fashion by 74. It is also visionary because this would be the kind of music which would be used by samples by many a chill out DJ later on.

Peculiar as this is, the album doesn't blow me away. It is perfectly interesting to listen too, even pleasurable, but I have read such raves that I can't help but feel slightly disappointed. Still, worth listening to, so get it from Amazon UK or US.

Track Highlights

1. Aht Uh Mi Hed
2. Inspiration Information
3. XL-30
4. Happy House

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

He is the son of rhythm and blues musician, bandleader, and impresario Johnny Otis. One source gives his birth name as Johnny Otis Jr., but since his father used his own birth name of John Veliotes when he ran for the California Assembly in the 1960s, Shuggie's family name at birth was probably Veliotes. Shuggie Otis began performing professionally at the age of 12, often disguising himself with dark glasses and a false moustache so that he could play in nightclubs.

He released his first solo album in 1970. The Brothers Johnson's version of his composition "Strawberry Letter 23" reached #1 in the Billboard rhythm and blues chart and #5 in the Billboard pop chart in 1977. He has recorded with Frank Zappa(specifically, he is listed as "Shuggy Otis" for electric bass on "Peaches en Regalia" from Hot Rats), Al Kooper, Etta James, and Eddie Vinson, and more recently Mos Def. Shuggie's albums include: Here Comes Shuggie Otis, Freedom Flight and Inspiration Information. David Byrne recently re-released Inspiration Information, including some bonus tracks from "Freedom Flight", on his Luaka Bop record label. It the liner notes, the critic James Sullivan states that Shuggie was offered guitar duties in the Rolling Stones but declined.

Bonus track Strawberry Letter 23, with some guys skateboarding:

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