By the time Shuggie Otis released Inspiration Information in 1974, he was getting a bit of a reputation for ferreting himself away in the studio. Having played live with his father Johnny’s R&B groups since the age of 12, he’d earned the chops to record his second album, 1971’s Freedom Flight, almost entirely on his own; adding production to his list of credits, Shuggie took three years over Inspiration Information before disappearing into the studio once more… And that, for almost four decades, seemed to be the last anyone would hear from him.
In the intervening years, Inspiration Information became the stuff of legend, helped in no small part by its David Byrne-helmed reissue in 2001. A beautifully laidback, sunshine-funk record, it boasts all the groove and none of the urgency that clearly came naturally to its multi-instrumentalist composer. This two-disc reissue prises open Shuggie’s studio door, excavating over an album’s worth of unreleased material that’s accumulated over the intervening decades, under the title Wings Of Love. Inevitably, it’s a time capsule, rather than a new album proper, though the best moments make you wonder what might have been. Walking’ Down The Country is full of Otis’ trademark harmonies, while Doin’ What’s Right’s mix of Latin, jazz and funk coulda been a hit single if he’d released it in 1975. The title track, recorded in 1990, soars for 11 minutes, as Shuggie proves why he’s hailed as one of the most talented musicians of his age, turning the clock back to the mid-70s and a time when a contingent of funk fanatics were wondering what the hell happened to him.