Shuggie Otis - Inspiration Information/ Wings Of Love

Shugga daddy brings home the treats

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.  

4 stars 4 stars 4 stars 4 stars

Sony/Legacy | tbc (2-CD)

Reviewed by Jason Draper
<< Back to Issue 413

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