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Shuggie Otis – Inspiration Information

Album Subtitle: World Psychedelic Classics 2: California Soul

Folks, I’m too busy grooving to this amazing record, so here’s a bit with which I completely agree to save me writing WOW! for every track!

“Son of band-leader, Johnny Otis, multi-instrumentalist, Shuggie Otis worked with Al Kooper when he was 16, refused the offer to join the Rolling Stones after Brian Jones’ death and recorded this highly influential album in 1974. So why so few of us have heard of him is a mystery. Exiled to cult status, “Inspiration Information” (reissued in 2001 by David Byrne’s Luaka Bop) was his finest hour on record-loose, spellbinding, a wonderful combination of vulnerability and consoling mellowness. Too weird to be embraced by the mainstream, it’s actually an extraordinary jazz-soul listen that strives for a kind of gravity-defying weightlessness. Produced and reportedly multi-tracked all by him, (only the strings and horns were played by session musicians) this album of stark, breath-taking beauty recalls Stevie Wonder, Sly Stone, The Meters and Love in feel and quality. The previously un-included “Strawberry Letter 23” (later covered by disco band, The Brothers Johnson) begins as a deceptively languid sing-along, backed by a celeste, then Otis begins weaving dense webs out of guitar riffs, wacked-out up tape flanges and lots of far-out effects. However ornate the effects may become, the song/track is always allowed to predominate. “Island Letter” and “Aht Uh Mi Hed” are both intoxicating and menacing, contrasting hard, angular arrangements with crooned vocals and lush, electronic textures. Tracks, like the sweetly valedictory “Not Available” and “Rainy Day” achieve a kind of unsettling and hypnotic sensibility in their dreaminess. Nearly 30 years on, Otis should feel vindicated for sticking to his guns. Remarkable and visionary, “Californian Soul: Inspiration Information” is definitely deserving of that misused term, “lost classic.” —Maxine Kabuubi”



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