Friday, April 15, 2005

Classic California Soul On A Funky Friday

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Today's tunes come from the 2001 remastered reissue of Shuggie Otis' 1974 LP Inspiration Information. Son of r'n'b bandleader Johnny Otis, the kid was a musical prodigy who started making music in his mid teens. He played all the instruments himself, just like Stevie Wonder. He wrote what is, IMO, one of the greatest songs of the '70s, Strawberry Letter 23 - a huge hit after it was covered by The Brothers Johnson. Musically he's all over the place - funk, rock, pop, blues and spacy free jazz all make appearances, and he also used what were then the lastest technologies, drum machines and synths. You can hear echoes of Hendrix, Sly Stone and Stevie Wonder and you can hear his influence today on people like Prince and Money Mark. I have to admit that prior to this 2001 release I had no idea who Shuggie was - when I discovered that he wrote Strawberry Letter 23 I was amazed - after all those years of loving this song to hear the original version blew me away. His version is not as slick as the Brothers Johnson version, and lacks the cool guitar solo of that cover, yet I still find it to be stellar. Aht Uh Mi Hed is a beauty, built on a little drum machine rhythm and a truly memorable melody - so sweet and soulful. The reissue includes 4 bonus tracks, one of which is the funk rock gem that is Ice Cold Daydream - it rocks just as hard as it funks, and gets me grooving every time. It's all good - everyone who loves the music of those names I've listed here needs to have this record in their collection. The record was a commercial failure - nobody knew what to make of it's heady brew of genres, and apparently Shuggie lost interest in dealing with the music biz and dropped off the radar. There is another nice reissue available that combines 1970's Here Comes Shuggie Otis & 1971's Freedom Flight if you want to get hold of some more of this tasty stuff.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nice! Been enjoying your posts - what is your RSS address?

Michael said...

Thanks! Here's the feed...

http://siart.blogspot.com/atom.xml

del said...

thanks for hipping the young kids to the wonder that is Shuggie Otis.
you have been a public service.