Quickie Review: Shuggie Otis’ new album best of 2013

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“Inspiration Information/Wings Of Love”

by Bob Davis

Funk/Soul/Blues/Jazz/Pop/Electronica/Peace & Love

(soul-patrol.com)–This is a great album. I have been waiting for this album to appear since the mid 1970’s. It’s the best album I have heard so far in 2013.

The original “Inspiration Information” has actually been a key influencing factor in my thought processes and behavior since I first listened to it in 1974, via WAMO in Pittsburgh.

Since that time I have probably listened to it more than any other single album I have ever owned, with the possible exception of Miles Davis “On The Corner.”

To this day, people who know me well (including “Mrs. Earthjuice”) are quite literally sick of me talking about “Inspiration Information.” I consider it one of the defining pieces of pure artistry that I have ever encountered in my life and I return to it over and over again when I feel lost. It helps me to “re-calibrate,” in almost a religious way. (how’s that for obsessive behavior…..LOL)

And it’s not because of the music itself.

It is also about the persona of Shuggie Otis himself, his artistic genius, his relative youth at the time and how his “lost potential” seems to be a metaphor for other “geniuses” that I knew growing up.

I want for Shuggie Otis (and all of the other young geniuses, that I have known in my life) to live up to their potential to change the world for the better.

The album is an impressive 2 disc set:

Disc 1 – Contains the original 9 tracks from “Inspiration Information,” the “genreless acid drenched one man band album” which consists of all “genres” that have mesmerized me for the better part of the past 35 years and is literally the “Rosetta stone” for late 20th century Black music. It also contains 4 “bonus” tracks that apparently were considered for the original album, but didn’t make the cut.

Disc 2 – Contains a collection of songs that Shuggie Otis recorded between the mid 1970’s – 2000’s that have never been released before.

Great liner notes, rare photos, & more

DISC 1 – INSPIRATION INFORMATION – BONUS TRACKS

I am not going to review the original “Inspiration Information.” I have reviewed it many times and I don’t want to repeat myself. If you have any interest whatsoever in the human condition of 20th century earthlings, IMHO you should own this album.

Here are some quickie reviews of the 4 bonus tracks:

10. “Miss Pretty” (Recorded in 1971)
Sounds like: Sounds like: Early 70’s Pop/Funk – Sly Stoneesque

11. “Magic” (Recorded in 1971)
Sounds like: Sounds like: Early 70’s Pop/Funk – Sly Stoneesque

12. “Things We Like To Do” (Recorded in 1977)
Sounds like: Sounds like: Late 60’s Pop/Soul/Jazz – Chicago/Blood Sweat & Tearsesque (Sans Horns)

13. “Castle Top Jam” (Recorded in 1971)
Sounds like: Sounds like: Late 60’s Acid drenched Blues/Funk/Rock – Sly Stone/Steve Miller Bandesque

DISC 2 – WINGS OF LOVE

This is what I have been waiting for all of these years. This is an album that is filled with GREAT music, never before heard. These songs have little if anything to do with the original “Inspiration Information” album.

A half dozen or so of these songs (“Special,” “Tryin’ To Get Close To You,” “Doin’ What’s Right,” “Wings Of Love,” “Don’t You Run Away,” “Fireball of Love,” “Fawn,” “Destination You!”) would have been hit records, had they been released on major labels during the period when they were recorded.

Listening to these songs today, make the original “Inspiration Information” seem like just what it was. An experimental album constructed by a “genius mad scientist,” simply because he could. This collection of previously unheard songs sound like they come from someone who now has totally perfected the whole “one man band” thing, is ready to unleash all of that knowledge into the commercial marketplace.

Why Shuggie was never given the opportunity to release these songs to the public, continues to be a mystery and open to lots of speculation. However I’m glad to finally be able to hear them today.

As you look at my quickie reviews of these songs below, pay close attention to the dates they were recorded and the music I am suggesting a similarity with.

In many cases, Shuggie is actually “channeling” these artists long before we ever heard of them!! In other cases you can certainly hear who some of his influences were. If you like the artists that I am making the comparisons with, then you will also like “Wings of Love.”

1. “Intro”
Sounds like: 4 second of ‘audience sounds” from a live show (a waste of space)

2. “Special” (Recorded in 1980)
Sounds like: Mid 80’s Pop/Funk – Princesque

3. “Give Me Something Good” (Recorded in 1977)
Sounds like: Mid 90’s – Early 2000’s Neo Soul – D’Angeloesque

4. “Tryin’ To Get Close To You” (Recorded in 1976)
Sounds like: Late 70’s Pop/Funk – Brothers Johnsonesque

5. “Walkin’ Down The Country” (Recorded in 1977)
Sounds like: 1960’s Pop Ballad – Johnnie Mathisesque

6. “Doin’ What’s Right” (Recorded in 1975)
Sounds like: Mid 70’s Social Message – MFSB/O’Jays/Gamble & Huffesque

7. “Wings Of Love” (Recorded in 1990)
Sounds like: Reflective Slow Jam – Rick James/Urban Rapsodyesque

8. Give Me A Chance (Recorded in 1987)
Mid 80’s eMpTVyish Power Pop Ballad – Luther Vandross/Phil Collinseque

9. “Don’t You Run Away” (Recorded in 1987)
Sounds like: Mid 90’s – Early 2000’s Neo Soul – D’Angeloesque

10. “Fireball of Love” (Recorded in 1977)
Sounds like: Mid 70’s Stone Cold Monster Phunk – Billy Preston/Prince/Eddie Hazel/Johnny Guitar Watson/Graham Central Stationesque

11. “Fawn” (Recorded in 1977)
Sounds like: Monster Wett Dreamy 1970’s Slow Jam – Delfonics/Stylistics/Blue Magic/Denise Williams/Laura Nyroesque

12. “If You’d Be Mine” (Recorded in 1987)
Sounds like: Mid 80’s eMpTVyish Power Pop Ballad – Luther Vandross/Phil Collinseque

13. “Black Belt Sheriff” (Recorded in 2000)
Sounds like: Live Acoustic Blues/Folk Cut

14. “Destination You!” (Recorded in 1975)
Sounds like: Early 70’s Pop/Funk – Sly Stoneesque

I have listened to this album 3 times, since it arrived in my mailbox and each time I discover more and more to like about it. So I’ll leave it here for now, simply because I am positive that I will be writing about it again. It is by far the best album I have heard in 2013.

PS – If you would like to compare the “Wings of Love” album to a modern day artist, check out an artist named “SonnyBoy” His music is also “genreless,” yet also encompasses all “genres” at the same time.

This review is also posted on the Soul-Patrol website: http://www.soul-patrol.com/funk/shuggie.htm

 

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