Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Shuggie Otis

Shuggie Otis
Proof you should never judge a man by his hair

Shuggie Otis - Inspiration Information

Shuggie Otis - Aht Uh Mi Hed

I was first introduced to Shuggie by wandering into a store one day and seeing a new album on David Byrne's label. Not only that but it was covered with quotes claiming it to be a lost classic of soul and sounding like dj shadow meets marvin gaye or some such bullshit.

It was in fact the rerelease of Shuggie Otis' Inspiration Information with bonus additions of some of his Freedom Flight album.

The only song I recognized on there was Strawberry Letter 23 and that was only due to The brothers Johnson version of the song (inferior in my opinion) so I was amazed when I got home and listened to this album.

It's very rare that you can honestly use the word genius and even rarer when you can honestly use the cliche that this sentence started with but in both counts I think here it is deserved.

The album opens with the sublime slow funk of the title track before slowly getting more abstract and experimental as it continues on. Notice the early bold use of a drum machine in the background which I believe predated Sly Stone's use.

After proving he could do chill out funk, Shuggie then produces what in my opinion is one of the greatest songs of all time: Aht Uh Mi Hed which mixes a sublime backing track with vocals to rival any of the great legends of soul.

Sadly, after this release Shuggie's career ground to a halt, the classic story of being ahead of his time which you can read here.

However, for this album alone, Shuggie deserves to be held up there with the true pioneers and visionaries of soul.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I first heard of Shuggie when a customer at the CD shop I worked for ordered his CD from America. They raved and raved about him so when it came in I had a sly listen to it and it blew me away!

The whole vibe was of a chilled out, pschedelic, funk/soul jam session.
I ordered two copies so I immediately bought the other one and ordered 5 more. They were gone in two weeks. So I ordered 10 more and Freedom Flight and Shuggie's Boogie too, soon they went too.

Next thing I know Beyonce is sampling entire songs and his name is coming up in conversations all the time with my musician friends.

I like Shuggie's music and that whole idea of an amazingly talented musician being so far in advance of music tastes that they are completely ignored in their prime and are only appreciated when it's all too late.