Shuggie for Summer

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I often associate certain albums with certain seasons. ‘Charlie Parker with Strings’ speaks to me of the Springtime. Brian Eno and Harold Budd’s ‘The Pearl’ says Autumn.

But when it comes to summer one album allows leaps out. Shuggie Otis ‘Inspiration Information’

Shuggie Otis is not a name on the tip of most people’s tongues but back in the seventies he was a name to drop. Compared to Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, he was approached by Billy Preston and asked to tour with The Rolling Stones, such was his prowess as a guitar player.

The retiring soul man declined and for many years led a reclusive existence, until Luaka Bop reissued some of his work 2001.

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Hardcore fans will tell you that though this reissue was called ‘Inspiration Information’ its track listing differed from the original with tracks from the 1971 album ‘Freedom Flight’ added, not the least of which was the one hit associated with the man, ‘Strawberry Letters 23’.

They will of course be delighted to learn that the original ‘Inspiration information along with another Shuggie Otis album ‘Wings of Love’ is now available for the discerning listener.

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I recently got to see the man live at Music Hall of Williamsburg and hear him play some of the tracks that have enlivened my summer over last decade. Seeing him on stage you can hear more clearly the blues influence in his music (his father was the R&B band leader Johnny Otis) as well as the rock influence of Arthur Lee’s seminal west coast band, Love.

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As much as I enjoyed it you can’t help but wonder what he might of achieved if he’d had the ambition of a Prince or Bob Marley. He clearly had the ability but maybe we should just be grateful for the music we do have to remind us what talent sounds like.

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