Shuggie Otis Inspiration Information

This album was originally released in 1974 by the then 19-year-old Shuggie, son of Johnnie "Willie and the Hand Jive" Otis. He had spent three years squeezing all the juice out of his studio and its crude Bontempi organ beats. He's got a sound all his own, though markedly influenced by post-'60s Sly Stone. Unlike the bad trip brought on by Sly Stone's drugs, Shuggie's drugs are smile inducing. Inspiration Information is warm and summery soul with some electronic touches. Shuggie's got the vibe down, but the problem is the songs; most of the time they're only half-formed. His musicianship and, occasionally, his lyrics are awesome for a 19-year-old, but the sensitive chord changes sometimes just don't amount to anything memorable. When he does put it all together, as on "Strawberry Letter #23" (which became a smash hit by the Brothers Johnson four years later), it's pure pop-soul satisfaction. Latter day critical comparisons to Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield's work are misguided. Both Curtis and Marvin were amazing, idiom-defining songwriters, and Otis is not is the same league, though he's at least as interesting a producer. Perhaps a better comparison would be Boz Scaggs - soulful and heavily produced, with a few good hooks. (Luaka Bop)