Shuggie Otis Here Comes Shuggie Otis / Freedom Flight
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- Released: October 14, 2003
- Label: Raven [Australia]
Uncut - 3/04, p.1053 stars out of 5 - "FREEDOM FLIGHT is more organic, with Otis often coming on like a sweeter, more vulnerable Hendrix."
Mojo (Publisher) - 2/04, p.1094 stars out of 5 - "[A]mbitiously diverse....Otis plays everything from pulsating funk to delicate ballads."
- 1.Oxford Gray
- 2.Jennie Lee
- 3.Bootie Cooler
- 4.Knowing (That You Want Him)
- 5.Funky Thithee
- 6.Shuggie's Boogie
- 8.Gospel Groove
- 9.Baby, I Needed You
- 10.The Hawks
- 11.Ice Cold Daydream
- 12.Strawberry Letter 23
- 13.Sweet Thang
- 14.Me and My Woman
- 15.Someone's Always Singing
- 17.Freedom Flight
- 18.One Room Country Shack
2 LPs on 1 CD: HERE COMES SHUGGIE OTIS (1970)/FREEDOM FLIGHT (1971).
Personnel includes: Shuggie Otis (vocals, guitar, piano, celeste, harpsichord, organ, bass, drums, percussion); Johnny Otis (piano, celeste, harpsichord, tympani, percussion); Al Kooper (piano, organ); Ray Johnson (piano); George Duke (electric piano, celeste, organ); Leon Haywood (organ); Wilton Felder (celeste, harpsichord, electric bass); Al McKibbon (acoustic bass); Stu Woods (bass); Stix Hopper, Abe Mills, Paul Lagos, Aynsley Dunbar, Mike Kowalski (drums).
Includes liner notes by Billy Pinnell.
Personnel: Shuggie Otis (vocals, guitar, slide guitar, piano, celesta, harpsichord, organ, drums, percussion); Harris Singers Robinson (vocals); Ginger Smock, Joe Lichter, Isadore Roman, Eunice Wennermark (violin); Rollice Dale, Marilyn Baker (viola); Richard Aplanalp (flute, oboe, tenor saxophone); Preston Love, Hank Jernigan, Jackie Kelso (flute, saxophone); Jim "Supe" Bradshaw (harmonica, background vocals); Plas Johnson (saxophone); Melvin Moore, Bob Mitchell (trumpet); Richard MacKay, Willie Ruff (French horn); Gene "Mighty Flea" Conners (trombone); Johnny Otis (piano, celesta, harpsichord, timpani, percussion, background vocals); Al Kooper (piano, organ); Ray Johnson (piano); George Duke (celesta, electric piano, organ); Wilton Felder (celesta, harpsichord, electric bass); Leon Haywood (organ); Abe Mills, Paul Lagos, Mike Kowalski, Stix Hooper, Aynsley Dunbar, Wells Kelly (drums); Clydie King, Sherlie Matthews, Venetta Fields (background vocals).
Audio Mixer: Bob Breault .
Liner Note Author: Billy Pinnell.
Arrangers: Roger Spotts; Johnny Otis; Shuggie Otis.
It took an Australian label to pick up the gauntlet thrown down by David Byrne with his Luaka Bop reissue of Shuggie Otis' forgotten 1975 classic, Inspiration Information. In the ensuing two years, no U.S. label stepped up to license the rest of the catalog, which consists of only two more recordings, Here Comes Shuggie Otis, from 1971, and 1972's Freedom Flight. Australia's Raven, one of the world's premier reissue labels, has picked up the gauntlet in spades and presents both on a single, gorgeously remastered CD. Shuggie's earlier outings stand on their own two feet as well. Here Comes Shuggie Otis was released when the guitarist and songwriter was only 14. His father, Johnny Otis, produced the recording, and co-wrote the album with his son. Some of the session players include Wilton Felder, Stix Hooper, Leon Haywood, Al McKibbon, Preston Love, and many others, including a chamber string group. Shuggie's vocals were not yet confident, but the groove-heavy tunes and his guitar playing more than compensate. The production is a shape-shifting morass of fades and phasers with lots of space. Standout tracks are the baroque psychedelic blues of "Oxford Gray," the tough guitar and B3/piano interplay on "Funky Thithee," the beautiful and tender "Jennie Lee," the funky horn-driven R&B on "Hurricane," and the shimmering, sacred blues of "Gospel Groove." On Freedom Flight, the roots of Inspiration Information are everywhere. Shuggie wrote four of the album's seven tunes, did all the arrangements, and helped Johnny with production suggestions. The senior Otis produced the set and allowed all of Shuggie's "weird" ideas full-reign in production, and he was joined by a host of musicians from the first album, along with George Duke, Aynsley Dunbar, and the backing chorus of Clydie King, Venetta Field, and Shirley Matthews, among others. Shuggie plays a slew of instruments on the set. Its centerpiece is "Strawberry Letter 23" that filled out Inspiration Information's reissue, but there are no weak cuts here. Sample the guitars on "Sweet Thang," "Purple," and "Freedom Flight," the latter displays two extended jamming exercises with lots of wondrously magical production touches; the former is a visionary bottleneck number that is warm and oozes soul. The bassline on "Me And My Woman" prefigures that distorted keyboard bass P-Funk trademarked earlier, by two years. The CD is rounded out by the inclusion of "One Room Country Shack," a cut from Al Kooper Introduces Shuggie Otis.There are fine if unexciting liner notes and some cool photos, as well as complete discographical information in the booklet making this package every bit as essential as Inspiration Information. ~ Thom Jurek
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