Album: Shuggie Otis

Inspiration Information, V2 / LUAKA BOP
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The child prodigy Shuggie Otis was playing guitar in his dad Johnny's legendary R&B revue by the age of 13, and secured his own solo deal at 16, cutting psychedelic blues material like "One Room Country Shack". Three albums later, at 22, he found his career effectively over when Epic dropped him after the failure of Inspiration Information, the 1974 proto-techno-psychedelic-funk album that has since been lavishly reassessed in some quarters as a lost masterpiece. It's not quite that great, but it's a creditable-enough foray into Sly Stone-style electro-funk, Shuggie making use of the era's new drum-machine technology and his own multi-instrumental versatility to craft a diverse range of itchy funk shuffles, jazzy soft-soul instrumentals and primitive techno noodlings. With his own distinctive string and horn arrangements adding a David Axelrod-esque air to tracks like "Not Available" and "Aht Uh Mi Hed", and simple keyboard and drum-machine exercises such as "XL-30" and "Pling!" recalling the electronic experiments of Raymond Scott, it's an intriguing affair, although Shuggie's guitar is reduced to a rhythmic role. The album's lack of a defining sound hampered its appeal, although Shuggie's greatest drawback was his insipid voice. Also included on this reissue are four tracks from his earlier Freedom Flight.