Saturday, September 26, 2009

shuggie otis - "freedom flight"

jenkins at doc's pulled my coat yesterday to a copy of this he'd just gotten in. i owned it when it was almost-new after jeff beck namechecked shuggie in a rolling stone int. i didn't get it at first -- it wasn't heavy, like i still expected jeff to be back in '72, and it was kind of all-over-the-map: some blues (shuggie had a nice touch in both slide and b.b. king styles), some uptown r&b, and some stuff that i couldn't really comprehend enough to categorize. in the fullness of time, the title track sounds very influenced by in a silent way -- always a plus at my house -- and is kinda redolent of carlos santana in his lyrical caravanserai/welcome phase, which freedom flight actually predated by over a year, as well as the stoned/dreamin' jimi of "may this be love" and axis: bold as love.

"ice cold daydream" kicks the door open with a blast of nasty funk, the likes of which beck was purveying on his rough and ready alb (still a fave of mine), utilizing some speeded-up f/x that shuggie must have learned from frank zappa while playing "octave bass" on hot rats' "peaches en regalia." (current '70 mothers george duke and aynsley dunbar are all over freedom flight, too.) shuggie's dad johnny otis -- a greek-american r&b bandleader and producer who'd made his name passing for black -- was instrumental in those sessions, and had served as a kind of a role model for teenage frank, or at least his soul patch. (now i have to go back and dig out the johnny otis show live at monterey cassette that also has shuggie on a couple of tracks.)

shuggie's "strawberry letter 23" (which i once heard addnerim play note-for-note at the wreck room) was a big hit for the brothers johnson in '77, but the 'riginal is still _the one_. folks made a big deal over shuggie's followup inspiration information when david byrne reished it on luaka bop in 2001, but i always dug freedom flight more. in its modest way, it really _was_ ahead of its time (dig the funkadelic synth bass on "me and my woman," f'rinstance) in the same way as, say, todd rundgren's something/anything was. it's too bad that shuggie prima donna'd his way out of the music biz post-inspiration.


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