Shuggie's Boogie is a fine place to get to know the six stringed side of man.
Chris Jones 2009
Otis, for those not familiar with him through David Byrne's heroic disinterment of his 1974 album, Inspiration Information or through his authorship of the wonderful Strawberry Letter 23 - is the son of legendary R 'n' B bandleader Johnny Otis. A musical prodigy he was playing with his father by the time he was 13 and from the word go displayed an uncanny mastery of the blues guitar. This reissue of Shuggie's Boogie collects all of his most notable 12 bar moments. Tasty stuff...
Shuggie gained his first break through the rather egotistical star mentoring medium of being produced by the better known organist Al Kooper, resulting in 1969's patronisingly titled Al Kooper Introduces Shuggie Otis. The few tracks from that album show Otis already able to outshine his peers on some typical 'jam' material of the times.
By 1970 his father took the reins for Here Come Shuggie Otis, a fine collection of numbers which he'd written or played with Otis senior. Listen to his quick history lesson in blues styles at the beginning of Shuggie's Boogie as he impersonates his heroes. This new edition thankfully includes Oxford Gray which is essential listening for any fans.
By this point Shuggie was an assured talent and attracting some famous company. The rarity I Got The Walkin' Blues shows Shuggie mixing it up with Don 'Sugarcane' Harris, who'd also appeared on Zappa's Hot Rats (Shuggie played bass on that album's Peaches En Regalia). By the time of 1971's Freedom Flight and at the grand old age of 17 he was producing mature work with the likes of George Duke and Aynsley Dunbar as his aides. The fleet-fingered Purple and Me And My Woman both come from these sessions as does the slide genius of mood piece Sweet Thang.
After 1974, Shuggie grew less enamoured with stardom's trappings and sank into a perplexing obscurity. To pigeonhole him merely as a bluesman is to do a disservice to his unbeliveable range of abilities. yet, it's the place he came from and where he first showed his talents. Shuggie's Boogie is a fine place to get to know the six stringed side of the man who was even once offered the guitarist's job in the Stones.