Otis, Shuggie : Inspiration Information

Great 'lost' psychedelic soul album

When ‘Inspiration Information’ was first released in 1974, Shuggie Otis was 19 years old. He had learned to play guitar as part

of his father Johnny’s


R&B band, made three solo albums and had the nerve to turn down The Rolling Stones when they asked him to become a permanent member.

Instead, Ron Wood joined the Stones, while Shuggie Otis was dropped by his label and drifted into Californian obscurity. Over the years, however, ‘Inspiration Information’ gathered a reputation among second-hand vinyl trawlers as a great, ambitious defiantly eccentric ’70s albums that, with hindsight, appears to have been designed specifically for cult adoration. Listening to this belated CD reissue, you can see why.

Essentially, we’re in that territory of blitzed psychedelic soul dominated by Sly And The Family Stone. But beyond the liquid funk and high, innocent vocals, it’s Otis’ love of clunky and primitive drum machines and swooning instrumentation that creates a genuinely odd sound. The fractured electro-soul of ‘XL-30’ and ‘Not Available’ is almost unnervingly modern, so much so you start suspecting it’s all some beautifully-crafted hoax.

Then you check the history again, and start to wonder what would’ve happened if a precocious maverick like Otis had become a Stone in place of a staunch rocker like Wood. His career would’ve lasted a little longer, for sure.

John Mulvey