SHUGGIE OTIS - FREEDOM FLIGHT

SHUGGIE OTIS - FREEDOM FLIGHT

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Released: 29/07/22

One of many eyebrow-raising facts about the legendary R&B artist Shuggie Otis is that he began playing live professionally at eleven years of age, as a guitarist in his father’s band (his pops of course being the late and equally great blues trailblazer Johnny Otis). To fool promoters at the late-night clubs they performed at, Otis would disguise himself with sunglasses and a false moustache. That must have been one hell of an appendage.
 
Anyway, irregardless of whether you view this as mere mirthful titbit or a shocking dereliction of parental duty, there’s no getting away from the fact that it undoubtedly helped make Otis into not only a master songwriter, but also one of the great guitar virtuosos of his generation. Both aspects are demonstrated to wondrous effect on Otis’s sophomore album, the classic Freedom Flight, which includes the psych-soul classic “Strawberry Letter 23” (the coda featuring Otis’s beautiful Electric Counterpoint-esque arpeggios), the R&B-funk masterclass that is “Me and My Woman”, and the smooth-as-silk Hammond blues of “Someone’s Always Singing”.
 
And if that doesn’t convince you, all I can say is that Otis is as good a guitarist as Hendrix, and a songwriter on the transcendent level of Sly Stone and Arthur Lee – and Freedom Flight is his magnum opus.