Shuggie Otis ‘Inspiration Information/Wings Of Love’ Album Review – The Quietus
Whether you are new to Inspiration Information or coming back to it after discovering Otis during his previous renaissance, you can’t fail to be impressed by the prescient genius of an artist on the edge of his craft. Despite the trippy soul of cuts like “Aht Uh Mi Hed” and the electronic experimentations of “XL-30” inspiring everyone from J Dilla to Digable Planets, its testament of where Otis’ head was at back in the early ’70s that the LP still inhabits its own space in black music; unique, strange and beguiling. … The tracks that make up the retrospective Wings of Love, there is enough of a distinct sound to make it a worthy accompaniment to such a pivotal LP.
It’s been said that Otis’ seclusion from the industry and his dissociation of other movements in music imbued his later work with a timeless quality. And in some ways that is both the LPs strength and its weakness. It’s certainly true that it’s hard to discern between the cuts here from 1980 (“Special”) and 1987 (“If You’d Been Mine”). This is as much to do with the fact that Otis played all the instruments himself as well as taking full ownership of production. At times that gives his music a directionless quality and you feel he could have done with being reigned in. But it also gives the music a natural flow and Otis is best when he uses that freedom to roam, as on the wonderfully off key “Trying To Get Close To You,” which wouldn’t have been out of place on his 1971 opus. Similarly, “Walkin’ Down The Country” nods to the languid flow of “Happy House,” a track that still sounds like the future of soul more than 40 years on.
The aforementioned “Wings of Love” begins with an acoustic segment reminiscent of the late great Jon Lucien before opening into an epic slice of rock drenched soul, closing some 11 minutes later in a haze of electric guitars. And trust me this LP is a grower so by the time you’ve rewound for “Give Me Something Good” it will sound like an old classic. And that’s before we reach the epic rock soul of “Wings of Love” – all 11 minutes of it. Outsider soul from a true original.