Inter-Fusion

Inter-Fusion

by Shuggie Otis

CD

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Overview

Though he released Live in Williamsburg back in 2014, it has been 44 years since guitar wizard Shuggie Otis released a studio album. Coming of age first with his father Johnny's wonderfully raucous R&B band and playing on sessions by T-Bone Walker and Big Joe Turner, Otis gained first notice from rock fans for his starring role on Kooper Session: Super Session, Vol. 2). He released three fine studio albums under his own name between 1970 and 1974 including the classic Inspiration Information. (Live in Williamsburg was cut during a global tour celebrating its 40th anniversary reissue that included a bonus disc of odds-and-sods material recorded between 1975 and 2000 titled Wings of Love.) Here Otis leads a quintet that includes veteran rockers Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge, Beck, Bogert & Appice) and bassist Tony Franklin (the Firm, Roy Harper), keyboardist/producer Kyle Hamood (Them Guns), and guitarist Aaron Kaplan. According to Otis, this is a "fusion rock" project (a loose mix of funk, blues, soul, and rock & roll). Mostly instrumental, it sounds like a loose jam session by highly sympathetic players who frame Otis' still dazzling, soulful playing. Opener "Aphelion" is as minor-key blues waltz introduced by an eerie electric piano. Otis touches on parts of two different melodies and bridges them with his solo. Three quarters of the way through, Appice pushes the band into a tempo change and ratchets up the tension. "Get a Grip" is heavier. Its funky backbeat, spiky wah-wah chording, and swirling organ pave the way for Otis and Franklin to trade riffs before the former adds weighty, tasty fills and a break before the tune winds its way out to hard rock. "Ice Cold Daydream" features the twin propulsive forces of a whomping bassline and Appice's breakbeats. Otis' thin, wispy voice sounds almost the same as it did in 1974. This is funky rock at its best, complete with a Hendrix-ian guitar freakout. The grooves are even fatter in the nasty funk that is "Woman." Its guitar interplay is seamless despite raw-toned distortion with syncopated snare and kick drum breaks and rumbling bass in massive vamps. The ELP-esque keyboard solo in the middle eight gives the entire tune a schizophrenic quality. It paves the way for "Sweet Surrender," an outright prog rock jam that will resonate most with guitar freaks. The eight-minute "Clear Powder" is the set's longest offering, an aural montage of biting funk that gives way to the wide-open, Deep Purple-inspired highway rock that is "V8." (Otis' unique phrasing, however, adds both heft and soul that would never occur to Richie Blackmore.) Inter-Fusion is a hip little record. While it doesn't reach the heights of Otis' earlier work, it does provide a healthy dose of the unique talent he brought to the game in the first place.

Product Details

Release Date: 04/20/2018
Label: Cleopatra
UPC: 0889466078521
catalogNumber: 785
Rank: 32310

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