Guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Shuggie Otis made a name for himself in the early '70s as a teenage blues/R&B guitar sensation, recording a few solo albums for Epic Records that spawned the hit single "Strawberry Letter 23", which also became an even bigger hit for the Brothers Johnson a few short years later. Though he also recorded with Frank Zappa, Al Kooper, and others right around that same time, he basically faded from the public view until a few years ago, where he put together a new solo band and has been active ever since. Inter-Fusion is his brand new solo album for Cleopatra Records, and features the guitarist alongside drum legend Carmine Appice and virtuoso bassist Tony Franklin, two-thirds of the late '80s hard rock powerhouse Blue Murder, as well as keyboard player Kyle Hamood. Mostly instrumental, Inter-Fusion is a pretty tasty, rocking affair, with Otis' still formidable blues-rock guitar licks front and center.
The mighty "Interlude" is a very cool slice of bluesy jazz, with searing guitar solos and smoky Hammond organ, while the vocal piece "Ice Cold Daydream" wouldn't have sounded out of place on an old Beck Bogert Appice album, Carmine laying down some thick grooves and Franklin's smooth bass just delicious. "Woman" also has that BBA feel, mixed with a little Cactus styled boogie, Otis' guitars thick with fuzz and wah-wah, and tracks like "Sweet Surrender", "Aphelion", and "Get a Grip" blend hard rock muscle with daring jazz-fusion for a very listenable experience. "Clear Power" though might be the winner of the bunch, a funky, hard rocking delight with some fantastic rhythms from Appice & Franklin, the duo thumping and grooving underneath some tasty keys and Shuggie's funky licks. Appice's "V8" closes out the album is grand style, a propulsive rocker with a driving rhythm and wealth of scorching lead guitar. Close your eyes and you'll easily come up with images of The Jeff Beck Group.
Though it's a Shuggie Otis solo album, this sounds more like a real 'band' affair, each member contributing mightily not only musically but with the songwriting as well. Hot stuff from start to finish, Inter-Fusion is a welcome return from a musician who got the perfect cast to help re-introduce himself to the world. Highly recommended!
See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!
Get a Grip
3 Ice Cold Daydream