Shuggie Otis

In Session: Great Rhythm & Blues

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AllMusic Review by

Capitalizing on the unexpected resurgence of acclaim for Shuggie Otis in 2001 due to Luaka Bop's reissue of 1974's Inspiration Information, Blues Spectrum/GoldenLane turned out the compilation In Session: Great Rhythm & Blues the following year. Despite the appearances -- the same photographs from the Luaka Bop edition of Inspiration are all over this disc, including the same picture used for both front covers -- this is hardly a disc for those newly converted fans, since there is none of the trippy, one-man psychedelic soul that distinguished that record. This is Shuggie, the session-man, from the mid-'70s, when he was playing guitar and co-engineering the Great Rhythm & Blues Oldies series for his father, Johnny, who produced this series for Blues Spectrum records. The idea behind the series was simple: Bring a bunch of R&B and blues legends into the studio to record new versions of their classic songs, backed by Johnny Otis' house band, featuring Shuggie on guitar. Not a bad idea on the surface, and it was not unpleasant in practice, but it's also hardly noteworthy, either, since these were pretty much guys doing their hits with a pickup band, captured with indifferent '70s sound. Some of these guys rise above the occasion -- Louis Jordan sounds lively, for instance, on both of his cuts -- but this is all latter-day recordings by artists past the peak of their game. Sometimes, they update their sound a bit (Richard Berry takes a stab at funk), but most everybody simply brings their trademark sound into the '70s, with a band that's competent but lacking character -- and that includes Shuggie, whose playing here is standard blues/R&B licks that are perfectly fine, but never distinctive. It's a very nicely produced package, particularly in how it reproduces the artwork for all of the albums in the series, but the music is what matters and anybody that hears this, either as a fan of the featured artists or Shuggie, will be disappointed by these passable but undistinguished latter-day re-recordings.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:15
2 2:41
3 2:15
4
feat: Johnny Otis
2:43
5
feat: Johnny Otis
2:35
6
feat: Johnny Otis
3:31
7
3:00
8 3:04
9 2:52
10
4:03
11
feat: Louis Jordan
2:47
12
feat: Louis Jordan
3:07
13 2:58
14 3:43
15
feat: Amos Milburn
2:44
16
feat: Amos Milburn
3:05
17
2:39
18
3:29
19
3:07
20
3:17
21
5:25
22
feat: Roy Milton
2:58
23
feat: Roy Milton
2:25
blue highlight denotes track pick