Groovy '74 Cali classic unearthed again
Still only 20 on the release of his fourth, and greatest, album, Otis subsequently lost his Columbia deal and dropped out of sight. That this incredible recording sounds so utterly ‘now’ is testament to the visionary genius whose synth silkiness and sophisti-funk orchestrations tripped the minds of everyone from Prince to DJ Shadow. With the then-revolutionary help of a Rhythm King drum machine, the thrill lies in its fluency, its liquid flow of freeform guitar, strings and horn riffs. The Brothers Johnson scored a monster hit with the melted strut of “Strawberry Letter 23” (one of four add-ons from 1971’s Freedom Flight), but the irresistible title track, “Rainy Day” and “XL-30” are sublime ambient-soul prototypes.