Butler, Jerry


Band members               Related acts

- Jerry Butler - vocals

   

 

 

- The Impressions

 

 


 

Genre: soul

Rating: ** (2 stars)

Title:  You and Me

Company: Mercury

Catalog: SR 61269

Year: 1970

Country/State: Chicago, Illinois

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: 4421

Price: $10.00

 

Marking the end of his musical collaboration with producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff (though they're represented on the album by a pair of tunes), 1970's "You and Me" has always struck me as a let down.  Butler's instantly recognizable voice is certainly in good form, but it's largely wasted on this collection.  The biggest part of the problem is that there just aren't that many good tunes on the album.  Give Butler credit for spotlighting an assortment of up and coming writers, including Terry Callier, but too many of these tracks fall into the ballad and mid-tempo categories.  Butler's cover of The Beatles 'Something' is a perfect example of what's wrong here.  While nothing can touch the original, Butler manages to slow the song down to a dirge, turning it into an over-orchestrated and seemingly endless slice of sludge.  Horrible.   Even the mildly up tempo numbers such as 'Life's Unfortunate Sons' were pretty weak.   Among the few songs worth hearing more than once are Gamble and Huff's 'I Could Write a Book' and 'Winter of a Loving Heart'.  

 

"You and Me" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) I Could Write a Book   (Kenny Gamble - Leon Huff) - 2:26

2.) A One Woman Man   (Billy Butler - James Blumenberg) - 2:42

3.) Tammy Jones   (Johnny Jones) - 3:04

4.) Real Good Man   (Donny Hathaway - G. Watts - L. Robinson - H. Washington ) - 3:16

5.) Something   (George Harrison) - 5:10

(side 2)

1.) Ordinary Joe   (Terry Callier) - 3:19

2.) Life's Unfortunate Sons   (James Blumenbeg) - 3:16

3.) No Money Down   (Kenny Gamble - Leon Huff) -    - 3:24

4.) Winter of a Loving Heart   (Terry Callier) - 3:15

5.) You and Me   (Billy Butler - Johnny Jones - Jerry Butler) - 2:53

 

 

 


Genre: soul

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  The Sagittarius Movement

Company: Mercury

Catalog: SR 61347

Year: 1971

Country/State: Chicago, Illinois

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG

Comments: minor ring wear

Available: SOLD

GEMM catalog ID: SOLD

Price: SOLD

 

Whatever criticisms may be leveled against Jerry Butler, the man sure had a set of pipes.  Co-produced by Butler and Gerald Sims, 1971's "The Sagittarius Movement" is one that snuck up on me.  Creatively the album stood as another showcase for Butler's songwriting workshop which in turn spotlighted the talents of folks likes Terry Callier, Skip Scarborough and Larry Wade.  Unfortunately, the first couple of times I listened to it, the set just didn't strike much of a chord.  Buried in ballads and mid-tempo numbers, there just didn't seem to be much to get excited about.  Luckily, this is one of those album's that starts to demonstrate it's charms after multiple spins.  While there are way too many ballads, the set has more than its share of classic performances, including 'Simple Country Girl', the atypical upbeat 'Windy City Soul' and 'Sail Away'.  Another highlight was Butler's duet with Brenda Lee Eager 'Ain't Understanding Mellow'.  Released as a single with 'Windy City Soul' as the 'B' side, (Mercury catalog number 73255) the track eventually sold over a million copies, providing Butler with one of his last big hits.  That success didn't do much for the parent album, which is now surprisingly hard to find.

 

"The Sagittarius Movement" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Walk Easy My Son   (Charles Jackson) - 2:55

2.) Simple Country Girl   (Skip Scarborough) - 2:37

3.) Said A Mother Said a Father   (Herscholt Polk - Homer Talbert) - 2:40

4.) Let Me Be   (Skip Scarborough) - 3:00

5.) Sail Away   (Terrence Callier - Larry Wade - Billy Butler) - 3:30

(side 2)

1.) Windy City Soul   (Terrence Callier - Larry Wade) - 3:05

2.) Ain't Understanding Mellow    (Herscholt Polk - Homer Talbert) - 4:25

3.) True Love Don't Come Easy   (Charles Jackson) - 3:40

4.) The Girl In His Mind   (Charles Jones) - 3:11

 

 

 


Genre: soul

Rating: ** (2 stars)

Title:  The Love We Have, The Love We Had

Company: Mercury

Catalog: SRM 1-660

Year: 1973

Country/State: Chicago, Illinois

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG

Comments: gatefold sleeve; cutout hole top right corner

Available: SOLD

GEMM catalog ID: SOLD

Price: SOLD $10.00

 

 

Soul music has a longstanding tradition of male-female musical partnerships, but for some reason the early-1970s saw a flood of such efforts.  Among the releases was this 1973 partnership between Jerry Butler and Brenda Eager.   Produced by Bobby Bowles (Butler credited as executive producer),"The Love We Have, The Love We Had" had it's moments, but for the most part came off as a tenuous partnership with Butler easily outshining Eager on the majority of the performances.  (The pair even looked somewhat uncomfortable on the album cover.)  Not to be overly critical, but at least to my ears there were a host of problems with the album.  Far too much of the material focused on big, old school ballads that squeezed out any sense of fun and spontaneity.  Sure everyone loves a good tearjerker, but in this case six out of the ten tracks were ballads.  After awhile it all kind of melded together in your head.  An even bigger issue was the fact that Butler and Eager's voices simply weren't very compatible.  Butler's low, sophisticated growl repeatedly clashed with Eager's higher and shriller attack.  As a result the pair seldom seemed to be singing together, rather usually handled the material by swapping choruses.

 

- Given you usually want to draw the listener in with the first song, I'm not sure what the logic was in picking a big, atonal ballad like 'As the Seasons Change' for the album opener.  It literally seemed to take the song  forever to get it's bearings and even then Butler and Eager seemed less than enthused with the track, substituting sheer vocal power for fineness in an effort to get through the song.   rating: ** stars

- The pair's cover of Terry Callier's 'Lean On Me' was a far better effort.  Starting out as a fairly stripped down effort, it slowly morphed into an organ-propelled Gospel-influenced shout out.   rating: *** stars

- One of the album's more up tempo numbers, 'I Like Your Lovin'' found Eager taking the lead.  While I actually liked the song quite a bit, Eager came off as shrill and pitchy.  You almost got the impression she was feeling under the gun to match Butler's instantly recognizable performances.   rating: ** stars

- Deciding to take a Marvin Gaye classic and slow it down to a dirge was probably a questionable artistic decision.  Giving the song a pseudo-jazzy flavor didn't help the results either.  For their part you could almost feel Butler and Eager treading gently around the song.   Certainly wouldn't make you forget the Gaye-Tammi Terrell original.   rating: ** stars

- 'Can't Understand It' was easily the album's most commercial and radio friendly track.  Great melody and hook and for once Butler and Eager seemed to actually be working in the same gear.  Eager was still somewhat shrill, but the hook was so good you could overlook it.   rating: **** stars

- 'How Long Will It Last' started side two with another effort where the two actually seemed in step with one another.  That said, I didn't particularly like the dirge-tempo, supper club ballad ...   rating: ** stars

- Perhaps the best up-tempo number on the album, 'Ever Since I Can Remember' actually generated a bit of heat and found the pair actually harmonizing together.  Nice, breezy melody that was perfect for Butler's voice.   rating: **** stars

- 'The Love We Had Stays On My Mind' was another pretty, but ultimately dull big ballad ...   rating: ** stars

- The album's second Motown cover, 'Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me a Little While)' found the pair actually trying to get funky.  Not sure that I really like what they did to the Motown classic, but it was different and it was nice to see them do something other than a slow grind ballad.   rating: *** stars

- Having dumped all over their penchant for ballad, I'll admit the closer 'Were We Lovers, Were We Friends' wasn't have bad.  Yeah, the hardship of married life lyrics were sappy beyond all description, but having gone through a divorce as a parent I guess I could kind of identify with the concept.   rating: *** stars

 

 

Mercury tapped the album for a single in the form of:

 

 

- 'Can't Understand It' b/w 'How Long Will It Last' (Mercury catalog number 73395)

 

For two gifted performers, the results were surprisingly bland and forgettable.  Even less chemistry than Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross, or Edwin Starr and Blinky ... 

 

"The Love We Have, The Love We Had" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) As the Seasons Change   (Herscholt Polk - Homer Talbert) - 4:20

2.) Lean On Me   (Terry Callier) - 3:40

3.) I Like Your Lovin'   (Billy Butler - James Blumenberg - L. Neely - M. Yancy) - 2:54

4.) If the World We Mine   (Marvin Gaye) - 4:22

5.) Can't Understand It   (Charles Jackson - M. Yancy) - 3:02

(side 2)

1.) How Long Will It Last   (Billy Butler - James Blumenberg - L. Neely) - 4:00

2.) Ever Since I Can Remember   (M. Farrow - Billy Butler - R. Massey) - 3:09

3.) The Love We Had Stays On My Mind   (Terry Callier - L. Wade) - 4:05

4.) Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me a Little While)   (Eddie Holland - Lamont Dozier - Brian Holland) - 3:12

5.) Were We Lovers, Were We Friends   (Herscholt Polk - Homer Talbert) - 3:12

 

 


Genre: soul

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Nothing Says I Love You Like I Love You

Company: Philadelphia International

Catalog: JZ-35510

Year: 1978

Country/State: Chicago, Illinois

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: original inner sleeve

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: 4288

Price: $7.00

Cost: $66.00

 

With over  50 albums in his catalog, Jerry Butler material isn't exactly rare.  That said, this 1978 release is interesting in that in marks a reunion with producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, as well as the singer's first effort after nearly a decade with Motown.

 

Signed by Philadelphia International, 1978's "Nothing Says I Love You Like I Love You" proved surprisingly accomplished.  At least part of the credit went to the involvement and enthusiasm of label owners Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff.  The pair produced seven of the eight tracks and also co-wrote seven of the eight tracks with Butler.  To be honest, the collaboration had the potential to be a disaster, with a good chance that the trademarked Philly International 'sound' would simply overwhelm and ultimately drown Butler.  Thankfully, for the most part that didn't happen.  While tracks such as 'I'm Just Thinking About) Cooling Out' (which was also released as a 12" dance single) and 'Mighty Good People reflected a light disco sound, the rhythms were kept under control, keeping the focus on Butler's instantly recognizable voice. Not exactly a major breakthrough, but a keeper for Butler fans. 

"Nothing Says I Love You Like I Love You" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) (I'm Just Thinking About) Cooling Out   (Kenny Gamble - Leon Huff - Jerry Butler) - 

2,) Let's Make Love   (Kenny Gamble - Leon Huff - Jerry Butler) - 

3.) Sad Eyes   (Kenny Gamble - Leon Huff - Jerry Butler) - 

4.) Mighty Good People   (Kenny Gamble - Leon Huff - Jerry Butler) - 

(side 2)

1.) I'm Glad To Be Back   (Joseph Jefferson - Jerry Butler - Jack Faith) - 

2.) Nothing Says I Love You Like I Love You   (Kenny Gamble - Leon Huff - Jerry Butler) - 

3.) Dream World   (Kenny Gamble - Leon Huff - Jerry Butler) - 

4.) Are You Lonely Tonight   (Kenny Gamble - Leon Huff - Jerry Butler) - 


 

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