Tag Archives: Jerry Butler

Waxing Poetic at Dorchester Projects.

Above, a bit of video from my Artistic Residency last year with Theaster Gates’ Dorchester Projects, in which I wax poetic about Chicago’s own Mercury Records, Jerry Butler, and the Impressions.

I love sharing the stories behind the music I love with the general public; and was reminded of that as I embark on Hosting and Producing “Reclaimed Soul” (a weekly radio show on Vocalo.org) which premieres tomorrow night at 8pm CST. The show, of course, will feature stories as well as music. For more about Reclaimed Soul, click here.

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Just Because I Really Love You: evolution of a groove.

  Below is a record of his that I’ve been getting into lately, “Just Because I Really Love You” by Jerry Butler, circa 1969.   This cut is super smooth and a great example of Jerry’s work on Chicago’s own Mercury Records with Philly greats like Thom Bell and Gamble & Huff (especially the cheeky background vocal at the top).  It’s the flip side of the hit record “Only the Strong Survive”.  It’s also the type of swoon-inducing record made for basement blue light parties.

The record was sampled by J Dilla for “U-Love” on 2006’s Donuts (and in 2002 by French hip-hoppers Hocus Pocus for “Conscient”.

The song was also recently covered (very sweetly, I might add) by Miles Bonny X the Ins. Jive on!


The Ice Man Cometh.

Here’s a follow up to yesterday’s Jerry “The Ice Man” Butler post.  Below, 1969’s “Walking Around in Teardrops”. 

Before Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes and the O’Jays hit the soul stratosphere, there was the late sixties Philly/Chicago fusion that was Gamble/Huff/Martin/Bell/Butler.  Always one to use his starpower to help up-and-comers in the Music Business craft their talents, Jerry Butler proved to be an early Hitmaker for the producing/songwriting team of Gamble & Huff, producer/arranger Thom Bell, and for producer/arranger Bobby Martin (orchestrators of the Philly Sound in the decade that was to come).  

A B-Side gem, I love the hypnotic vibe of “Teardrops”, coupled with the electric sitar and trippy female back-up vocals.  Co-written by Jerry Butler, this cut was arranged by Thom Bell, then riding high of a string of hits (including La-La (Means I Love You)and Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)“) that he had written and produced for the Delfonics.


Black Music Getting Intellectually Involved.

 

Recently, I found an interesting article in the August 22, 1970 issue of Billboard.  Written by Jerry Butler, the piece (entitled “Black Music is Getting Intellectually Involved”) asserts that soul artists were on the road to creating music with greater artistic freedom (i.e. Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, Sly Stone, Marvin Gaye).  This is something Jerry used his star power to foster here in Chicago with his “Workshop” for up-and-coming artists).  He touched on the idea that soul music was evolving past the earthy physicality that bore it, and into a more socially conscious realm (without letting go of its nature).  I love his insight.   He went on to say,

“I’ve found that sometimes while out on the street and I see a beautiful woman I get butterflies in the stomach and that kind of thing.  Well, all of that to me is soulful, that is what soul is.  The thing that you can’t see, but that you can feel, the thing that you can’t touch, but you can feel.”


Billy Butler: Brotherly Soul

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From Jerry Butler’s little brother, Billy, it’s “I’ll Bet You”.  Jerry Butler, of course, was a member of the Impressions (as well as one of the most successful solo acts in Chicago Soul history).  Billy never quite made it out from the shadow of his superstar brother, but he made a few valiant efforts: among them, “Right Track”, and this George Clinton and Sidney Barnes-penned mover, later recorded by Funkadelic. 

Billy started his career at Chicago’s Okeh Records with a group called the Enchanters (later the Chanters).  He was a talented songwriter and guitarist who credited both his brother, Jerry, and Curtis Mayfield for sparking his interest in music.  The artists used to rehearse in the Butler living room.

Later in his career, he recorded with a group called Infinity, but ultimately ended his career solo on Curtis Mayfield’s Curtom Records with the rare 70s groover “Sugar Candy Lady”.