George "Wild Child" Butler is a wickedly gifted blues lifer who has, none the less, spent most of his career just under the national radar. "Sho' 'Nuf," Butler's initial release on the APO label is a first-rate effort that should do much to enhance his reputation
while also serving as a testament to his abilities for future generations. This disc manages to merge both the creative and technical aspects of recording into a seamless package that intimately captures the essence of Post-War Chicago Blues.
Recorded in late January of 2000 at the Blues Heaven studio in Salinas Kansas, this set pairs the singer / harpist with a dream team rhythm section composed of first call bassist Bob Stroeger and shuffle king Sam Lay on drums. The sound quality is flawless thanks to the perfect acoustics of the former church turned studio combined with production work by APO founder Chad Kassem and his crack engineering staff.
Audiophile Kassem has enlisted the aid of CO-producer and APO house guitarist James D. Lane to add authenticity to the technical ecstasy. Lane, the son of Muddy Water's collaborator Jimmie Rogers, provides the final spark that propels this set into the
From the percolating lead track "Open Up Baby" on, the sparse arrangements allow plenty of room for interplay that the veteran musicians wisely opt to fill with just the right notes and none to spare. A prime example of this approach is the trance inducing "Sweet Daddio." Lane's immaculate lead lines slither in and out, propelling, but not overwhelming the song while Stroeger and Lay maintain an incessant groove.
All facets of Butler's blues are revealed here. From the driving acoustic simplicity of "You Had Quit Me," featuring guitar by label mate Jimmie Lee Robinson to the declamatory harp fueled solo cut "Funky Things." Throughout, the tracks alternate between back porch intimacy and juke joint intensity.
Butler's song writing, singing and harp playing are elemental blues. He is more primal force than stylist. Perhaps this helps explain how he could be overlooked in favor of classic blues entertainers like Waters and current contemporaries such as Buddy Guy.
Twenty-five years ago Butler's music could have been described as strong, but not out of the ordinary. With the passage of time, however he becomes important as living proof of just how powerful and stirring pure blues can be.
P.O. Box 1905
Salina, Kansas 67402-1905
Tel. (785) 825-8609
Fax (785) 825-0156
This review is copyright © 2001 by Bill Halaszynski, and Blues On Stage at: www.mnblues.com, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.