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The Essential Jerry Butler

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Album Review

Jerry Butler was known as the Ice Man, and his smooth voice shines on this ten-song budget collection of his late-'60s work for Mercury Records, in particular 1968's The Iceman Cometh and 1969's Ice on Ice. His two biggest hits from the era — "Only the Strong Survive" and "Hey Western Union Man" — are here, and the rest of the tracks are fine examples of the slickly produced Chicago/Philly sound that dominated soul music during that time. Indeed, many of the songs here are produced and written by the duo who brought Philly soul to prominence, Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. The only problem with the collection is that it doesn't really gather up all of Butler's hits and best songs of the era. Once you get past the two hits, it seems to be almost a random selection of tracks — all good solid soul to be sure, but this disc might be the only Jerry Butler disc someone might buy, and if he or she is only going to buy one Butler disc, it should be one that has his hits. In fact, what you really should do if you are interested in this material is pony up the extra couple of dollars and buy Mercury's The Philadelphia Sessions, which has all the tracks from The Iceman Cometh and Ice on Ice plus a couple more. Or try to track down the out of print Iceman: The Mercury Years, which has tracks from his entire 1965-1974 stay at Mercury. If you are interested in getting hits from Butler's entire career, Rhino's 1987 collection The Best of Jerry Butler is still the only place to turn. It alone deserves the title "Essential" that this collection has unjustly been assigned. [The Collectables release of The Essential Jerry Butler contains the same tracks as 1997's PSM release. All that is different is the cover.]

Customer Reviews

Old School

Jerry has the type of voice that will make a woman want to leave her man. Silky soul and smooth. A timeless classic.


Born: December 8, 1939 in Sunflower, MS

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Jerry Butler's career spans four decades; he recorded more than 50 albums and his voice is one of the most distinguished voices in all of music. As soulful as ever, yet smooth as ice, his nickname "the Ice Man" epitomizes his demeanor -- and sound. In spite of his status as a true music icon, he remains humble. Butler moved from Sunflower, MS, to Chicago, IL, at the age of three during the mass migration of blacks from the South to the North. (He grew up in an area which is now known as the Cabrini-Green...
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