Blue Shadows 1991 on YouTube
Before signing with Def American Records and being given the name The Red Devils by producer Rick Rubin, Lester Butler’s band was known as The Blue Shadows. They were featured in a showcase for new bands at something called The Colvin Convention (?), an event for radio and record companies in Los Angeles in 1991. This clip is from that performance.
The videos offer a fascinating look at the Devils before hitting it “big.” Unfortunately, checker764 didn’t make the videos available for embedding, but here are the links to the two videos:
AUTOMATIC: The video starts with the band already playing, so there’s no telling if Lester Butler’s signature harp intro was in use on this version. However, the song is noticeably different right off the bat. It’s traditional Chicago blues-style, rather than the hard-driving version we’re familiar with. Bill Bateman is playing a classic double-shuffle on the snare and hi hats, giving “Automatic” a much more bouncy feel. Butler takes several verses of solos over this blues-jammy version, and even tacks on an extra verse toward the end.
I’M READY: Proving the Devils’ unique mash-up of Muddy’s “I’m Ready” with Slim Harpo’s “Scratch My Back” was already intact as early as 1991. What’s cool is that the song is even more Slim Harpo-y by way of The Fabulous Thunderbirds, what with all the chorus effect on Paul Size’s guitar and his Jimmie Vaughan-flavored solo. Somewhere between this version and “King King,” the song ditched the tribute vibe. And now, some 17 years later, the Devils’ “I’m Ready” is the preferred arrangement for blues bands everywhere.
Some other cool things: Lester’s alt-rock haircut and dance moves; the blue lighting for The Blue Shadows; Lester calling out the next song — “In D from the five”; Paul Size looking like “The Kid”; and the dancers shaking it in front of the stage.
Checker764 has several other great, classic Chicago blues clips on his channel, so head on over there.