In lieu of a legit Red Devils sophomore album, fans should look to live performances such as 1993’s outstanding “2 Meter Sessies” recording to fill the void.
The 2 Meter Sessies is a Dutch radio series, a live-in-the-studio “unplugged” session. Performers over the years include Radiohead, Foo Fighters, Cranberries, Blind Melon, J.J. Cale, Jackson Browne and many others. Of course, the Devils didn’t unplug at all, giving one of their essential performances — all caught on tape. (Read more about the Sessies on nl.wikipedia.org.)
The Devils’ performance was recorded May 3, 1993, at Bullet Sound Studios in the Netherlands, just two days after their infamous Moulin Blues Festival appearance. This time, the band sounds rested and ready; it’s just as compelling a performance as Moulin, but without the debauchery. It sounds like a hardworking blues band on top of their game.
The set is typical of the band’s show during this period, a solid mix of “King King” favorites and other choice picks. Several of the songs were earmarked as possibilities for the band’s full-length follow-up to “King King.”
What sets these recordings apart is the superior audio quality to most Devils boots online, as well as the in-studio approach, letting the band focus on the songs rather than a “performance” for an audience.
After an intro in Dutch by presenter Jan Douwe Kroeske (who gets the song title “Blackwater Roll” phonetically mangled as “Like a Water Roll” — never mind that the cut is actually “The Hook” from the EP “Blackwater Roll”), the band launches into the standard “She’s Dynamite,” a warmup shuffle if there ever was one.
Things really heat up on the familiar boogie “Your Time to Cry” (or “Backstreet Crawler” or “Your Turn to Cry” or one of any other number of mislabelings on Devils’ boots). Driven by Bill Bateman’s hyperspeed rockabilly beat and Paul Size’s manic guitar playing, the song is a masterclass in rowdy dynamics — the boogie is one long buildup, with a seismic release. The band plays with ESP, Bateman’s short snare rolls pushing the band’s intensity level. Lester Butler’s vocals sound subdued by comparison, but his harp style was built for riffing on a number like this.
Next up is an essential find for Devils’ fans, a live rendering of “Louisiana Blues” or, actually, Howlin’ Wolf’s “Commit a Crime,” in groove and lyrics. It’s a departure for the band, as it is the least rocked-out blues tune on the set. It sounds damn near traditional compared to the rest of the set. But the midtempo, one-chord shuffle is the perfect palate for Butler and Size to trade licks — Size standing out for his Hubert Sumlin-style licks.
A three-song “King King” section follows, notable for the exotic take on “I Wish You Would,” opening with Butler’s harp and Bateman’s Billy Boy beat. “Cross Your Heart” is an eight-minute platform for serious blues by Size, and reverb-drenched singing by Butler, sounding as desperate as a man can be — “you’re not supposed to tell a lie.” The Devils National Anthem, “Automatic,” is played with a funkiness that is accentuated without crowd noise; a YouTube video from the program shows just how much fun this song can be to play.
The set closes with “Like a Water Roll,” but we’ll correctly call it “The Hook.” It’s the most rocked-out number of the set, having no particular classic blues origin, though it certainly owes a debt to Buddy Guy, and plays a bit off the “Killing Floor” lick (albeit on acid). Butler testifies, “I’m just a bad old man, I’m not afraid to die; if you mess with me, I’ll make your mama cry,” before jumping up with a frenetic harp solo that is just all groove.
Size takes the reigns again in the last two minutes of the eight-minute jam. Here he cuts loose in a way that begs the question: Why isn’t this guy a capital G Guitar God? Why aren’t kids begging for “Guitar Hero: Paul Size Edition”? The playing is that damn good.
- Intro (0:46)
- “She’s Dynamite” (5:00)
- “Backstreet Crawler” (labeled as “Your Time To Cry”) (5:32)
- “Commit a Crime” (labeled as “Louisiana Blues”) (4:03)
- “I Wish You Would” (4:11)
- “Cross Your Heart” (7:54)
- “Automatic” (5:40)
- “The Hook” (labeled as “Like A Water Roll”) (7:59)
The Devils’ “2 Meter Sessies” ranks as one of the most-searched items on nofightin.com.
There are several videos on YouTube with cuts from the session, and bootlegs for this one are relatively easy to find. The trick is to also search for The Red Devils and Bullet Sound Studios, as one of the most popular versions of this set comes with that name.
Note: This story was first published May 26, 2009, and updated on Aug. 27, 2021.
5 thoughts on “Red Devils play essential set on ‘2 Meter Sessies’ (1993)”
…a band that started working steamingly. (prob talking about a previous performance.) And when I asked the band to play 4 or 5 songs, they said…well..that’s probably not enough, we really get going around the 3rd song.
So, if we do 5, we only just got started. Then I said, do whatever you want..eventually this led to a session of over 40 minutes, with here and there a longer version of songs that were also on the record.
Recently, this session has been requested several times, so I will let you hear the whole session.
(intro automatic..quite funny..he sounds a bit frustrated..)…when the american band the Red Devils enters the studio, I am schocked (scared shitless almost).
Dark eyes, alarmingly high craving for coffee, and not very talkative…(looked like they have not slept). When I ask the drummer if they had a long trip, he responded they had been in Holland for two days, but had not slept.
After a performance in Paradiso, they walked around the Red light district a bit, and ended up in a coffee shop. Turned out there was more than just coffee you could get there!!
To go alongside Den’s translation, maybe this transcript and translation of both Jan Douwe Kroeske comments are of some interresty to the Devils/Butler fans:
“(Als) ik de Amerikaanse Red Devils de studio binnen zie rollen schrik ik me kapot: wallen tot op de knieën, verontrustend veel zin in koffie en weinig spraakzaam. Als ik drummer Bill Bateman vraag of ze een zware reis hebben gehad, zegt hij dat ze al 2 dagen in Nederland zijn, zonder te slapen. Na Paradiso waren de Devils over de Wallen gewandeld en daarna in een koffieshop beland. Daar bleek je niet alleen koffie te kunnen bestellen. Zanger Lester Butler zegt dat het niet alleen de soft-drugs zijn die zijn ogen hebben geopend voor Holland. Hij heeft de nacht ervoor 2 uur op een fiets gezeten. De man is gek op wielrennen.” – Jan Douwe Kroeske
“(When) I see the american Red Devils roll into the studio I am shocked: bags under their eyes to their knees, alarming craving for coffee and scarcely talkative. When I ask drummer Bill Bateman if they had a tough trip, he says they have already been in Holland for 2 days, without sleep. After Paradiso the Devils took a walk in the Wallen and ended up in a coffe shop afterwards. It turned out you could order more than coffee there. Singer Lester Butler says it wasn’t just the soft drugs that opened his eyes to Holland. The previous night he spent 2 hours on a bycicle. The man loves bike racing.”
Note: ‘De Wallen’ is Amsterdam’s infamous red light district. ‘Paradiso’ is the Amsterdam venue where the Red Devils performed.
(2) MP3: 2 Meter Sessies intro
“…zitten. Een band die – eh – stomend aan het werk ging, en – eh – toen ik vroeg aan de heren of ze een 4-tal, 5-tal nummers wilden spelen zeiden ze van: “Nouuu, da’s een beetje weinig. Wij komen pas echt op gang bij nummer 3, dus als we er dan 5 moeten maken zijn we nauwelijks op gang gekomen”. Ik heb gezegd: “Weet je wat: doe maar wat je wil doen.” Uiteindelijk rolde daar een sessie uit van – eh – ruim 40 minuten met een – eh – links en rechts wat langere uitvoering van de nummers nummers die ook op plaat stonden. Em, afgelopen tijd werd die sessie van Red Devils weer veel aangevraagd dus ik ga hem nu in zijn geheel laten horen aan je. 7 nummers. Eerst She’s Dynamite. Daarna Your Time to Cry, Louisiana Blues, I wish You would, Cross Your Heart, Automatic en Like A Water Roll. In de komende 40 minuten de blues rock van de Red Devils.”
“…sit. A band that – uh – went to work steaming and – uh – when I asked the gentlemen to play 4 or 5 songs they said like: ‘Weeeell, that a bit sparse. We only really get into things by the third song, so if we have to make 5 we will hardly have gotten up to speed’. And I told them: ‘You know what: do what you want to do’. Eventually this turned into a session of – uh – over 40 minutes with a – uh – here and there a bit longer version of the songs that were also on record. Ehm, over the last period there were a lot of request for this Red Devils session again so I am going to let you here it complete. 7 songs. First She’s Dynamite. Next Your Time to Cry, Louisiana Blues, I wish You would, Cross Your Heart, Automatic and Like A Water Roll. For the next 40 minutes – the Red Devils’ blues rock.”
Thanks for the translations … they are appreciated!
Recorded by me , hannuijten.nl
Been talking with Jan Douwe Kroeske about these recordings lately. The need to be digitazed. There are images/videorecordings of this recordingsession with multiple cameras. They are still in roughshape and need to be edited…once!