Archive for james harman

13 years later: Another look at “13 featuring Lester Butler”

Posted in 13 with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 10, 2010 by J.J.

“When you’re talking about blues, you’re talking
about storytelling. … You have to bring something to the table.
You have to have a story to tell.”

13 years ago tonight, Lester Butler and his gang took the stage at the Bar Deluxe in Hollywood to celebrate the release of the album “13 featuring Lester Butler.” [*]

Fans of The Red Devils’ “King King” were in for a surprise with this new disc: While “King King” was raw, buzzy and live, “13” was sharp and edgy. “King King” was a tight ensemble record; “13” sounded like a blues band riot. “King King” relied on classic blues shuffles; “13” pushed the envelope into punk, rock, boogie, R&B and jam. “King King” celebrated women, cars and booze; “13” was a junkie travelogue, documenting the seedy side of life as seen by Butler in the five years since The Red Devils’ triumphs.

For all their differences, “13” and “King King” still go hand-in-hand; if you love one, you probably love the other.

But 13 was a mission statement by Butler, with one foot firmly in blues and the other somewhere in space. Distribution on the small independent blues and roots label Hightone seemingly gave Butler carte blanche to follow his muse (check out the psychedelic cyber-tarot nightmare album cover and confusing labeling for proof).

The album he crafted is filled with tales of chaos, desperation and regret, the music stripped raw in the studio — simple, pounding drums; barrelhouse piano; snaky, funky guitar; and Butler’s vocals in front, the singer damn near ingesting the mic and screaming in your ear.
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The nofightin.com store is now open

Posted in red devils, related music with tags , , , , , , on February 18, 2010 by J.J.

Looking for some of the great music we’ve been talking about here? We’ve made it easy for you to get some great tunes with the nofightin.com store on Amazon.com.

Though there are really only two CDs between The Red Devils and 13, there are dozens of other associated records we’d like to turn you on to. We’re going to curate the store to be the best from each member of The Red Devils, their influences and their contemporaries, hopefully giving you a little more of an idea of who’s who on these records.

Heard Lester Butler talk about James Harman, but you don’t know where to start? We’ve got those records, so we can help ya out.

And if you were thinking of scoring a Harman disc, by getting it from the nofightin.com store, we get a little taste and can help keep the site running.

We promise not to burn you with “sounds like The Red Devils” when it doesn’t. Now, not too many bands do sound like the Devils, but if you like them, you might be ready for some of these other artists.

DVD review: Lester Butler at his best

Posted in 13 with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2009 by J.J.

It’s very easy in hindsight to project added significance to the DVD “Live at Moulin Blues Ospel 1998 — Lester’s Legendary Last Gig.” Every song choice, every note, every glance can take on a different meaning knowing that Butler would be dead just a week later.

The reality is he probably considered it just another gig. A great gig, a lot of fun, but a gig nonetheless.

On any level you choose to watch it, this DVD is required viewing for Lester Butler and Red Devils fans.

Long available on bootleg video, this new official version actually enhances both Butler’s myth and his reality. It shows him to be an outstanding frontman and bandleader and also, for the first time, gives a glimpse at the offstage Lester his family and close friends knew.

While the opening graphic demures, “These recordings were never meant to be published. Therefore we apologize for the poor video and sound quality,” this DVD of the May 2, 1998, concert is a significant step up from the VHS version circulating among tape-traders. The sound and picture quality is very good most times; some mixing problems mar a few otherwise fine performances.
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Lester Butler — 13 with a bullet!

Posted in lester butler with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 16, 2009 by J.J.

One of the best interviews with Lester Butler floating on the Internet is a 1997 Q&A with New Zealand music magazine The Real Groove called “13 with a bullet!” It touches on blues, drugs, religion and spirituality, tattoos, death, rehab and more. The interview is getting harder to find on the web, so here it is once again:

LESTER BUTLER — 13 with a bullet!
By Arsenio Orteza, The Real Groove

lester_13

Were truth serum forced down the throats of blues aficionados, many of them might confess to admiring or respecting the importance of the blues a lot more than they actually enjoy the music. And who could blame them? The blues is, after all, the most repetitious music in the Western world, and let him who has never trumpeted music for ulterior motives cast the first rolling stone.

Lester Butler, the 37-year-old, harp-playing force of nature who first came to notoriety as the front man for the late and much-lamented Red Devils, plays a different kind of blues altogether. In fact, he and his new band 13 don’t so much play the blues as allow it to inhabit them and throttle them within an inch of their professional viability. (“We broke mics, and it was fun,” laughs Butler in reference to the recording of 13 Featuring Lester Butler, their new Hightone album. “But we’ll never record in that studio again because they’re totally pissed at how many mics I broke. That wasn’t ‘respectful.’”) As a result, the 13 songs on 13 Featuring Lester Butler — especially the homicidally maniacal “Plague of Madness” – don’t sound performed so much as possessed.

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