Archive for rick rubin

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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Rubin bio gives hints of producer at work

Posted in red devils with tags , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2010 by J.J.

Simply calling Rick Rubin a “producer” misses what has made him such an important modern musical figure: He has been a guru, shaman, caretaker, curator, therapist and friend for many artists, coaxing some to produce their greatest music ever. What he does simply cannot be reproduced.

Using already-published interviews as a backbone, author Jake Brown constructs a discography-based look at Rubin’s career in the recently released book “Rick Rubin: In the Studio” (ECW Press). Not a tabloidy tell-all, “In the Studio” instead is a gearhead’s delight, giving some insight into the famed Rick Rubin recording process.

Red Devils fans, however, will be let down — the Devils’ Rubin-produced “King King” is not mentioned save for a discography at the back of the book. The lone mention of the Devils in the text is a graph about the Mick Jagger blues sessions, not even noting that this “Los Angeles blues ensemble” was a Def American band.

However, there are some insights that can be gleaned into “King King” by studying Rubin’s other works and his philosophy — his less is more, or “production by reduction,” style.

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Show souvenirs

Posted in red devils with tags , , , , , , , , on December 23, 2009 by J.J.

Christmas came a little early here at nofightin.com, thanks to some cool memorabilia shared by Andrew Rackauskas.

Rackauskas, who tells us he ran a ’90s fanzine called Spinal Column (his 13 review can be found on Jasper Heikens’ site), sent us an e-mail, relating stories about seeing the Devils every week at Jack’s Sugar Shack in L.A.:

I can’t tell you how lucky I felt getting to watch them virtually every Thursday for so long! Once Jack’s moved to the Hollywood/Vine location, the vibe was killed, and the Devils started playing far less. I was also really lucky to see them play as the house band at the “Ciao Def” party where Rick Rubin’s label got rid of the “Def” and made it “American Recordings.” They played in a bowling alley off Olympic in Koreatown in L.A. that is no longer there. It was quite the party! I remember waiters walking around w/ wheel-barrows of beer and booze!

Check out these photos he’s passed along:

Rackauskas has a harmonica signed by Lester Butler, "but I'm never going to part with that!"


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Photos: Red Devils’ last King King gig, 1993

Posted in red devils with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 20, 2009 by J.J.

Red Devils at the King King

Walk up to the door, and pay the cover — it’s Monday night at the King King club in Hollywood, and The Red Devils are on stage.

1kingkingFor those of us who missed it the first time around, these photos of the Devils at the King King, taken by Vince Jordan, are a great find. Jordan owned and booked the Blue Cafe in Long Beach, Calif., from 1992 to 2003. The club was another favorite haunt of The Red Devils and related bands; Jordan and Lester Butler were also good friends (he and his club get a thanks on the “13” disc).

Jordan said these photos were taken at the Devils’ last gig at the King King, probably June 14, 1993 (that was a Monday). The timing as a “last gig” makes sense; Paul Size would be out of the band later that summer, and the original King King would close shop for good by the end of the year.

7kingking_rubinBesides the great photos of the band and the scene, check out an ultra-rare photo of producer Rick Rubin and Butler hanging out on a bench outside the club (as seen on the “King King” album cover), as well as a couple with original Blue Shadows/Red Devils guitarist — as well as former Blasters and 13 member — Smokey Hormel sitting in.

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Red Devils 1992 Def American press kit

Posted in red devils with tags , , , , , , , , on February 11, 2009 by J.J.

def_american_onesheetNot knowing much about The Red Devils in 1992, the Def American press kit was pretty much the only source of info I had for the band. I got this press kit while working at the Indiana Daily Student, before the band came to play a gig at Jake’s Nightclub. I’ll write more about that experience later, but for now, let’s crack open the envelope:

The main piece in the kit was the Red Devils’ one-sheet, a pretty detailed bio of the band, with nods to Hollywood Fats, Junior Watson and more. This is still some required reading for Devils’ fans — it sort of fills in the mythological blanks, and pegs the trio of Lester Butler, Bill Bateman and Jonny Ray Bartel as the three founding members.
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