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13

FEATURING LESTER BUTLER

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Floating World (FLOATM6111)

Lester Butler's first band, The Red Devils, made the legendary CD ‘Live At King King' which was one of the most riveting and sought after blues albums of the 90s but, worried that they'd never top it, the band couldn't stand the pressure and broke up!

Butler knew he still had some good stuff in store so in 1997 he formed 13 with up and coming bluesmen Alex Schultz, Steven Hodges, Smokey Hormel and Andy Kaulkin (later to be James Harman's band) and together they developed a new feel on some old classics from Howlin' Wolf, Elmore James, Big Joe Williams, Willie Dixon that they recorded alongside Butler's own compositions of lowdown, dragged out blues.

Lester Butler had done it again - achieving much critical acclaim for his brand of pumped out high octane blues but it was to be 13's one and only album. Critics were still praising the vitality and originality of Butler and 13 when, only a few months after the CD was released, the tragic news came through that Butler had died of an overdose.

That album is reissued here with a bonus of three live cuts from 1997. Lester Butler believed that the harmonica was the natural lead instrument in a blues band so every track has tons of forceful driving amplified harp reeling out vibrant, intelligent solos time after time. He had a great blues voice too; a distinctive holler that works on slow numbers like his own Pray For Me and hard boppers like Elmore's So Mean To Me. Guitar isn't neglected though, as Alex Shultz matches Butler's harmonica with some great playing, especially on tracks like Smokestack Lightnin' and Close To You.

This cracking CD will thrill those of you who missed it the first time around but even if you're already familiar with it, the three stonking live bonus tracks from the Tamines festival in France are a very welcome addition.

Lester's star might have been short lived but by golly, it shone bright!

 

Review Date: January 2012

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