PRESTIGE WEEK, DAY THREE

Billy Butler: Blow For the Crossing

From Guitar Soul (Prestige, 1969)

I’ve featured Billy Butler before on Soul Sides – taking a cut from one of his other Prestige albums, This Is Billy Butler. He recorded a total of four albums with the label but played on many others, including with King Curtis, Gene Ammons and especially Houston Person.

“A Blow For The Crossing,” catches your attention the instant it opens with Butler’s distinctive guitar licks and then it shifts into Specs Powell’s building drum break. The song moves with grace and patience, building steam so to say (the fake train whistle is a nice effect), and it’s able to maintain that rich groove the whole way through. Butler’s playing blends a more classical guitar-playing approach but with definite influences from the world of rock. And that effect Butler achieves – is it steel-pedel guitar? A bottleneck style? – is so distinctive and mesmerizing.

Tomorrow: Sonny Stitt turns it on.

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