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# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

13 Featuring Lester Butler - 13

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 28 / 11 / 2011

13 Featuring Lester Butler - 13
Label: Floating World Records
Format: CD


First-rate combination of studio and live tracks on reissue of 1997 only album from blues act 13, the project of late vocalist and harmonica player Lester Butler

Originally released in 1997 and increasingly hard to find over the last few years, this was the only album released by 13, the band Lester Butler formed after his previous group, the Red Devils, broke up. ‘Live at the King King’ was a well-received blues set produced by Rick Rubin, which garnered the Red Devils a loyal following, and the sole 13 album follows the same path. While Butler was only one member of the five-strong 13, being the vocalist and writer of the original material the band recorded as well as being a fine harp player, he was obviously the centre of attention as the front man. Sadly in 1998, Butler died unexpectedly at the age of 38, the cause of death was determined as a lethal combination of heroin and cocaine. It would appear that, as usual, the events leading up to his death are not as straightforward as they might seem, but for those interested I guess that’s what the internet is there for… What is certain is that once again the music world was robbed too soon of someone who could have been a major talent. It’s not just apparent on this re-issue that Butler and his band had something special, Mick Jagger took them into the studio around the time of his ‘Wandering Spirit’ album, but the tracks they cut never made the final selection. The handful of covers that grace this album are hardly surprising. ‘Smoke Stack Lightning’, ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’ and Elmore James’ ‘So Mean To Me’ must have been covered by all blues bands throughout the years, but Butler and his cohorts manage to add a little freshness to the songs to keep them interesting, particularly in their reading of ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’ which apart from Butler’s expected expertise on the harmonica rages along with some sterling guitar runs from either Alex Schultz or Smokey Hormel. Even Doctor Ross’ ‘Boogie Disease’ sounds remarkably contemporary for a song that must be well over fifty years old now. It’s one of the best cuts here although it has to be said that the Butler originals have no problem standing next to such well known blues standards like that. There’s a live feeling throughout this album, although it’s obvious that at least occasionally Butler must have overdubbed his vocals as he sometimes plays his harp along with the rest of the band while backing his vocals rather than the more natural vocal-harmonica-vocal process which we are more familiar with. But there are three ‘real’ live tracks tagged on to the end of the original thirteen-song-strong album. These were recorded at The Tamines Festival in France in 1997 which fit in nicely with the time the actual album was put to tape. They are all covers, Billy Boy Arnold’s ‘I Wish You Would’, another version of ‘Boogie Disease’ and another shot at ‘So Mean To Me’ both extending the studio versions by a good three minutes each and showing just how strong the band were live. ’13’ will be snapped up by those who only discovered Butler after his sad passing and objected to the high prices the original pressing was attracting. On the evidence of this set the music world lost a talented white blues singer who not only understood the genre but was also adept at recreating it.

Track Listing:-
1 So Low Down
3 Sweet Tooth
4 Black Hearted Woman
5 Close To You
6 Smoke Stack Lightning
7 Pray For Me
8 So Mean To Me
9 Way Down South
10 Boogie Disease
11 Plague Of Madness
12 Down In The Alley
13 Baby Please Don't Go
15 I Wish You Would
16 Boggie Disease
17 So Mean To Me

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