Wednesday, 24 October 2018

The Butts Band (1974)

I always had a bit of an uncomfortable aversion to the Doors. On the one hand I've never been particularly impressed by Jim Morrison, or at least I've never been impressed by the myth of Morrison as visionary prophet; but on the other it's difficult to deny the quality of the music, even with himself belching his sixth form poetry over the top. I'm not even sure why I'm bothered, given the high quota of shitheads already taking up shelf space in my record collection and how I can still listen to the Pistols without recalling Lydon sharing a trustworthy working class pint with grinning Nigel Farage; but never mind because I've just discovered the existence of the Butts Band.

I never realised that the Doors had recorded albums without Morrison, which is probably my fault for assuming that all music was shit prior to the Damned releasing New Rose. It turns out that just two Doors were involved, but crucially neither of them were Jim Morrison due to his having departed for that great sixth form common room in the sky, making it possible for me to appreciate the vibe without anything of a self-important disposition getting in the way; and they must have been doing something right, because this is some considerable distance outside of my comfort zone.

The problem I have with the seventies is that, contrary to the claims of nostalgic telly shows, it really wasn't all David Bowie and Marc Bolan popping around Twiggy's house to watch Doctor Who, and I know this because I was actually there, meaning I was actually there in the seventies rather than at Twiggy's house. Mostly it was young beige men with flares, beards and sunglasses wishing they were on a beach in California, and the music was horrible and earnest and twiddly in all the wrong places*; but in every shower of shite there's always some undigested diced carrot representing the form as it should have been, and should be remembered - something which sounds amazing even before Quentin Tarantino ironically stripes it onto footage of a sharp dressed man kicking someone's head off. I can think of about a million records that should have sounded like the Butts Band but didn't, but never mind.

They've retained that bluesy quality which made the Doors sound so powerful, dark and brooding without becoming ponderous; and on this foundation they've built a record which is actually sort of light without being fluff, and even pretty funky. It has a soulful edge without sounding like it's trying to prove anything, and which probably means we're long overdue Michael Gira feeling he has to cover I Won't Be Alone Anymore. This is a record which probably constitutes a postscript, and yet to my ears it sounds like a refinement of what they were doing before. Would that a few more seventies also rans had been this good.

I gather there was a second album with a different line-up augmenting Densmore and Kreiger, but they got it so right on this one that I'm a bit wary of tracking it down.

*: Relax, Daphne - I didn't mean ELP.

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