The Butanes featuring Willie Walker, Long Time Thing

Posted on July 19, 2011 by

Artist: The Butanes Featuring Willie Walker
Title: Long Time Thing
Label: Haute Records 1111
Released: April 8, 2011

The Butanes have set the standard in the Twin Cities blues scene for nearly 30 years. Their professional approach to the business and their abilities within the idiom have landed them jobs at home and abroad backing some of the legends of soul, blues and r&b, like Bo Diddley, Percy Sledge, Johnny Copeland, Little Johnny Taylor and many more.

Long Time Thing is a culmination of the blues and its sub-genres. Leader Curtis Obeda admits, “We did want to make a blues record but not the usual one. Willie (Walker) and I chose to pattern it on Sam Cooke’s My Kind of Blues but it’s more their kind of blues” drawing upon the drawing upon the band’s influences and musicians with whom they have worked. It touches upon Sam Cooke, Louis Williams, Ray Charles’ work with the Basie band, Hubert Sumlin, Albert Collins and James Carr to cite a few.

What sets this apart from other modern blues albums are Willie Walker’s Memphis pedigree, Michael B. Nelson’s horn arrangements and all the tracks are Obeda originals. You don’t have to sit through another version of “Mustang Sally” or “Sweet Home Chicago.”

Walker possesses a pure soulful voice. He naturally works his way through songs, relying on instinct and talent, not mechanics. He’s a Sam Cooke devotee, but he’s flexible, being able to embody the blues in “Dirty Deeds” or “If You Expect To See Another Day.” Conversely, he can swing easy in numbers like, “I’m Okay,” and “You Never Had A Love Like Mine,” and turn it up a notch in the title track as well as in “I Just Don’t Believe.” Walker adapts well to the dynamics of the disc.

Michael B. Nelson has a long list of credentials: he toured and arranged horns for Prince and has either backed or written arrangements for Sammy Davis Jr., Chaka Khan, Maceo Parker and Larry Graham. Five of the sixteen tracks on Long Time Thing incorporate a ten-piece horn section, with Nelson playing trombone.

Many of the Obeda originals were songs he had written with other musicians in mind. “You Never Had A Love Like Mine” came from working with Little Johnny Taylor, “How Long You Think You Got” was tailor-made for Bonnie Raitt, and “Let’s Fall In Love” were inspired by a phrase from James Carr, while Carr dined on fried chicken and played Spades at the Obeda residence. The point is, these songs respect the traditions of their respective genres, listening to Long Time Thing is like opening up a time capsule and hearing songs that were tucked away for the last 40 to 50 years.

Long Time Thing is a reflection of Obeda and the Butanes’ career in music. It travels across the same varying terrains of blues and soul the band has traversed over the years. It draws upon the music they’ve played, musicians they’ve encountered, legends they’ve created and truths they’ve lived. After almost thirty years in the business, it is safe to say that the band is still a long-time thing. They have not taken any shortcut to achieve a short-term gain.

Grade:

One Response to “The Butanes featuring Willie Walker, Long Time Thing”

  1. Mike Elias says:

    I would’ve given it an A+ but the liner notes on the CD were way too long.

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