Jon Butcher cut a path through the Boston rock & roll scene when his Johanna Wilde band started making some noise as a terrific mainstream act like their contemporary, Charlie Farren, bucking the "new wave" trend and establishing a presence by staying true to the music's mission. Johanna Wilde evolved into Jon Butcher Axis, and that both of his 1980s major label releases on Polydor are out of print in the new millennium certainly leaves a void for fans, of which there were many. Ocean In Motion: Live In Boston 1984 helps fill that void, despite its flaws. An allegedly "live" CD of vintage Jon Butcher Axis -- said to be from Boston's The Channel Club in 1984 -- sounds too clean to be recorded in front of an audience. The same loop of applause with an annoying and lengthy whistle comes up in between tracks (most noticeably on an otherwise excellent "Don't Say Goodnight.") The Dayton, Ohio label Atom Records must be commended for getting Butcher's music out there, but it's like that studio version of "Fortune Teller" that the Rolling Stones tagged on to Got Live If You Want It!: the fake applause just desecrates otherwise fine music. Seven tunes can be found on the first Polydor LP, Jon Butcher Axis released in 1983, three also appeared on the follow-up, Stare At The Sun: the songs "Victims," "Walk On The Moon," and "Don't Say Goodnight," while the 11th title, "Not Fade Away," is a cover of the Norman Petty/Charles Hardin song made famous by The Rolling Stones. Foreigner's Thom Gimbel, who performs with Aerosmith and is producing Adrian Perry, son of Joe Perry, appears on all tracks on keys, backing vocals, and saxophone, though he wasn't an official bandmember. Jon Butcher gives anecdotes and impressions about his material in the colorful six-page liner note booklet, and that is very substantial. It's an elegant package chock full of photos and insight. It's too bad there's not a Jon Butcher Axis live album from the time this group was busy opening for the J. Geils Band when that ensemble was at the height of their fame. Yes, it's great to have this music available on CD, and maybe Scott Kinnison and Atom Records will go through the vaults for a broadcast from radio station WCOZ and/or find other material from the day. Just hearing this material again makes one point very clear -- Jon Butcher put together some of the most concise and melodic hard rock/pop tunes from Boston's '70s/early '80s scene, and deserved much more success than he achieved. www.jonbutcher.com is the official web page.
An Ocean In Motion: Live In Boston 1984 Review
by Joe Viglione