Henry Butler


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You kids may not be aware of this, but there was a time when the term R&B stood for rhythm and blues, and described a style of music that was readily distinguishable from the pop music mainstream. Today it seems as if R&B has become a term that describes the race of the performer more than it does the music itself. (A Britney Spears album gets filed under rock and pop, whereas if Beyoncé were to make the same album it would be filed under R&B or soul/hip hop.) Henry Butler comes from a different time and place, and his music is R&B in the old sense -- it rocks, it rolls, it struts, it features the piano prominently, and it's very much based in the blues and the Creole musical traditions of his native New Orleans. Despite one or two minor missteps, Homeland is a hoot and a joy all the way through, from the touchingly sentimental "Way We Loved" through the slightly hokey "Hey Little Girl" right up to the sweet ode to Professor Longhair that ends the program. The album's highlight is a fantastic adaptation of the New Orleans classic "Iko Iko," and its nadir is the overlong one-chord workout "Casino." Highly recommended overall.

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