Jon Butcher Axis: Live at the Casbah

Jon Butcher / Jon Butcher Axis

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Jon Butcher Axis: Live at the Casbah Review

by Joe Viglione

Jon Butcher's first DVD is a rare concert videotaped by Bob Boyd's crew at The Casbah in Manchester, New Hampshire. Boyd owned a professional video company which got permission to tape New England bands like the Neighborhoods, the Stompers, the New Models, and many others in the 1980s. This exquisite 75-minute-plus concert is prime Butcher, displaying the man's power, stage presence, and keen sense of rock & roll. More revealing than the CD Ocean in Motion: Live in Boston 1984, which Atom Records pressed prior to this release, you get to see Jon Butcher's tight band in a fine audiovisual performance -- Foreigner/Aerosmith keyboard/saxophone player Thom Gimbel (also the producer of whiz kid Adrian Perry, Joe Perry's son); ex-New Man/RTZ bassist extraordinaire Tim Archibald, and longtime Butcher drummer Derek Blevins. Jon says "Merry Christmas. . .see you in '85" at the end of "When You Were Mine" (not the Didi Stewart / Girls Night Out tune from the exact same year), giving the time frame for when this important piece of New England music history happened. It's one of three unreleased tunes that offers longtime fans something extra. There aren't many frills on the DVD, but the audio is excellent, and the camerawork pretty steady -- choppy at some points -- but that just adds to the rock & roll vibe. Nice to watch next to Blue Wild Angel: Jimi Hendrix Live at the Isle of Wight, not because of the eternal comparisons between Jon Butcher and his mentor, but because of the stark differences seen between the two. Jon Butcher Axis was a band with choreography and a resume for each member that made them more than sidemen. This DVD captures the key compositions -- "New Man" (the name of one of Tim Archibald's groups), "Life Takes a Life," "It's Only Words," "Ocean in Motion," and more -- with a dynamic show that eclipses some of the singer's studio recordings. Grade A.

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