The Ice Man Cometh, Jerry Butler's most successful LP, was the first full-album work from the production team Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff. It marks an excellent collaboration, the first time R&B production techniques reached a level of maturity and elegance capable of fully complementing one of the smoothest vocalists in soul history. The Top Ten singles "Hey, Western Union Man" and "Only the Strong Survive" weren't just popular radio hits, but great performances displaying how far the R&B/soul crowd had progressed from the novelty-laden '50s. Thanks to Butler and Gamble/Huff, the sound proved incredibly influential, both in the short term (Elvis Presley was definitely listening and cut a very similar "Only the Strong Survive" one year later) and the long term (Gamble and Huff's Philly Intl. label ruled the mid-'70s R&B world with the same sound). Here's where it coalesced.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by John Bush