Crushed Butler

Uncrushed

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Hindsight is a beautiful and painful commodity, as this compilation should make clear enough. Uncrushed captures three young, hungry Londoners whose raw sound mesmerized their peers -- and blew away the day's biggest names -- yet failed to pry open those corporate portals. Yes, Crushed Butler fell short, because 1969's audiences didn't want anyone writing off their hippie dreams just yet. And as drummer Darryl Read once noted, nobody felt compelled to smash their instruments when the music spoke so ferociously for itself. Read's clattering snare on "It's My Life" is the perfect counterpoint for its up-the-system lyrics ("Workin' like a slave, workin' for you/Doin' somethin' I don't wanna do"). Pop stars or not, don't expect these guys to pump your gas! "My Son's Alive"'s explosive gallop is one of the missing links to thrash today, while "Love Fighter"'s grinding drone shows Crushed Butler realized intensity didn't come from tempo. Jesse Hector's guttural drawl makes the lyrics hard to decipher, but his shuddering guitar provides enough of a reference point. In fact, the band achieved its brightest moments amid trying circumstances -- as a session from winter 1970 proves. "Factory Grime" is the track to beat, banged out in one mind-melting take. However, the band only got to do it after spending time on "Love Is All Around Me," a clich├ęd boogie popper written by the session's producer, Roger Ferris. Still, Read's nagging cowbell and Hector's insistent guitar make an extraordinary moment out of an ordinary song. The band tried again as Tiger in February 1971 with "High School Drop Out," which is another average song livened up by Alan Butler's limber bass work. Shorn of prospects, the band collapsed, but that's hardly an indictment when people are still trying to crack the code three decades later. Don't let the raw mono sound distract you; this six-track EP should restore some long-overdue respect.

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