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Guitarist, singer & songwriter JON BUTCHER born in Alaska, but he started making some noise in the Boston area at the beginning of the eighties. His six-string style was often compared to Jimi Hendrix, not only for his playing, but also for being a young afro-american musician naming his group Axis, a reference to a Hendrix album title.
However, at the middle of the decade Butcher was signed by Capitol and he and the label decided to change the musical approach to the polished Melodic Rock so in vogue in the US.
By the time of this "Pictures From The Front" - Butcher's fifth album and the third for Capitol - there was not traces of Hendrix, not even on the moniker, as it was released under the 'Jon Butcher' name.
Although not 'strictly' Melodic Rock (as it fuses some bluesy overtones) "Pictures From The Front" is a rock album with a strong AOR feel as well mainly due to the glossy production courtesy of the team Spencer Proffer (Cheap Trick, Heart, Eddie Money) and Glenn Ballard (Jack Wagner, Aerosmith, Toto) who also arranged the whole thing and co-wrote some songs.
The new Jon Butcher band for this album - and successful tours to come - included talented bassist Jaimie Carter, solid drummer Ronnie Lee Sage and complete musician Thom Gimbel (later in Foreigner) who provides a solid foundation of keyboards and rhythm guitars.
Butcher sings with emotion and style (sometimes remembering Robin Trower) but what shines on this record is his terrific, tasteful guitar playing sporting a monster typical '80s tone and a lot of high gain in his set-up sound.
All songs are good, being my favorites the urgent, Foreigner-like "Might As Well Be Free" driven by sharp riffs, a thunderous rhythm section and crowned by a crazy solo, and the anthemic "Live Or Die", recalling Kane Roberts solo albums.
Out of print and not so-easy-to-find at good quality out there, this is a "Pictures From The Front" rip taken from my own collection.
01 - I'm Only Dreaming
02 - Might As Well Be Free
03 - Live Or Die
04 - 99 (May Be All You Need)
05 - Beating Drum
06 - The Mission
07 - Send Me Somebody
08 - Division Street
09 - Come And Get It
10 - Waiting For A Miracle
Guitar, Lead & Backing Vocals – Jon Butcher
Keyboards, Guitar & Backing Vocals – Thom Gimbel
Bass – Jamie Carter, Jamie Hunting
Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals – Ronnie Lee Sage
Additional Keyboards – Glen Ballard
Backing Vocals – Jamie Carter, Timothy B. Schmit
JON BUTCHER Pictures From The Front