Jerry "Iceman" Butler | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Jerry "Iceman" Butler 

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There's fire beneath the ice: Jerry Butler's delivery caresses your ear like a lover's wine-chilled breath--those shivers you feel are goose bumps. Butler, best known for his vocals on the Impressions' 1958 classic "For Your Precious Love," played a major role in forging the subtle Chicago soul sound that emerged in the early and mid-60s as a counterpart to the sweatier cadences of southern R & B. Ballads like "Make It Easy on Yourself," "I Stand Accused," and the topical "I Don't Want to Hear Anymore" are his stock in trade, but he's also capable of burners like the soulfully rocking "I Can't Stand It." Even his excursions into bathos--"Moon River," "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face"--are testimonials to his commitment and his art: in his hands they attain a sense of urgency that their original singers never came close to finding. Butler's performances are gatherings of the faithful: he occasionally seems, to use music writer Peter Guralnick's wonderful image, like a specimen preserved in ice. But the emotional commitment to beauty and truth--in that order--that made him one of Chicago's most successful and stylish soul vocalists is still there and it erupts in the most unexpected places, at the most unexpected times. Friday and Saturday, 8 PM, and Sunday, 3 and 7 PM, E.T.A. Theatre Square, 7558 S. South Chicago; 752-3955.

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