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Articles Home » 1983 Articles » Butcher, Jon (Axis) - 1983 Jon Butcher Axis
Butcher, Jon (Axis) - 1983 Jon Butcher Axis

ARTIST: Butcher, Jon (Axis)
ALBUM: Jon Butcher Axis
LABEL: Polydor
SERIAL: 810 059-1
YEAR: 1983
CD REISSUE: 2018, Escape Music, ESM 318


LINEUP: Jon Butcher - lead vocals, guitars * Chris Martin - bass * Derek Blevins - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Life Takes A Life * 02 It's Only Words * 03 Ocean In Motion * 04 Can't Be The Only Fool * 05 Sentinel * 06 New Man * 07 Fairlight * 08 Send One Care Of * 09 Walk Like This * 10 We Will Be As One


He's a bit of a local legend in his hometown of Boston, MA, though probably flew under the radar back in the early 80's when he first appeared in the mainstream. Primarily a blues-rock guitarist with an unavoidable image comparison to Jimi Hendrix (namely, the power-trio and Axis name), Jon Butcher could certainly play, and his three albums between 1983 and 1985 are underrated slices of radio oriented rock perfect for that early 80's era. Butcher's first LP 'Jon Butcher Axis' was an inspired release by Polydor Records in 1983, even if the rest of the world outside of the North Eastern Seaboard of the US hadn't heard of it. For mine, I'm thinking a little bit of Hughes/Thrall in the mix, possibly some Novo Combo and Channel when the cylinders aren't completely firing, but it all makes for a compelling listen.

The Songs
There's no real trace of Jon's blues guitar prowess, the trio delivering what I would call radio friendly rockers that still sound great in the current day. From the lead-off 'Life Takes A Life' and second up 'It's Only Words', the Axis are on their A game, and things are moving well. 'Ocean In Motion' grooves along nicely too, and here you can pick some styles that wouldn't sound out of place on that first 'Hughes/Thrall' album from the prior year. 'Can't Be The Only Fool' is the first change-up, lighter in delivery and melodic as ever. 'Sentinel' is the album's instrumental, mostly hard rock with a slightly spacey feel, while 'New Man' is another change-up moment, with a dare-I-say-it, radio oriented power-pop style. Next up is 'Fairlight'. I don't think this is a tribute to the rather expensive synthesizer system of the day, the track engaging in more light-hearted fare with a cross-section of keyboards and hi-tech percussive elements. Jon introduces some acoustic guitar for 'Send One Care Of', a track which works well, and gradually phases in electric guitar. 'Walk Like This' is a typical guitar rocker of that 1981-1983 era, for which you could compare to many contemporaries from this timeframe. The finale 'We Will Be As One' is an acoustic/electric hybrid, and finishes more on a mellow note rather than all guns blazing.

In Summary
The trio of Butcher, Martin and Blevins flew over to Dave Edmunds Rockfield Studios in Wales to record part of this debut album with producer Pat Moran (Airwaves, Robert Plant, Lou Gramm, John Miles Band plus many more). The other half was recorded at the Electric Ladyland Studios in New York. The end result was a rather slinky cool set of tunes, as you can probably tell by my review. The strange thing about the three Axis LP's is that none of them have been officially released on CD as yet. When Jon dropped the Axis name, and started releasing albums from about 1986 onward, nearly all of these came out on CD. I'll be following up with reviews of 1984's 'Stare At The Sun' and 1985's 'Along The Axis' in the next wee while. Perhaps it's also time to have a chat to the team at Rock Candy?

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#1 | rkbluez on October 31 2016 10:15:22
Would be nice to see the early Jon Butcher Axis albums released on CD by Rock Candy especially the first 2.

'Along The Axis' has been released on CD

I have the ATM (German) version and it sounds really good for how long ago it was issued.

Even better I'd love some label to dig up some of the old unreleased Johanna Wild stuff he did with Jeff Linscot on lead guitar before he switched to the Axis...they were awesome heavy rockers in the Thin Lizzy, YandT...UFO mold and kicked ass live.
#2 | reyno-roxx on October 31 2016 22:05:37
Would also love to see this on CD.
#3 | Nick C on November 01 2016 05:45:27
Yeah, I have Along the Axis on Beartracks, plus the other albums on CD but had to rip my vinyl to CDr for the first couple so a proper CD release would be nice, especially considering their quality. Only really got into JB in the last year or so ago but really enjoy his stuff.
#4 | bpdp3 on November 06 2016 22:05:29
Hmmm...I swear within a day of you posting this review I came across all 3 releases in the dollar bin at the local used vinyl shop! ESP? Anyway, I'd say I got my money's worth. Not sure why I'd held off in the past; I think because I (incorrectly) assumed it would be a Hendrix retread for the reasons you mention.
#5 | gdazegod on November 06 2016 23:41:10
Good score bpdp3. Thumbs Up
#6 | Carl Noonan on November 07 2016 18:28:09
In the mid 80's when cd's were first becoming available a lot of major label stuff came out on vinyl first and the cd's would follow sometimes a month to 6 weeks after the vinyl release. Ratt's Invasion album being an example. Whether this some sort of marketing issue to see if there was a demand for something on cd I don't know. The 1st 2 lp's were released prior to most things getting cd issues and the 3rd was pretty much just at the start of cd's becoming more widely avaialable. My guess is it didn't feature high enough on the labels schedule for a cd release at the time.
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