Jerry Butler's voice was the perfect pop medium, gracefully soulful and smooth as ice, leading to his signature nickname, "the Ice Man." Simply put, Butler could sing last week's grocery list and make it work. Born in Mississippi, his family was part of the migration north to Chicago, where as a child he began singing in church, which is where he met Curtis Mayfield, and together they joined a vocal group, the Roosters. By 1957 the quintet had changed its name to Jerry Butler & the Impressions
, and a year later had a big hit with a song Butler had penned, "For Your Precious Love." Butler then left for a solo career, which really began to sail when he signed with Chicago's Vee-Jay Records in 1960. He remained with the label until its demise in bankruptcy in 1966, turning out a steady stream of impressive singles, most of which hit the charts, including "He Will Break Your Heart," which hit number one the year he signed with Vee-Jay. This two-disc, 56-track set brings together, for the first time in the digital age, both the A- and B-sides of all of Butler's singles for the label, detailing an impressive pop-soul catalog that also shows Butler's impeccable talent for finding good young songwriters, with early songs from Mayfield, Van McCoy
, Randy Newman
, and others all featured here. Rounding things out on a fine note, several bonus tracks featuring duets with Betty Everett
are also here, making this set a true box of treasures.