Primitive Origins: Crushed Butler’s ‘Uncrushed’

Primitive Origins is a column where we’ll look back at proto-metal and early metal that deserves a bit of your battered eardrum’s attention. We’re keeping it loose and easy here: there’s no strict guidelines other than it’s gotta be old, it helps if it’s obscure, and it’s gotta rock out surprisingly hard for its context. Pscyh-ed out proto-metal from the late ’60s? Of course. Early attempts at doom metal from the ’70s? Hell yeah. Underground Soviet metal from the early ’80s? Sure. Bring it on. Bring it all on.

Uncrushed is a short and sweet collection of tunes that serves as the main recorded documentation of British punk/proto-metal band Crushed Butler, a definitely forgotten trio that never recorded a proper record. What we’re left with is this, a seven-song collection that features two versions of one (not good) song, the band basically leaving us with an EP’s worth of songs that are decidedly more proto-punk than proto-metal, but still with enough crashing and bashing to investigate here. The band existed from 1969 to 1971, a brief blip during an important time, and haven’t left us with much. Let’s dive in to see if it’s worth digging up.

Things start off promising, with “It’s My Life” being rockin’ and rowdy enough, although the guitar work presents itself as early rock and roll more than anything heavier, despite the spirit and energy being pretty solid early Detroit punk. Brings to mind fellow Primitive Origins inductees Gedo and their rockin’ tune “Scent,” which is a very good reference point to have, and to start a record with. I’m listening.

“Factory Grime” just kinda promises Sabbath with its title, and, sure, the riffs here aren’t too far off from early sludge heaviness, but the song itself leans more punk than metal, even if those are basically early stoner riffs to die for, and the high-strung go-go-go drum performance is fantastic. I can get behind this one pretty hard, the riffs alone being reason to check in at least momentarily.

“Love Is All Around Me” is a bit more restrained and neutered than the first two tracks, this one definitely a pitch for success with that cloying chorus. It’s fun to listen to the maniac drummer try to hold back, but that’s about it. Apparently, this is the song the label was excited about, compared to what the band was pumped on: the much heavier, and better, “Factory Grime.”

“My Son’s Alive” brings back the fire with a memorable stomping guitar line and some unrestrained vocals. It’s all well and good, kinda forgettable but also not without some great guitar licks in there. Not the best of the bunch, but certainly not the worst, this one bops along pleasantly enough when it’s spinning, the crashing, raw production actually working just fine, thank you very much, and some of those near-growling vocals are pretty proto-metal.

“Love Fighter” is awesome, a dirge that goes deep into the sounds of decades past while also foreshadowing some extreme doom and sludge sounds. Not for the faint of heart as the ’70s rolled around, no doubt. Love that opening dirge of a riff, and the band just hammers things hard throughout this one, creating the sort of sound that would have Rise Above Records staffers drooling at the doomy water cooler. This song and the first two on this release are the trio of tunes that Decibel readers would be most interested in.

“High School Dropout” is atrocious, a sloppy drunk-uncle take on old-time rock and roll, like when The Replacements get loaded and we have to sit through it. Even more unfortunately, we get two versions of it here, ending off this release with a pretty ugly whimper.

There’s a reason this band is forgotten to time, and it’s not bad luck. It’s that only about half of these seven songs are noteworthy. Heck, you’re in lockdown and have nothing else to do with your time, might as well check it out for yourself and see if this one crushes you or not. It’s probably not going to change your life, but it’s a cool little document of a band that rocked pretty hard for their time, laid down a few minutes of heavier-than-most proto-doom in one song, and rocked pretty hard in two, maybe two and a half, others.

Crushed Butler’s Uncrushed – The Decibel breakdown:

Do I need to be stoned to listen to this?: No.

Heaviness factor: Not incredibly heavy but enough frantic proto-punk energy to appease the longhairs.

Obscura Triviuma: Changed their name to Tiger after 1971, but you haven’t heard of them either. Drummer Darryl Read recorded with Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek, the results of which are documented on the 1999 Freshly Dug release.

Other albums: This is all she wrote. There’s an “It’s My Life” 7” but both songs are here, and Uncrushed has seen various issues.

Related bands: The Hammersmith Gorillas, Aardvark, Freddy Robinson.

Alright, fine, if you must: A couple beers is all you need.