Jerry Butler – 1968 – The Ice Man Cometh

Review by Soulmakossa

Rip, posting & additional info’s by Nikos

A trailblazing album in more ways than one. It was the first full-length LP produced by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, whose Philadelphia International Records dominated Black music for much of the ’70s. And it was the first time that R&B production techniques reached a level of refinement and sophistication capable of augmenting one of soul music’s all-time silkiest voices. 

This was Jerry “The Ice Man” Butler’s most commercially and artistically successful work, reaching #2 on the Soul Album chart and #29 pop. It produced the hit singles, “Never Give You Up“, “Hey, Western Union Man“, “Lost“, “Only the Srong Survive” and “Are You Happy?” These are not just radio-friendly songs but first-rate productions and performances that could only have come out of Philadelphia. 

“The Ice Man Cometh” also features some excellent album tracks, most notably “I Stop By Heaven.” To the best of my knowledge, this sublime ballad has never turned up on any prominent Jerry Butler anthology. This alone makes the album worth owning, but there’s also “Can’t Forget About You Baby,” “How Can I Get in Touch With You,” “Just Because I Really Love You,” “(Strange) I Still Love You,” and “Go Away, Find Yourself.” Nothing on this 11-track set is short of outstanding. 

When Elvis recorded “Suspicious Minds,” I’ll bet he was emulating Jerry Butler.

Hey Western Union Man 2:37
Can’t Forget About You, Baby  2:36
Only the Strong Survive 2:35
How Can I Get in Touch With You 2:26
Just Because I Really Love You 2:37
Lost 2:35
Never Give You Up 2:56
Are You Happy 2:40
(Strange) I Still Love You 2:50
Go Away – Find Yourself 2:52
I Stop by Heaven 3:20

Although mostly recorded in Philadelphia, this album by soul troubadour Jerry Butler is in the Chicago Soul vein all the way; it’s too hard and gritty to be called ‘Philly’ – which wouldn’t surface as a genre until the early ’70s – despite the beautiful arrangements and sometimes huge orchestration.

Teaming up with future hitmakers Gamble and Huff, Butler cut his finest LP in 1968 with ‘The Iceman Cometh’. Veering between uptempo soul nuggets and truly magnificent, haunting ballads, many a contemporary R&B artist found inspiration in it and plenty of its tunes were covered well into the ’70s.

One of Butler’s best loved cuts, the bouncy, mid-tempo romper “Hey Western Union Man” became nothing short of a standard and the same can be said for the gently cruising gospelfide rockin’ soul beater “Only the Strong Survive“, one of the centrepieces on Elvis Presley’s comeback album ‘From Elvis In Memphis’.

Speaking of Memphis, the horn heavy “Can’t Forget About You, Baby” smacks of that big brassy Stax sound. A ferocious floorshaker, drenched in the sweet, purring vibe of the Hammond organ and embellished with the right amount of strings. Butler’s pleading, warm voice is at its best here, especially on the chorus. Decidedly more Windy City is the breezy, mellow “How Can I Get in Touch With You“, with its warm jazzy guitar, vibes and swirling violins.

And then there’s that deliciously groovy, laidback ballad “Just Because I Really Love You“, where the horns stretch out in suspense and the piano sounds dark and ominous. That same spooky atmosphere hangs around the brassy intro to “Lost“, a shufflin’, brooding piece sporting a crashing back beat, which works its way up to an anthemic, jubilant chorus.

Another soon-to-become evergreen appears in the guise of the slow burning “Never Give You Up“, a brilliant pop-soul confection covered by everyone from The Jacksons to Isaac Hayes. Equally snappy is the soft, despondent lament “Are You Happy”, with more subtle orchestration and another heart wrenching vocal.

Up next are two superb, dark, intensely sad ballads: the ghostly “(Strange) I Still Love You“, with its ethereal backing vocals, churchy organ and weeping strings, and the truly goosebump inducing “Go Away – Find Yourself“, an unbelievably touching, sweet rendering, majestically orchestrated.

Butler ends this magnificent longplayer on a more upbeat note, as he swoons, croons and wails his way through the country soul gem “I Stop By Heaven“.

A masterpiece.

Buy the AlbumJerry Butler – 1968 – The Ice Man Cometh


Conversation for album: Jerry Butler – 1968 – The Ice Man Cometh

  • zobba
    Posted at 14:20h, 18 March 2012 Reply


  • Grumpy
    Posted at 11:03h, 19 March 2012 Reply

    First track sounds great already, can’t wait for the rest.

  • Carlos Rodrigo
    Posted at 13:55h, 19 March 2012 Reply

    first time here, just wanted to say thanks for the great blog and sharing some amazing stuff!

  • rich
    Posted at 20:57h, 19 March 2012 Reply

    great album thanx nikos

  • SM
    Posted at 13:41h, 20 March 2012 Reply


  • Brotherpete
    Posted at 15:11h, 20 March 2012 Reply

    thank you very much dear folks!

  • Frederic
    Posted at 10:26h, 21 March 2012 Reply

    What a terrific album. A favorite LP of mine.

  • Jake
    Posted at 11:47h, 21 March 2012 Reply

    Everyone needs to give it a spin! Excellent!

  • Frankie Teardrop
    Posted at 16:05h, 21 March 2012 Reply

    Any relation to Billy Butler? No? Either way, great album and thanks for the upload! You guys are the greatest!

  • Nikos
    Posted at 20:25h, 21 March 2012 Reply

    Billy Butler is Jerry Butler’s younger brother. He formed the vocal group The Enchanters while at high school. He first recorded for Okeh Records in 1963, and was produced initially by Curtis Mayfield and later by Carl Davis.

  • Gene
    Posted at 11:00h, 22 March 2012 Reply

    NOBODY sings this like Jerry Butler. Goosebumps from start to finish! Thanks for the post.

  • Terry
    Posted at 11:04h, 22 March 2012 Reply

    The Ice Man…Pure Soul.

  • Alexandros
    Posted at 13:00h, 22 March 2012 Reply

    So awesome and great quality sound here!
    Nice post,, very well done!!

    Posted at 21:27h, 22 March 2012 Reply

    Thank very much again………
    Haven t been around a while, but your new shares are paradise FOR THE SOUL.

  • Maria
    Posted at 10:00h, 23 March 2012 Reply

    One of thae best. I grew up listening to this music.

  • Soul is the Music
    Posted at 10:33h, 23 March 2012 Reply

    Butler was dubbed the “Iceman” by WDAS Philadelphia disc jockey, Georgie Woods, while performing in a Philadelphia theatre. The Ice Man Cometh garnered Butler three Grammy nominations.

  • Sidney
    Posted at 00:24h, 24 March 2012 Reply

    An important piece of Soul Music.

  • Steve
    Posted at 10:39h, 24 March 2012 Reply

    Pure and Beautiful ! Jerry has such a rich voice !! He’s one of my new favorites !! Thanks for Posting !!

  • Name
    Posted at 22:16h, 24 March 2012 Reply

    A bright shining spot, another gem on a record. Listen up!

  • bowlisha1
    Posted at 02:54h, 25 March 2012 Reply

    It’s 1968 in Chicago Illinois. It’s the first day of my second year of high school. The juke box at the local hamburger joint is pumpin that new Jerry B song! “Hey Western Union Man..Send a Telemgram to my Baby”. Girl! I gotta get the cut! My friend says oh no don’t get the 45 you gotta babysit enough to get the album! I got it and I won’t even take it out the house cause somebody might steal it! She was right. She took it to a party with her a few weeks later and has not seen it since. Well, I begged and babysat till I got the money for this album and I still won’t take mine out the house. 🙂
    Thanks for posting my favorite Jerry Butler album.

  • B.G.
    Posted at 04:30h, 25 March 2012 Reply

    Thank you for this great blog! It´s really, really good!

  • Strange Visitor
    Posted at 17:20h, 25 March 2012 Reply

    I forgot this even existed, thank you.

  • Alvarez
    Posted at 21:25h, 25 March 2012 Reply

    A classic. I admire him since he was the original lead singer of the Impressions.

  • Bel
    Posted at 12:06h, 28 March 2012 Reply

    Superb soul. A must have.

  • Rob
    Posted at 08:58h, 29 March 2012 Reply

    Every time I hear this LP I melt he does such a fantastic amazing job on this.

  • Doc
    Posted at 09:02h, 30 March 2012 Reply

    Amazing site. Bless you.

  • SP
    Posted at 09:44h, 30 March 2012 Reply

    great upload and a great site…thank you

  • 4KixAfter6
    Posted at 20:02h, 13 April 2013 Reply

    WOW! Thank you! Great site!

  • thegroove
    Posted at 11:54h, 27 November 2013 Reply

    Nice blend of grit and honey on this record. Super! Thanks Soulmakossa and Nikos.

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