Jerry Butler & The Impressions – For Your Precious Love

21st May 2021 · 1950s, 1958, Music

A hit from way back in the year I was born, this timeless doo wop ballad features two of the greats of soul music – Curtis Mayfield and Jerry Butler.

Back when they began in the late Fifties, Curtis Mayfield took a back role in The Impressions, playing guitar and singing backing vocals. The lead vocalist was Jerry Butler, who wrote these lyrics when he was only 16.

The pair met in Chicago at the notorious Cabrini-Green slum housing project where Mayfield had grown up and Butler’s family ended up after joining the mass migration north of blacks from the Deep South in the 1940s.

They sang in the same church choir, went on to sing in the same gospel groups, and joined four other Southern transplants in a doo wop sextet called The Roosters.

After signing with Vee-Jay Records they changed their name to Jerry Butler & The Impressions and this was their first hit single. You can detect the gospel influence in the sweet, soulful style of their harmonies, and Butler’s emotive baritone.

But after just one more hit, Come Back My Love, he left to launch a successful solo career and Mayfield, following a brief spell playing guitar with him – and writing a some of his singles – returned to take over as their front man and chief songwriter.

His high tenor and falsetto made them a very different group from the one featuring Butler’s baritone balladeering and Mayfield became the bigger star, at least on this side of the Atlantic.
He also brought the group a political dimension as one of the first to bring urban social commentary into soul music as black consciousness flourished in the early Sixties, as well as leading the move from soul into funk.

Butler became a much-loved solo star in his own right, earning the nickname The Ice Man, and madee 50 albums, spawning dozens of US hits, before going into politics in the Eighties.