It was in 1958 that Jerry Butler first recorded the smooth ballad "For Your Precious Love." Saturday night at Constitution Hall, it was a highlight of a set that mixed oldies with more contemporary songs like his recent hits "I Wanna Do It to You" and "Nothing Says I Love You Like I Love You."
Butler's career has had its ups and downs but to call his most recent phase a comeback denies the consistency of his technique. It's that which has fallen in and out of favor and perhaps his evocative crooning -- few singers in the soul idiom do it better -- provides a subtlety lacking in the wake of disco's popularity.
Subtlety, indeed, was lacking in the opening set of Washington's own Peaches and Herb. Building slowly into a hard-core singing and dancing routine, the duo benefited from its two recognizable hits "Reunited" and the currently hot "Shake Your Groove Thing." The latter song, accelerated, and tore up the rather insipid recorded version. On it, and on a curiously non-erotic rehash of Rod Stewart's disco hit "Do You Think I'm Sexy?", Peaches and Herb delivered more than the staid hall might have wished for. And to think Herbie used to be a D.C. policeman!