Fire It Up
Provogue/Mascot Label Group
Stax Records was one of the most revered labels of the 60s and 70s – at least where gritty, funky soul music is concerned. Steve Cropper was one of its leading architects; originally guitarist with the groovy Booker T & The MGs, where he refined his classy, concise, tightly-controlled guitar playing, he became a session guitarist par excellence, a producer and a songwriter, not just for Otis Redding but also for many others on the label. His talents were later utilized by a couple of ex-Beatles, and The Blues Brothers, among others. He did record sporadically, but he regards Fire It Up as his first solo album since 1969.
I’m not suggesting that this is worth a wait of more than five decades, but there’s plenty of fine R’n’B and soul music to enjoy. Don’t expect innovation – come on! – but do look for new recordings with a time-honored approach. Roger C. Reale wrote many of the lyrics and handles the vocals, Cropper adds his unique, groove-based sound, and producer Jon Tiven fleshes things out on a variety of instruments. They work well together, as do guest musicians like Felix Cavaliere and drummer Simon Kirke of early 70s UK blues-rockers Free. Even the title of the album’s sole instrumental, the down-home styled R’n’B of “Bush Hog”, recalls those classic sixties 45s.
Yep, Steve Cropper’s still got it, he’s still doing it. Just dig it!
SPILL ALBUM REVIEW: STEVE CROPPER – FIRE IT UP