ALBUM REVIEW: STEVE CROPPER 'FIRE IT UP'

The Colonel is back with his first 'proper' solo album for over fifty years!



Along with Stax house band, Booker T and the MG's, Steve Cropper's guitar sound not only helped define an entire genre of soul music, but the influential reach of his grooves would spread through modern music for the next half a century.


Cropper's (known as The Colonel) latest solo album, which he calls his first proper solo album since 1969, is firmly rooted in his glory days at Stax, but just like most of the music from that era, it's also timeless. Although Cropper spins out some tasty solos on cracks like 'Far Away', he's always been a groove man, a rhythm player, with a focus on less is more, rather than a lead guitarist. Any solo that lets rip here would feel firmly out of place. Can you imagine any of the songs he played on and co-wrote like '(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay' or 'In the Midnight Hour' having show-offy, electric solos? No, neither can we. As a result, the album is filled with bold brass sections and funky percussion that propel tracks like 'Two Wrongs' and 'She's So Fine', while 'Bush Hog' and its various reprises wouldn't be out of place on K. Billy's Super Sounds of the 70's.


Roger C Reale's funky blues vocals are strong but don't detract from the songs themselves. Sure, you could have had Tom Jones or Rod Stewart take on any one of these tracks; but this is an album that works well because of a lack of ego. Just like his work with the MG's, Cropper's 'Light it Up' is collaborative and tight, with every musician there to enhance the other, purely for the benefit of the song.


The Colonel may view 'Light it Up' as his first real solo album for decades, and rightly so, it's the kind of album that was worth waiting fifty years for!






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