At the age of 78, when a lot of musicians are looking to put their instruments in the rack, not so Steve Cropper.
Music is his life and there is no stopping him now after over 60 years in the business. Buddy Guy is still as active as ever at 84, is there a hidden Crossroads story with these two?
Steve Cropper is probably not a household name, but in the music business he is revered and respected. He has been known as the Colonel in music circles since the Sixties. Rolling Stone Magazine ranked him 39th in its list of the hundred greatest guitarists of all time.
Working for Stax Records as a guitarist, producer, songwriter and A&R man, he became a founder member of Booker T and the MG’s with Booker T Jones on keyboards, Al Jackson on drums and Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn on bass, the hottest band in the world. They were the resident backing band for Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Carla Thomas, Johnny Taylor and many more. As themselves, Booker T & the MG’s had a smash hit with Green Onions (1962). Steve Cropper also played on and co-wrote (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay with Otis Redding, Sam & Dave’s Soul Man, Knock On Wood by Eddie Floyd, and In The Midnight Hour with Wilson Pickett. Steve Cropper was also the guitarist and musical director for the Blues Brothers Band supporting their actor friends.
Since then he has worked with various Beatles, Tower of Power, Rod Stewart, John Prine, Jose Feliciano, Jeff Beck, and Eric Clapton, amongst others.
So it is possible that you may not have heard of Steve Cropper but you have certainly heard him.
So when he decided to record a bunch of sessions to be released as an album in April 2021 for the first time in a decade, you would be forgiven for expecting a laid back album with a bunch of cover versions.
Not the half of it. There are a bunch of charged up originals played with all the vim and vigor of yore.
As soon as the opening riff of introductory instrumental Bush Hog hits the speakers you know business is being served.
The title track is a new classic with great musicianship all round, pumping rhythm section, brass hitting you in the solar plexus, but above all else, that guitar and what a voice. None of the songs on this album over stay their welcome coming in and smooching you into loving it. As in every fine album, the songs have great variety but stay true to the Steve Cropper trademarks. The guitar sound from his Stratocaster is a remarkable thing. Over sixty years in the music business and still as invigorating as ever.
These songs are just made for the dance floor. After one play you are already singing along to the lyrics and strutting your stuff, air guitar in hand.
I’m Not Havin’ It is Steve Cropper peacocking himself with glorious effect. Far Away would have been a huge hit in the mid-seventies but still holds up well today, getting your body boogieing. Say You Don’t Know Me is driven by Steve Cropper’s famous rhythm guitar work. She’s So Fine is a song that needs no explanation. There is no filler on this album; every song is a gem.
Steve Cropper could easily have called on his superstar friends to give the album a more commercial bent, but that is not the Colonel’s way. Leading from the front as usual.
It’s almost a sad feeling when the album comes to an end. Fortunately, all you have to do is hit the repeat button on your player.