Steve Cropper: Fire It Up Review

Legendary session man Steve Cropper is probably soul music’s greatest guitarist. A vital component of Stax Records house band, Booker T. & the M.G.’s, Cropper, during the ’60s, played and/or co-wrote several era-defining singles, including the mega-hits “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay” by Ottis Redding and “Soul Man” by Sam & Dave. During this period, he also backed Albert King in his classic album, Born Under A Bad Sign. In the subsequent years, he kept delivering the goods as a sideman, playing with John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and other countless great artists. However, a musician of such caliber can also hold his own on a solo record without breaking much of a sweat, and that’s exactly what he achieves with his brand-new release, Fire It Up.

Cropper’s first solo album since 1969 (according to his own words), This new record rescues his classic sound without sounding outdated. It also pulsates with energy and passion, as indicated by its title, providing a very enjoyable experience of fierce blues, soul, and rock. Accompanied by the talented vocalist Roger C. Reale and by a tight backing band that includes a tremendous horn section, the renowned guitarist honors his legacy perfectly, supplying the songs with funky rhythm guitar playing and tasty solos and licks. Don’t expect extended instrumental sections, though. Cropper is known for an economic style, and I, particularly, find it extremely enjoyable. There isn’t a need for countless notes when you know exactly where and when to place the fewer ones you use. Cropper is a succinct master, and this album, just like his overall work, is focused less on his guitar and more on the music as a whole.

The album’s standout tracks include the fiery and energetic title track; the soulful and laidback “One Good Turn”; the groovy thrill ride “Out Of Love”; the catchy and somewhat dancing “She’s Fine” and one of the best songs I’ve heard this year: “Heartbreak Street”, a brilliant soul-blues musical triumph. These are incredible tracks to be listened on their own, of course, but I recommend the album to be appreciated in its entirety. The rest of the songs if not as great as the aforementioned ones, still keep up with their high standards. Cropper & and Co. will most likely lift your mood and have you hooked up from start to finish.

Fire It Up is one of the best records I’ve heard recently and one of the best albums released this year. I recommend it to anyone interested in having a great time listening to amazing music. Grab yourself a copy and get fired up.

The Review: 9/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Fire It Up
– One Good Turn
– Out Of Love
– She’s Fine
– Heartbreak Street

The Big Hit

– Heartbreak Street

Buy the album: Amazon | Amazon UK

Fidel Beserra

Fidel Beserra is a professional translator and occasional writer. As one would expect, he's also an enthusiastic lover of everything music-related.

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