Home Read Albums Of The Week: Steve Cropper | Fire It Up

Albums Of The Week: Steve Cropper | Fire It Up

The Memphis guitar legend plays it one more time on this funky, collaborative outing.


THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “The term guitar hero is bandied about loosely these days. Seems like all you have to do is look good holding the thing and you qualify. But if you ask the actual guitar heroes — like Brian May, Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton — who their guitar heroes are, Steve Cropper is definitely on the short list. If all he had done were the records with Booker T. & the MG’s and Otis Redding, that would be enough, but shortly thereafter he was leaving his fingerprints on records by Wilson Pickett, Sam and Dave, Johnny Taylor, Albert King, The Blues Brothers and virtually anybody worthy who came within earshot of Memphis. He was a Guitarist’s Guitarist, and a Songwriter’s Songwriter.

Fire It Up is Steve Cropper’s first album of new Soul / R&B material in 10 years. The session and soul guitar legend is calling this his first “proper” solo album since 1969. “This album is different from everything out there now,” he said. “I haven’t heard myself this way since the ’60s.” Jon Tiven and Cropper produced the album, which stemmed from sessions with The RascalsFelix Cavaliere. “It’s made from old grooves, because during a lockdown, you work on stuff that’s been in your head for years,” Cropper said.

From the classic R&B of the title track, featuring vocalist Roger C. Reale, to the funk of Bush Hog and the quiet restraint of One Good Turn, the album may have Cropper’s name on it, but it’s still very much a collaborative effort, where solos and prowess are always in service to the larger rhythm. “This isn’t a battle of the bands,” he adds. “It’s better to enhance the other guy, make him shine. I’m a rhythm player. I set the groove. I’m always listening to the singer and the rest of band … When a basketball team wins, it’s not the player who made the last three-pointer who wins, it’s the whole team that got him there.”