Steve Cropper is an unlikely guitar hero. He swears he’s just a rhythm player, purely in service to the groove. But oh, what rhythm and oh, what grooves. So, when Cropper releases a new solo album – what he’s calling his first proper solo album since 1969 – it’s time to listen up.
And it’s time well-spent, as Fire It Up is packed with guitar – layers of Cropper, playing rhythm riffs, groovy grooves, and yes, solos. It’s a whole lot of a good thing.
Just as you would hope, the music is a step back in time to Stax days, along with some rocking tunes that might have been more at home with crosstown Memphis rival Sun Records and some funk that sounds very Hi Records. Cropper is aided by drummer Nioshi Jackson, vocalist Roger C. Reale, and Jon Tiven on bass, sax, harmonica, and keys. It’s a tight little group that knows its business.
The title track is bouncing R&B buoyed by Cropper’s six-string riffs. “Far Away” and “She’s So Fine” are sweet soul, while “Bush Hog” rides the funk. All pay homage to the classics – which, by the way, Steve Cropper helped create.
This article originally appeared in VG’s May 2021 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.