It’s hard to have surprises when you’re seven decades into a career of soul, blues and rock and roll stardom, but consider this: in a way, Steve Cropper’s new solo album, ‘Fire It Up’, is the first album since 1967 to have Steve Cropper’s solo name on it. Steve Cropper is that
guitar on “Green Onions,” the first of many hits with Booker T & the MGs. The MGs became the house band at Stax Records and Cropper one of Stax’s main producers, songwriters and guitarists. “Midnight Hour” by Wilson Pickett, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding, “Knock on Wood” by Eddie Floyd, “Soul Man” and “Hold On I’m Coming”—you can’t discuss soul music without Steve Cropper. A founding member of the Blues Brothers, Steve reintroduced classic soul to unsuspecting audiences—stage, screen, and recordings. Rolling Stone magazine ranked him in the top 40 of its 100 all time greatest guitarists.
Set for release on April 23rd, 2021, ‘Fire It Up’ is a return to form for Steve Cropper. “This album is different from everything out there now,” he says. “It’s made from old grooves, because during a lockdown, I worked on stuff that’s been in my head for years.” Cropper doesn’t keep a file of song lyrics and doesn’t file guitar riff ideas to find a home later, “but all that stuff is floating in my head all the time,” he says. “I can reach in there and get it out.” ‘Fire It Up’ has its roots in sessions with Felix Cavaliere. They did some basic tracks that wound up not fitting on their two releases, but captured good grooves, which were salvaged by album producer Jon Tiven. “Jon would pull out those tracks and he’d call me and say, ‘You know, this stuff is pretty good,” adds Cropper. “From there, Jon and I reworked the tracks and came up with some song ideas. I try to come up with a title that tells a story even if you don’t read the lyrics. Lots of people write poetry about their own stories. For me, songwriting isn’t about the writer as much as the audience, and the artist who will deliver it.”
Steve Cropper is both guitarist and producer on this album. But even after all these years he remains modest about his musical abilities. Cropper’s accomplishments make him careful and selective about what he’ll put his name on, so you won’t be surprised if this new album echoes sounds of yesterday combined with eternally infectious grooves. Steve Cropper’s ‘Fire It Up’, an instant classic.