Playin' My Thang (Remastered) Steve Cropper

Album info



Label: Geffen

Genre: R&B

Subgenre: Funk

Artist: Steve Cropper

Album including Album cover

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  • 1Give 'Em What They Want04:21
  • 2Let The Good Times Roll04:00
  • 3Playin' My Thang04:47
  • 4Fly03:13
  • 5Sandy Beaches03:24
  • 6With You03:26
  • 7Feet03:00
  • 8Why Do You Say You Love Me04:54
  • 9Ya Da Ya Da03:58
  • Total Runtime35:03

Info for Playin' My Thang (Remastered)

Steve Cropper is best known as session guitarist for Stax Records and part of Booker T. & The MG's. He's played besides people like Otis Redding, Sam & Dave and Wilson Pickett. He also features in both Blues Brothers movies as 'The Colonel'. And he co-wrote "In The Midnight Hour" and "Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay". Whoa!

Having played such an important role as sideman to lots of Southern Soul stars, it's no surprise this solo album isn't gonna blow your speakers. But this second Steve Cropper solo album is an album well worth checking out.

"The man whose reputation is well established as a stellar guitar sideman has a big challenge stepping out front, especially considering the decision to take on lead vocal responsibilities. As a result, Playing My Thang is not so much about Steve Cropper's guitar playing as his singing, the obvious reason the early-'80s release hasn't exactly achieved classic status. Not that he is a bad singer, not by any means. The title track manages to merge a story told by the singing voice with lead guitar playing, along the lines of the classic "Guitar Man" song and others of its ilk. "Give 'Em What They Want" is a surprising, thought-provoking opener, although it also presents the first ample evidence that this is going to be a dull album. The cynicism of the lyrics, as well as a somewhat morose groove, make it seem like a self-confessional opus from a singer/songwriter is underway -- basically the truth, since Cropper wrote or co-wrote many of these titles. In that case, are the musings of a jaded session man really such an attractive basis for lyrical philosophy? Certainly whoever designed the album cover didn't think so -- Cropper's axe is given priority. "Fly" is a bit more of a Stevie Wonder thing; which, along with an aggravated and strange brass arrangement of "Let the Good Times Roll," are examples of material related to, but not exactly in, what is considered to be Cropper's forte. A Delbert McClinton cover, entitled "Sandy Beaches," complete with Jim Horn on flute, brings to mind the Herbie Mann Memphis Underground recordings as well as the prospect that a guitarist could take advantage of such a setting for some picking. Cropper's main business seems to be trying to pull off the vocal, complete with "I'll be loving you, loving you" chorus. Any chord Cropper played on any Booker T. & the MG's album is better than this entire album -- a realization that, although highly complimentery to the genius of Steve Cropper, is of little help when it comes to concieving just how he could have made a better solo album." (Eugene Chadbourne, AMG)

Recorded and mixed at Cherokee Recording Studios, 751 N. Fairfax, Los Angeles, California Mastered at A&M Studios, Hollywood, California Produced by Bruce Robb, Steve Cropper

Digitally remastered

Steve Cropper
There are not enough words to describe the multi-talents of modest and serious Steve Cropper. He was there quite at the beginning of Satellite/Stax and was the protégé of Jim Stewart. He was one of the first to get the keys of the studio and to be allowed to sit at the control board instead of Jim Stewart. Born in Dora, Missouri, in 1941 he came to Memphis at 10. Grown up in Memphis with school fellow Donald Dunn, he was already playing with the Mar-Keys when Last Night was recorded. He did quite everything at Stax from selling records at the Satellite Record Shop, developping his skills about recording techniques, playing the guitar and sometimes piano on most Stax records and composing the music for innumerable hits such as In The Midnight Hour, Knock On Wood, The Dock Of The Bay, Soul Man and so on.

After his departure from Stax in the early 70s, he created various independant studios and production companies. Today, he manages Insomnia Studios in Nashville, is also well known as a part of the Blues Brothers Band and can be seen in the cult film Blues Brothers and its recent sequel.

Born in Dora, Missouri, in 1941, Steve Cropper had a rural white upbringing. He moved to Memphis in 1951 where, exposed to black R&B music, he soon adopted the music of the Memphis area. After years of associating his guitar style with the core black culture of the Stax sound, many are amazed to find that he is caucasian. Of his work in the sixties, Steve says: "If there was anything about the Stax sound it was really music with licks in it. We liked to call them money licks. "

Making something simple sound identifiable on record was one of Cropper's specialities. And it wasn't only the guitar licks. He wrote the Memphis Horns introduction on Wilson Pickett's "In The Midnight Hour" on guitar using his characteristic parallel chord approach. As he himself says, referring to the fretboard markers on the fingerboard of his Telecaster: "Just follow the dots and you can't get into trouble. " When arranged for horns the part is instantly identifiable. When he was sitting with Eddie Floyd, writing "Knock On Wood," Cropper came up with the idea of simply playing the introduction he had written for "In The Midnight Hour" in reverse. He did, it worked, and another million-seller was born.

Steve Cropper executed simple ideas with consummate good taste, originality, and feel. Jimi Hendrix, Syd Barrett and countless other important players have quoted Cropper as a major influence. He can be heard on any good Otis Redding compilation playing classics - co-written with Redding - like " (Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay" or "Fa-fa-fa-fa-fa (Sad Song)." If the term "getting your chops together" was not coined in reference to Steve Cropper then it should have been.

For over four decades now, Steve Cropper has literally defined the art of R&B guitar. Booker T. and the MGs, the Memphis-based band consisting of Cropper, Booker T. Jones on organ, Al Jackson on drums and Donald "Duck" Dunn on bass was the rhythm section for almost every hit to come out of the Memphis Stax/Volt Records era. Sam and Dave, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding and many others had hits that were driven by the heavy groove of this band. Cropper also had his hand in producing and writing many of these great hits such as "Dock of the Bay" which he penned with Otis Redding. I had the pleasure of working with him in 1975 when I was playing lead guitar with John Prine, and he was producing Prine's "Common Sense" album. He was also an important part of Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi's "Blues Brothers" takeoff, and continues to be a driving force in the music scene today, producing and playing with almost every kind of major act conceivable. Cropper's tone has a metallic ferocity, yet his playing is always sparse and pervaded with a feeling of suspense.

Steve Cropper's studio work may be the highest embodiment of play-for-the-song minimalism. This least virtuosic of guitar heroes is almost universally admired for devising the archetypal riffs and pithy fills that helped define soul music. As house guitarist for Memphis's Stax Records, he backed Otis Redding, Sam & Dave and many other soul greats, contributing immortal grooves and hooks to some of the era's best music. As one quarter of Booker T & The MGs, he helped devise some of the finest R&B instrumentals ever (including "Green Onions," the 1962 smash that slammed his career into overdrive). He also produced many important soul sessions and co-wrote such gems as "Knock on Wood," "In the Midnight Hour" and "(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay."

You tend to incorporate single-note lines into double-stop and tritone riffs? It was bestowed upon me. When I started out doing sessions in the early '60s, they couldnt afford another guitar player. So almost every session we did was one guitar, if that. I hear some of the Stax stuff today that doesn't have guitars, and I love it, but I was right there wishing I could play guitar on those cuts rather than producing and doing everything else. Even my own record with the Mar-Keys, "Last Night," didn't have a guitar on it. In those days we only had one keyboard player, so we switched off on piano and organ. I played guitar on those songs onstage, and nobody ever knew the difference-I just doubled the bass line. I developed that style of throwing in a little single-note fill every now and then to weave in and out of the vocal to make it feel more lyrical with the vocal line. But I always jumped right back into the rhythm. I never liked to get away from the rhythm too much. The whole bottom falls out.

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