Steve Cropper's Fire It Up is timeless, spine-tingling and funky

Steve Cropper, legendary studio backbone of Stax Records, releases Fire It Up, his "first proper album" since 1967

Steve Cropper: Fire It Up
(Image: © Provogue)

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It’s reassuring to hear Steve Cropper – the legendary studio backbone of Stax Records, co-writer of countless 60s soul classics, the former Mar-Keys and Booker T. & The MG’s member routinely ranked among the most influential guitarists of all time – still in fine fettle as he reaches his eightieth year. 

Cropper’s less-is-more solo mastery takes centre stage only on the insidious instrumental Bush Hog

With the other 10 tracks, featuring Roger C Reale’s gruff blues shout and robust brass section, he’s more content to let his liquid economy embellish, deliver spine-tingling solos and drive the funky soul grooves of She’s So Fine and The Go-Getter Is Gone, deploying Soul Man-style hammer riffing on the title track and evoking his Dock Of The Bay on One Good Turn.

Working with co-producer Jon Tiven, Cropper considers this his first proper solo album since 1967. It’s sufficiently timeless to have been released the following year.

Kris Needs is a British journalist and author, known for writings on music from the 1970s onwards. Previously secretary of the Mott The Hoople fan club, he became editor of ZigZag in 1977 and has written biographies of stars including Primal Scream, Joe Strummer and Keith Richards. He's also written for MOJO, Record Collector, Classic Rock, Prog, Electronic Sound, Vive Le Rock and Shindig!