Steven Lee Cropper (born October 21, 1941), sometimes known as “The Colonel”, is an American guitarist, songwriter and record producer. He is the guitarist of the Stax Records house band, Booker T. & the M.G.’s, which backed artists such as Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas and Johnnie Taylor. He also acted as the producer of many of these records. He was later a member of the Blues Brothers band. Rolling Stone magazine ranked him 39th on its list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.
Born on a farm in Willow Springs, Missouri, Cropper lived in the nearby towns of Dora and [[West Plains, Missouri|West Plains before moving with his family to Memphis at the age of nine. It was in Memphis where he was exposed black church music, which “blew [him] away”. Cropper acquired his first guitar via mail order at the age of 14.
He admired guitarists including Tal Farlow, Chuck Berry, Jimmy Reed, Chet Atkins, Lowman Pauling of the Five Royales and Billy Butler of the Bill Doggett band. (by wikipedia)
Steve Cropper has said in numerous interviews that his main influence as a guitarist was Lowman Pauling, chief songwriter, arranger, and axeman of North Carolina’s 5 Royales, a ’50s-era group that wedded doo wop, jump blues, gospel, and jazz in an R&B style that scored them numerous hits throughout the 1950s. The 5 Royales also featured lead vocalist Johnny Tanner (and occasionally younger brother Eugene) supported by backing singers Otto Jeffries, Jimmy Moore, and Obadiah Carter. Cropper was approached by producer Jon Tiven (who he’d previously worked with on the first of his two collaborations with Felix Cavaliere) about collaborating on a tribute album to the 5 Royales, and jumped at the chance. Dedicated: A Salute to the 5 Royales, which represents the latest chapter in a late-career resurgence for Cropper, one of the most influential soul guitarists in history, combines the talents of a red hot studio band — Cropper, bassist David Hood, keyboardist Spooner Oldham, percussionist Steve Ferrone, drummer Steve Jordan, and Neal Sugarman and Tiven on horns. In addition, Cropper and Tiven enlisted a stellar group of vocalists to perform 5 Royales standards: Lucinda Williams, Sharon Jones, Bettye LaVette, Delbert McClinton, Willie Jones, B.B. King, Shemekia Copeland, Buddy Miller, Dan Penn, Brian May, Steve Winwood, John Popper, and Dylan LeBlanc, fronting a great cast of backing singers.
Despite the historic material and arrangements, Dedicated is a decidedly contemporary recording in production, saving it from the dubious fate of numerous other tribute albums that seek to re-create the actual vibe of original recordings. It begins with an excellent rendition of “Thirty Second Lover” featuring Winwood, but, fine as it is, it’s a teaser for what’s to come. LaVette and Willie Jones tear up “Don’t Be Ashamed.” On “Dedicated to the One I Love,” Williams literally sends shivers up and down the spine as she uses her gauzy, slow, emotive voice to wrench every ounce of emotion from the verses — with Penn adding another dimension to them on the bridge.
Speaking of Penn, an excellent but reluctant lead singer, his reading of “Someone Made You for Me” is one of the most unexpectedly endearing performances on the set. McClinton’s “Right Around the Corner” puts these rhythm & blues in the heart of honky tonk country. The back-to-back readings of “Messin’ Up” by Jones and “Say It” by LaVette come close to stealing the show — but Williams still holds on with the title track and her searingly naked “When I Get Like This” as the closer. Cropper also takes a couple of economical but stinging instrumental breaks on “Help Me Somebody” and “Think” that reveal the depth of Pauling’s genius as well as his own. Given what a mixed bag tribute albums usually are, Dedicated is not only a surprise for its consistency, but a shining example of what they can — and should — be. (by Thom Jurek)
Steve Cropper (guitar, background vocals on 12.)
Steve Ferrone (drums, percussion)
David Hood (bass)
Steve Jordan (drums)
Spooner Oldham (keyboards)
Neal Sugarman (saxophone)
Jon Tiven (saxophone)
Billy Block (percussion on 05.)
Shemekia Copeland (vocals, guitar on 03.)
Angel Cropper (background vocals on 03., 05., 09.)
Beth Hooker (background vocals on 02., 03., 05., 12.)
Sharon Jones (vocals on 09. + 12.)
Willie Jones (vocals on 02.)
B.B. King (vocals, guitar on 03.)
Bettye LaVette (vocals on 02., 10.
Dylan LeBlanc (vocals on 12., background vocals on 04.)
Brian May (vocals, guitar on 08.)
Delbert McClinton (vocals on 06.)
Buddy Miller (vocals, guitar on 11., background vocals on 12.)
Keb Mo (background vocals on 04., 06., 09. – 11.)
Leroy Parnell (background vocals on 04., 06., 09., 10.)
Dan Penn (vocals on 04., 12., background vocals on 11.
John Popper (vocals on 05.)
Harry Stinson (background vocals on 02., 03., 05., 12.)
Jon Tiven (background vocals on 06., 10. – 12.)
Lucinda Williams (vocals on 04. + 15.)
Steve Winwood (vocals, organ on 01.)
01. Thirty Second Lover (Paul/Pauling) 3.55
02. Don’t Be Ashamed (Pauling) 2.50
03. Baby Don’t Do It (Pauling) 2.51
04. Dedicated To The One I Love (Bass/Pauling) 3.15
05. My Sugar Sugar (Pauling) 3.08
06. Right Around The Corner (McCoy/Singleton) 2.36
07. Help Me Somebody (Instrumental) (Pauling) 3.08
08. I Do (Pauling) 2.48
09. Messin’ Up (Pauling) 3.05
10. Say It (Pauling) 2.25
11. The Slummer The Slum (Carter/Pauling) 3.12
12. Someone Made You For Me (Glover) 3.38
13. Think (Instrumental) (Pauling) 4:02
14. Come On & Save Me (Pauling) 2.58
15. When I Get Like This (Jeffires/LeBow) 2.29