Steve Cropper
" A Salute to the 5 Royales "
429 Records

Rating 7

This One is Dedicated to the One He Loves The latest recording from Booker T. & the MGs' guitarist Steve Cropper is an all-star tribute to 1950_s rhythm and blues greats the 5 Royales. whose guitarist Lowman Pauling had a strong influence on Cropper.

Producer Jon Tiven reunites with Cropper, and this is a far better recording than their collaborative offering with Felix Cavaliere, Move It Up a Notch. Guesting on Dedicated are a wide range of stars, including B.B. King, Steve Winwood, Delbert McClinton, Sharon Jones, Shemekia Copeland, Dan Penn, Lucinda Williams, Bettye LaVette, John Popper, Buddy Miller, Brian May, and others. All in all there are thirteen tunes included, two of which are listed as Steve Cropper instrumentals.

Winwood kicks off the album with "Thirty Second Lover," which grooves nicely. Winwood sounds great and is well cast. Cropper wails with superb tone, making this tune one of the better non-instrumental songs on the CD. Lucinda Williams guests on two tracks: "When I Get Like This" that closes this album and "Dedicated to the One I Love," where Dan Penn's strong with his distinctive choruses. The latter works quite well and is appropriately more reminiscent to the 5 Royales original than the smash hit by the Shirelles. By the way, the background vocalists include Keb' Mo', Leroy Parnell, and Dylan Leblanc - whew! Delbert McClinton's voice is right on with "Right Around the Corner," and he sails mightily. There's also a nice "Yakety-Yak"-like sax solo by Neal Sugarman. Buddy Miller fits like a glove on "The Slummer the Slum." His vocal renderings are perfect for this cool tune, plus Miller also smartly trades guitar solos with Cropper.

The two tracks I enjoyed most are the Cropper instrumentals. "Help Me Somebody" is very bluesy and Cropper nails it to near perfection. There's also some nice vamp changes that flow gorgeously on this catchy tune. The other instrumental, "Think," is rollicking, but I could have done without Tiven's lame sax solo. No matter, this is a fun tune where Cropper seems to be having the time of his life.

Also included is a very informative sixteen-page booklet that talks about the stellar veteran session players David Hood, Steve Jordan, Steve Ferrone, and Spooner Oldham who all add to the solid groove that makes this record at times sparkle. In summary: not all of the pairings work well, but Dedicated is unique as tribute albums go, as when it works it does so because it's genuine and honest. Hopefully this disc will rekindle renewed interest of the 5 Royales whose accomplishments have been far too long forgotten. Kudos to Cropper and Tiven for drawing more attention to Cropper's (and Duck Dunn's) legendary heroes, the 5 Royales!

Bob Putignano a senior contributing editor at BluesWax. He is also the heart of Sounds of Blues at Bob maybe contacted at:

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