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Nudge It Up A Notch CD (2008)

Artist: Steve Cropper

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Blue-eyed and Memphis soul summit pays big dividen

by on 7/30/2008

On paper it’s a dream match made in soulsville: the iconic guitarist of Booker T and the MG’s writing and recording with the legendary blue-eyed soul vocalist of The Young Rascals. On disc, forty years after their respective chart conquests, their chops are in superb shape, their songwriting talents intertwine smoothly and they sound remarkably fresh and energized. Cavaliere’s vocals retain the summery emotion of his Young Rascals days, combining soulful phrasing with a horn-like edginess to his high notes, and Cropper’s guitar – both as a lead and rhythm instrument – retains every bit of its defining Memphis identity. In addition to his voice, Cavaliere’s organ gives a few tracks the old Rascals feeling, and the rhythm section of Shake Anderson and Chester Thompson is solid and surprisingly lyrical throughout. ¶ The album’s biggest payoff is the mid-tempo “If It Wasn’t for Loving You,” combining Cropper’s instantly identifiable rhythm guitar licks (and a sweet solo) with a heartfelt vocal by Cavaliere, a hook-filled melody, and a clever a cappella coda. This would have been a huge AM hit in 1967, but might slip through the cracks of today’s balkanized formats. Also winning are the contemporary soul-blues “To Make It Right” and “One of Those Days.” The former finds Cavaliere failing to satisfy his mate’s material and emotional desires, with Cropper’s guitar neatly echoing the lyrical anxiety. The latter demonstrates the anguished aftermath of love gone wrong, with a bottom-heavy rhythm, call-and-response vocals and a guitar solo that’s perfectly woven into the chugging beat. ¶ The duo explore more contemporary sounds with the soul-rap “Make the Time Go Faster” and proto-funk of “Still Be Loving You,” and Cropper’s guitars turn swampy (and Thompson’s drums get heavy) for the instrumental “Full Moon Tonight.” Two more instrumentals, “Cuttin’ It Close” and the ska-rhythmed “Jamaica Delight,” are undermined by dated sounds from Cavaliere’s keyboard, and though the same might have been true of the synthesized strings on the soft soul “Impossible,” it’s saved by Cavaliere and his background singers. The album’s closing instrumental “Love Appetite” is likewise plagued by synthesizers on its edges, but Cropper’s charging guitar and Cavaliere’s Ramsey Lewis-styled piano provides salvation. This album delivers what it promises: two soul legends combining their talents into a contemporary album that deeply echoes the past. The real surprise is how vital both players sound. [©2008 redtunictroll at hotmail dot com]

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Product Overview


Label Stax Records/concord Jazz
SKU 208385394
UPC 888072307896
UPC 14 00888072307896
Format CD
Release Date 7/29/2008
Author Steve Cropper
Product Attributes
Artist Cropper,Steve
Music Format Compact Disc

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Blue-eyed and Memphis soul summit pays big dividen by on Jul 30, 2008