Steve Cropper is one of the most revered and legendary electric guitar players in rock, soul, blues and R&B.
But the Booker T. and the M.G.’s legend, who was also a member of the Blues Brothers and whose guitar can be heard on everything from Wilson Pickett’s Midnight Hour and Otis Redding’s (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay to Sam & Dave’s Soul Man and Albert King’s Born Under a Bad Sign, has never done much in the way of solo work over his more than 50-year career.
The 79-year-old Cropper has just announced Fire It Up, which he calls his “first proper solo album since 1969”. He’s also unveiled the first single from the record, Far Away, a soul-rock jam that boasts a Born Under a Bad Sign-esque bounce and plenty of signature Cropper lead work.
“I haven’t heard myself this way since the ‘60s.” Cropper said in a statement. Regarding his guitar playing, he continued, “I’m a rhythm player. I set the groove. I’m always listening to the singer and the rest of band.”
You can check out the video for Far Away above.
As for Fire It Up, the album is rooted in sessions with the Rascals’ Felix Cavaliere and produced with long-time collaborator Jon Tiven. “It’s made from old grooves, because during a lockdown, you work on stuff that’s been in your head for years,” said Cropper, who serves as both guitarist and producer.
“To be a good producer, you’ve got to be able to hear a song finished in your head before there’s much of anything done,” he continued. “A good production is not accidental. I’m really proud of things that I produce.”
Fire It Up is out April 23 via Mascot Label Group/Provogue Records. You can preorder it here.