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Things have come full circle.,
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This review is from: Dedicated (Audio CD)
It was one of those seminal moments in music history. The 5 Royales had just finished a performance at the Tropicana in Memphis when guitarist Lowman Pauling was approached by a tall young white boy. This was unusual for the time; the only white people who met the band backstage were promoters or record executives. The young Steve Cropper wanted Lowman to show him how to "make that guitar stomp." In an impromptu peformance, the guitarist showed his stuff for Cropper and his best friend, Donald "Duck" Dunn.
Over fifty years later, things have definitely come full circle. In the liner notes to the Royales' "It's Hard But It's Fair", Steve credits Pauling for influencing his style of playing. With "Dedicated", Cropper not only pays tribute to the 5 Royales, but he's made it his mission to educate the public about his favorite band. In the booklet for "Dedicated", Cropper writes "If I can educate these young ears as to where the music started, because they're always asking, and if I can get them interested in the 5 Royales, then I've done something."
"Dedicated" is the brainchild of songwriter/producer Jon Tiven. A veteran producer, he shares tenor sax duties with Dap-King member Neal Sugarman. The guest vocalists are a who's who of roots musicians: Lucinda Williams and Dan Penn duet on "Dedicated to the One I Love" and Williams ACHES on "When I Get Like This". "Messin' Up" with Sharon Jones and "Say It" with Betty La Vette are back to back modern soul gems. As for the guys, Steve Winwood on "Thirty Second Lover" and Delbert McClinton on "Right Around The Corner" prove that some veteran singers do age like fine wine.
I'm a bit puzzled with the choice of Buddy Miller as the lead for "Slummer The Slum." The original had Johnny Tanner belting out each verse with indignation while the background singers shout "Slummer The Slum" like a rhythm instrument. Miller is a fine guitarist and singer, but just a bit too "laid back" for such a rousing number; the background almost whispers the refrain. A better choice would have been Shemekia Copeland or Bettye.
Cropper's guitar is, is course, superb throughout. On this album, he gets to let loose which he seldom does with Booker T. and the MGs. A highlight is "Think", done here as an instrumental. Both Cropper and Miller do Lowman proud, while Tiven plays engaging solo tenor sax. Cropper obviously loves to share the spotlight: B.B. King
adds guitar and duets with Shemekia on "Baby Don't Do It."
Upon the completion of "Dedicated", Cropper wrote "It's been the most fun I've had making an album in a long time". You'll have fun- and an appreciation listening to this album, too.