Albums

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Soul - Released May 12, 1982 | Geffen* Records

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Without really stretching himself, Cropper plays the series of soul and funk originals on this disc adequately, but rarely instilling the passion and inventiveness of his recordings with Booker T. & The MG's. The various "guest" vocalists also pale in comparison to the Stax greats, but they do an adequate enough job. The title cut is the only time when sparks fly, and arguably the only track where Cropper contributes something original and truly captivating. "Night After Night" indicates that Cropper was not washed up without significant players around him, but this release adds little to his impressive body of work. ~ Thomas Ward
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Soul - Released June 6, 1981 | Geffen* Records

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The man whose reputation is well established as a stellar guitar sideman has a big challenge stepping out front, especially considering the decision to take on lead vocal responsibilities. As a result, Playing My Thang is not so much about Steve Cropper's guitar playing as his singing, the obvious reason the early-'80s release hasn't exactly achieved classic status. Not that he is a bad singer, not by any means. The title track manages to merge a story told by the singing voice with lead guitar playing, along the lines of the classic "Guitar Man" song and others of its ilk. "Give 'Em What They Want" is a surprising, thought-provoking opener, although it also presents the first ample evidence that this is going to be a dull album. The cynicism of the lyrics, as well as a somewhat morose groove, make it seem like a self-confessional opus from a singer/songwriter is underway -- basically the truth, since Cropper wrote or co-wrote many of these titles. In that case, are the musings of a jaded session man really such an attractive basis for lyrical philosophy? Certainly whoever designed the album cover didn't think so -- Cropper's axe is given priority. "Fly" is a bit more of a Stevie Wonder thing; which, along with an aggravated and strange brass arrangement of "Let the Good Times Roll," are examples of material related to, but not exactly in, what is considered to be Cropper's forte. A Delbert McClinton cover, entitled "Sandy Beaches," complete with Jim Horn on flute, brings to mind the Herbie Mann Memphis Underground recordings as well as the prospect that a guitarist could take advantage of such a setting for some picking. Cropper's main business seems to be trying to pull off the vocal, complete with "I'll be loving you, loving you" chorus. Any chord Cropper played on any Booker T. & the MG's album is better than this entire album -- a realization that, although highly complimentery to the genius of Steve Cropper, is of little help when it comes to concieving just how he could have made a better solo album. ~ Eugene Chadbourne
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Soul - Released January 1, 1973 | Stax

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1973, Ghetto: Misfortune’s Wealth finds its way into stores and magnifying its release. “The pain grows deeper in the ghetto”, chanted by a voice that reverberates in the simple accompaniment of a piano, this is the opening one of the most cult and unrecognized albums of the Stax label. She is Kathleen Kent. She is part of 24-Carat Black, a collective of 25 musicians held together by the sole force of Dale Warren. Spotted in Cincinnati, where they reign supreme, the former Ditalians dream of becoming the future Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye circulated by Motown. Why did Warren believe so much in them? He left very quickly in the early beginnings of Motown to join Stax and orchestrate notably the album of Isaac Hayes (Hot Buttered Soul, The Isaac Hayes Movement). Inexperienced, the kids from Ohio do not immediately embrace the project Warren has been carving out for them for months. In an America where the water is always murky for African-Americans, the class struggle has turned from a dead pacifism with Malcolm X to the affirmation of the black identity, with its culmination one year prior, at the Wattstax festival. “I am black, I am proud, I am beautiful, I must be respected”, shout the arena of Black Woodstock after having listening to Warren’s Salvation Symphony. With Ghetto: Misfortune’s Wealth, the conductor intends to develop the subject further. Serious sobriety, purity without pretense, ample funk arrangements carefully decorated by his craftsmanship, the work does not tick the boxes of the commercial formula which is quickly stamped "conceptual". With an eye clearly on the formats explored by progressive rock, its eight cleverly titled titles exercise the blues and gospel roots of black music, with it totaling 55 minutes. Synopsis One: Kathleen Kent's uncompromising monologues about black suffering precede Princess Hearn's gospel prayers on God Save The World. Then Hearn finds Ernest Latimore for Poverty's Paradise, a sublime requiem stretching over twelve minutes. Valerie Malone takes care of the classy Mother's Day and Ghetto: Misfortune's Wealth. If the scores are already ready when they arrive in the studio, Brown-Baggin’ and 24-Carat Black will come from jam-sessions, while Foodstamps will be entirely from Warren. Possessing a rare quality, the songs draw their strength in the precocity of Carat-Black. Hearn, Malone and organist Billy Talbert were not even fifteen when they started working on the project. After six months of sleepless nights spent on rehearsals, a twelve-hour session would be enough to record everything. Only the voices would be transplanted afterwards. A year later, 24-Carat Black would separate after having conquered the crowd of the Holiday Inn Memphis. Shortly then after, Shotgun is born and the alcoholism of Warren. In his descent into a dark place, he will have time to see his work reach a cult status. A cult that will give so much to hip-hop as it is sampled by its golden age who go on to take torch, like Digable Planets, Jay-Z, Nas, RZA and even Madlib. © Charlotte Saintoin/Qobuz
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Soul - Released November 18, 2016 | Concord Records, Inc. (UMG Account)

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Soul - Released November 18, 2016 | Stax

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Soul - Released November 18, 2016 | Stax

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Soul - Released November 18, 2016 | Stax

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Soul - Released November 18, 2016 | Concord Records, Inc. (UMG Account)

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Soul - Released November 18, 2016 | Concord Records, Inc. (UMG Account)

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Soul - Released November 18, 2016 | Concord Records, Inc. (UMG Account)

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Soul - Released November 18, 2016 | Concord Records, Inc. (UMG Account)

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Joy

Soul - Released November 18, 2016 | Concord Records, Inc. (UMG Account)

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Soul - Released November 18, 2016 | Concord Records, Inc. (UMG Account)

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Soul - Released January 1, 1966 | UNI - MOTOWN

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Soul - Released September 16, 1969 | UNI - MOTOWN

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Soul - Released March 6, 1970 | UNI - MOTOWN

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Soul - Released December 8, 1968 | Motown

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Rather than rushing out an album in the spring of 1968, when "Shoo-Be-Doo-Be-Doo-Da-Day" (Number 9 Pop, Number One R&B) hit, Motown waited, through the modest summer success of "You Met Your Match" (Number 35 Pop, Number Two R&B), until "For Once in My Life" (Number Two Pop and R&B) became Wonder's next mammoth single, to release an album. As a result, this album contained all three hits, making it one of Wonder's more consistent albums of the '60s, even with filler like "Sunny" and "God Bless the Child." The real find, however, is the driving "I Don't Know Why," which, when placed on the B-side of Wonder's next single, "My Cherie Amour," became a hit on its own, going to Number 39 (Pop) and Number 16 (R&B). ~ William Ruhlmann
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Soul - Released June 1, 1966 | UNI - MOTOWN

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Soul - Released January 1, 1970 | UNI - MOTOWN

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Soul - Released August 29, 1967 | UNI - MOTOWN

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Genre

Soul in the magazine