Tag Archives: Booker T and MGs

Cropper and Cavaliere re-unite for 2nd Concord Release

10 Apr

STEVE CROPPER (BOOKER T. & THE MGs) AND FELIX CAVALIERE (THE RASCALS)

‘Midnight Flyer’, Due In Stores June 15, Showcases Two Titans Of Blue-Eyed Soul’s Golden Age

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Steve Cropper, guitarist for Booker T. and the MGs and one of the primary architects of the unmistakable Stax sound of the 1960s, and vocalist/keyboardist Felix Cavaliere, the voice of the Rascals and the pivotal figure in the blue-eyed soul movement of that same era, have reconvened for their second collaborative recording. Sparks fly at the crossroads of Memphis soul and East Coast R&B when Stax Records releases Midnight Flyer on June 15, 2010.

Midnight Flyer, recorded in Nashville and mixed by the legendary David Z, is the followup to Nudge It Up a Notch, the 2008 maiden voyage by Cropper and Cavaliere that scored critical acclaim from the music and mainstream press. The San Francisco Chronicle called Nudge It Up a Notch “an unexpected delight,” while Blues Wax heralded the project as “one of the great surprises of 2008, and further evidence of Concord’s genuine commitment to the revamped Stax imprint.”

The Stax legacy – and Concord’s commitment to it – are very much alive in Midnight Flyer, an album that once again showcases the songwriting prowess of two towering figures from one of the most seminal periods in the history of American pop music. Assisting with the songwriting throughout most of the album’s 12 tracks is drummer/percussionist/vocalist Tom Hambridge, who also lent a hand with the crafting of the previous album.

“Felix and I come from pretty much the same musical school – but from different geographical locations,” says Cropper. “He’s a Jersey boy at heart, and I grew up in Memphis, but when soul meets soul, what can you say? There are no borders. There are no boundaries.”

Felix tells the story of the classic Rascals song, “Groovin'”

But geography does play a role in the making of great songs, says Cavaliere. “Steve has that Southern vernacular, which is something I really like,” he says. “It’s almost like another language to those of us from the East Coast. It has a certain folky quality to it. Some of those idioms are part of the hit songs that Steve has written and recorded over the years, and they’re part of this record as well.”

The impact of both of these musicians and songwriters on pop music is nearly impossible to quantify. As part of Booker T. & the MGs – the house band for the Stax label in its original incarnation during the 1960s – Cropper co-wrote and produced classics by artists like Eddie Floyd (“Knock On Wood”), Wilson Pickett (“In the Midnight Hour”) and Otis Redding (“Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay”). In subsequent decades, he lent his instrumental and production skills to a range of artists including Jeff Beck, the Blues Brothers, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and many others.

Cavaliere came to prominence in the mid-’60s as vocalist/keyboardist/songwriter for the Rascals (initially known as the Young Rascals). Cavaliere wrote and/or sang several of the band’s biggest hits, including “Good Lovin'” (1966), “Groovin'” (1967), “It’s a Beautiful Morning” (1968) and “People Got To Be Free” (1968). The phrase “blue-eyed soul” was coined during the Rascals’ heyday, due in large part to the group’s highly successful forays into R&B and soul – styles that had been developed and previously dominated by African-American artists.

Co-produced by Cropper, Cavaliere and Hambridge, Midnight Flyer captures the synergy and brilliance that can only emerge when two powerful forces of nature come together. The result is a range of styles and shades, from heartfelt ballads like “When You’re With Me” to the soul-charged “I Can’t Stand It,” a churning vocal duet featuring Cavaliere and his daughter Aria. “Sexy Lady” harkens back to the soul stylings of the ’70s, while the funky instrumental “Do It Like This” digs into a tight groove and makes plenty of room for Cropper’s tasty riff work to close out the set.

Some of Cropper’s tasty fret work with Booker T and MGs

“The main thing we both take away from this record is how much fun we had making it,” says Cavaliere. “We may have used a lot of new technology that didn’t even exist when Steve and I were recording back in the day, but the songs themselves are still the most important part of the process, and we just had a blast writing and recording them. I think that spirit comes through on the record.”

Cropper notes a timelessness about Cavaliere that serves as a metaphor for the music itself. “Felix is ageless,” he says. “Sure, you can look at him and see that he’s gotten older since those early days, just like we all have. But if you close your eyes, he sounds as young and energetic as he did when he was making records back in the ’60s . . . Working together on records like this reminds us of the kinds of things that go into the making of a good song. We’re still doing that, and we’re still having fun doing it.”

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Eddie Floyd Releases New CD on Stax Label

4 Oct

Soul man Eddie Floyd’s first new album in six years, Eddie Loves You So, marks his return to Stax Records. The singer who scored a monster soul classic with “Knock on Wood” in 1967 has returned to his Southern roots for the new CD. Includes 10 original songs written for fellow soul artists in the `50s and `60s.

Watch Eddie & Phil Upchurch perform Floyd’s hit, “Knock On Wood.”

Dan Aykroyd’s Wines are No Joke

1 Oct

Dan Aykroyd Wines celebrate the spirit and flavour of the world’s top wine producing regions.

From his highly successful career in film and television to his co-founding the House of Blues, Dan Aykroyd has brought laughter, music and entertainment into the homes and hearts of millions of people around the globe.

Under Dan’s direction, his wines will be produced by Diamond Estates Wines & Spirits Ltd., a top independent Toronto-based wines and spirits agency which owns several Canadian award-winning wineries.

Dan Aykroyd has found a way to share his passion for great wine and his affinity for entertaining by creating a portfolio of new and exciting world-class tasting wines that people can proudly serve at their tables.

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www.danaykroydwines.com – This is no joke, people. The wines are said to be very good!

Note: Aykroyd credits former Blues Brothers guitarist Steve Cropper (Booker T & MGs/STAX fame) with introducing him to the many wonders of the fermented grape. Who knew a Tennessee country boy like Cropper could have such a far reaching impact on the typically snobby wine industry? Good work!