Steve Cropper, Albert King and Pops Staples

Band members                             Related acts

- Steve Crooper -- vocals, guitar

- Albert King (RIP) -- vocals, guitar

- Roebuck 'Pops' Staples (RIP 2000) -- vocals, guitar




Booker T. & the MGs (Steve Cropper)

- Steve Cropper (solo efforts)

- Albert King (solo efforts)

- The Mar-Kays (Steve Cropper)

- The Staple Singers

- Pops Staples (solo efforts)





Genre: soul

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Jammed Together

Company: Stax

Catalog:  STS-2020

Year: 1971

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: demo stamp on back cover

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5269

Price: $50.00


Having long ago seen it on a Stax discography, this was one of those LPs I knew existed, but took forever to actually track down a copy.  While on a business trip about five years ago I actually found a copy in a Memphis record store, but the album was trashed and wasn’t worth the $30 asking price.  A couple of weeks later I found a copy at a local garage sale.  Karma ?  Who knows.   Once I actually found a copy, let me tell you I’m completely biased with respect to this LP.  Forget all the hype surrounding better known collections, this is easily one of my all-time favorite ‘guitar albums’. 


On paper a collaboration between guitarists Steve Crooper, Albert King and Pop Staples looked like a pretty amazing project – almost too good to be true.  Luckily, in one of those rare exceptions to the rule, 1971’s “Jammed Together” actually lived up to its promise.  The results were even more surprising given the album was apparently pieced together out of a series of off-the-cuff jam sessions (Cropper’s always disparaged the set).  Regardless of the LP’s roots, paired with the cream of Stax’s writing and production talent, Cropper, King and Staples proved surprisingly accomplished collaborators, more than willing to give each other room in the spotlight, while effortlessly blending their chops on a mixture of popular covers and original numbers.  While the seven instrumentals were all killer, the real highlights were the three vocal performances – each principal allocated one spotlight moment.  King’s laconic delivery on a blues-up version of ‘What’d I Say’ was a nice way to open the album, while spotlighting each player’s distinctive chops. Round one clearly went to King’s icy telecaster solo – though Cropper and Staples made up for lost time during the instrumental fade out.  Staples gospel-blues ‘Tupelo’ was equally good, serving as the perfect setting for his rawer guitar moves.  King and Cropper both turned in breathtaking solos, but based on the vocal performance round 2 went to Staples.  Jumping ahead a little, the surprising standout vocal performance came from Cropper.  For a guy not known for his voice, Cropper’s performance on ‘Water’ was astonishing, making you wonder why he didn’t sing more often (his solo albums are all-instrumental affairs).  For any true guitar afficiado listening to the album on a good set of headphones should be a major treat – identifying each player’s unique attack makes for a fun game after a couple of beers.  As you’d expect, Cropper had the edge on the more commercial soul tracks; King excelled on the bluesier numbers, leaving Staples the winner on the Gospel-inspired tracks.  In case anyone actually cared, here’s how I’d judge the individual performances:


Winner / song

Cropper (‘Opus De Soul’,’Big Bird’, ‘Homer’s Theme’, ‘Water’)

King (‘What’d I Say’, ‘Baby, What You Want Me To Do’, ‘Trashy Dog’, ‘Don’t Turn Your Heater Down’, ‘Knock On Wood’)

Staples (‘Tupelo’)


"Jammed Together" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) What’d I Say   (Ray Charles) – 5:30

2.) Tupelo    (John Lee Hooker) – 6:00

3.) Opus De Soul (instrumental)   (M. Thomas – A. Isabell) – 5:30

4.) Baby, What You Want Me To Do (instrumental)   (Jimmy Reed) – 3:30


(side 2)
1.) Big Bird (instrumental)   (Booker T. Jones – Eddie Floyd) – 3:05

2.) Homer’s Theme (instrumental)   (Homer Banks – R. Jackson) – 2:10

3.) Trashy Dog (instrumental)   (Terry Manning) – 2:45

4.) Don’t Turn Your Heater Down (instrumental)   (Steve Cropper – A. Isabell)  – 3:45

5.) Water   (Steve Crooper – Eddie Floyd) - 2:45

6.) Knock On Wood  (instrumental)   (Steve Cropper – Eddie Floyd) - 5:00