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)
- Pops Staples (solo efforts)
Rating: 4 stars ****
Title: Jammed Together
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: demo stamp on back cover
Catalog ID: 5269
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
(‘Opus De Soul’,’Big Bird’, ‘Homer’s Theme’, ‘Water’)
(‘What’d I Say’, ‘Baby, What You Want Me To Do’, ‘Trashy Dog’,
‘Don’t Turn Your Heater Down’, ‘Knock On Wood’)
Together" track listing:
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
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) –
5.) Water (Steve
Crooper – Eddie Floyd) - 2:45
6.) Knock On Wood (instrumental) (Steve Cropper – Eddie Floyd) - 5:00
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