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Nudge It Up A Notch

by: Steve Cropper & Felix Cavaliere

Album Artwork

Nudge It Up A Notch
Steve Cropper & Felix Cavaliere
Concord Music/STAX
By James Calemine

Recorded last year in Nashville, Nudge It Up A Notch features the latest work of Steve Cropper and Felix Cavaliere. Steve Cropper served as the nucleus at STAX Records back in the days when he recorded with Booker T & The MGs, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett and many others.

The disc contains the old R & B sounds Cropper wrote 40 years ago. Nudge It Up A Notch contains various instrumentals that only Cropper could write. In a recent Mystery And Manners interview, Steve Cropper provided insight to the making of the record:

"It’s interesting. We started most of the writing at Jon Tiven’s studio in Nashville. Some of the things we finished were at my studio and some of it we finished in Felix’s studio. We mixed it at a place called the Sound Kitchen with David Z. I think we made a pretty decent record. We didn’t start this to make a record—we started it just to write some songs and have some fun to see where it would take us. We just kept going…we were having so much fun. All of a sudden, we’re looking at each other and we’ve got 8 or 9 tracks. We felt like we should just keep going and turn it into something. Then we got it and we said are we going to finish this or what? So, Felix took it home and started working on a lot of the vocals. Some of the ones he wasn’t comfortable with…but somebody—Concord or Tiven—why don’t we turn these into instrumentals? So in the final hour that’s kind of what I did—I went in for some overdubs and made them instrumentals and put two or three on there."


"If It Wasn't for Loving You" features on of Cropper's finest guitar solos in years. Cavaliere's voice stands as a fine mix with the low-bottom swing of Cropper's driving musical approach. "Full Moon Tonight" should play on the radio just for the sheer hypnotic riff of Cropper. This instrumental song reminds you why he's a legend. "To Make It Right" may serve as the song radio stations might play.


Every song contains Cropper gems, hooks riffs that amaze. "Still Be Loving You" ranks as another great R & B track. Shake Anderson's bass work on this collection of songs emerges as a strong backbone, especially on the instrumental--complete with horns--"Cuttin' It Close". "Make The Time" sways between a Funk and Rap ditty that should perk a few ears.


"Jamaica Delight" indicates Cropper's mastery of all genres of music--including reggae. This instrumental counts as another classic instrumental for Cropper as does the final track, "Love Appetite". "Appetite" ends this collection with Cavaliere trading piano runs with Cropper's guitar riffs. Nudge It Up a Notch verifies anything recorded by Steve Cropper is worth purchasing.


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