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Music Review: Steve Cropper & Felix Cavaliere – Midnight Flyer

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Just about two years ago I reviewed Nudge It Up A Notch by Steve Cropper and Felix Cavaliere. It was a collaborative effort by two Rock and Roll Hall of Famers and one of the better, if underrated, albums of the year. I'd thought the album was a one-time union so I was pleasantly surprised when their second one, Midnight Flyer, arrived in my mail box.

Cropper is one of the legendary figures of American music, having been the guitarist for Booker T & The MG’s, who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992. As part of the Stax label house band for years, he backed many of the leading rhythm & blues artists of the day and his unique, influential style can be heard on songs by Otis Redding, Rufus Thomas, Johnny Taylor, and dozens more. He also co-wrote such songs as “In The Midnight Hour” and “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay.” He later accumulated a new fan base as the lead guitarist for the Blues Brothers Band, which he continues to front today.

Felix Cavaliere helped define blue-eyed soul as a member of The Young Rascals, who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. With such hits as “A Beautiful Morning,” “How Can I Be Sure,” “Groovin’,” “People Got To Be Free,” and “Good Lovin’,” the group released some of the best singles of the mid-to-late '60s.

The talents of these two men fit well together. Cropper’s guitar licks along with Cavaliere’s vocals and keyboards give the impression that they have been playing together for decades. The other musician of note here is drummer Tom Hambridge, who lays down a solid foundation on which the duo build their sound.

The music on Midnight Flyer has a nice ebb and flow. There are ballads such as “When You’re With Me” and uptempo numbers like “I Can Stand It” where Cavaliere duets with his daughter, Aria. “Sexy Lady” is a look back to the early '70s. And the instrumental “Do It Like This” allows Cropper to prove just how good and funky a guitarist he can be.

Cropper and Cavaliere prove that they indeed work well together and that there is a lot of life left in their legendary careers. Midnight Flyer is one of the better releases of the first half of 2010. Hopefully sometime in 2012 another album by these two veterans will magically arrive on my door step.

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