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Album Review: Dedicated: A Salute to the 5 Royales by Steve Cropper
Very Good, Based on 4 Critics
AllMusic - 80 Based on rating 8/10
Steve Cropper has said in numerous interviews that his main influence as a guitarist was Lowman Pauling, chief songwriter, arranger, and axeman of North Carolina's 5 Royales, a '50s-era group that wedded doo wop, jump blues, gospel, and jazz in an R&B style that scored them numerous hits throughout the 1950s. The 5 Royales also featured lead vocalist Johnny Tanner (and occasionally younger brother Eugene) supported by backing singers Otto Jeffries, Jimmy Moore, and Obadiah Carter. Cropper was approached by producer Jon Tiven (who he'd previously worked with on the first of his two collaborations with Felix Cavaliere) about collaborating on a tribute album to the 5 Royales, and jumped at the chance.
Thanks to his work with the Stax Records house band, Booker T. & the M.G.'s, Otis Redding, Sam & Dave and far too many others to mention, Steve Cropper is widely regarded as one of the most influential guitarists ever. On Dedicated, the man known as the Colonel pays tribute to one of his own key influences: the mostly forgotten 50s R&B group the 5 Royales.
Steve Cropper, probably best known for his work at Stax Records, has had a remarkable career lasting about half a century now. With his new release Dedicated, he’s looking back not just at the start of that career, but to the influences leading up to it. Cropper’s regularly cited guitarist Lowman Pauling of the “5” Royales as his primary inspiration in his early years, and this disc is his chance to play tribute to the guitarist and the band that was vital to his own art (and, though short-lived, significant to pop history).
As house guitarist with Stax records in the 1960s, Cropper was one of the architects of southern soul, a moving force behind Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett and more. Dedicated salutes one source of Cropper's terse but slinky style, the half-forgotten R&B group the 5 Royales, whose guitarist Lowman Pauling wrote standards such as "Dedicated to the One I Love" and "Think". An all-star guest list of vocalists reprises the Royales' catalogue, while Cropper leads an impeccable band.