December 11, 2023

Money and Cigarettes II – the Blues Brothers got Soul

Yesterday I talked a little bit about the Stax sound and Donald Duck Dunn and last night when I got home The Blues Brothers movie was on television. What a smooth band. Donald Dunn and Steve Cropper backing Jake and Elwood blues in the middle of several over-cooked high speed car crash episodes.

Cropper must be the second most influential guitarist of all time and his recording legacy with the Stax label just goes to show that successful, inspiring guitar playing doesn`t necessarily have to centre around aural histrionics,  sonic pyrotechnics, prowess, or high octane, nitrous fuelled fingerboard bombastics!    No siree…

As a Stax records house guitarist, he played on hundreds of records, from “(Sittin’ on) the Dock of the Bay”, cowritten with Otis Redding, to Sam and Dave’s “Soul Man”. Besides his influential work with Booker T and the MGs, Cropper co-wrote “Knock On Wood” with Eddie Floyd, and  “In the Midnight Hour” with Wilson Pickett.

Here`s Cropper talking about how he wrote the Knock on Wood introduction through simply playing In the Midnight Hour backwards. Genius and life changing. The first time I saw this years and years ago I realised that in many cases simplicity is the key in building memorable guitar hooks and although Cropper has some kind of innate sixth sense songwriting genius in him, he proves here and on record that complexity can become a killer when it comes to the “money licks”!


Jake Edwards

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