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. Given his history, it's no surprise that he was able to rope in an all-?star cast, including B.B. King, Brian May, Lucinda Williams, Sharon Jones, Bettye LaVette, Steve Winwood and many others.
Given the large number of vocalists, it's unfair to expect much consistency in their approaches. And though the album feels more like a compilation, it's hard to complain when the quality's so high. Some singers shine more than others: both Lucinda Williams and Bettye LaVette attack their songs with so much raw passion that it's easy to miss the beautifully layered Queenesque harmonies on Brian May's rendition of I Do. Dedicated serves not only as an introduction to a criminally overlooked, pioneering pre-R&R group but also as a reminder of why Cropper remains so well respected.
Top track: Don't Be Ashamed