Steve Cropper and Felix Cavaliere

Steve Cropper and Felix Cavaliere

Steve Cropper and Felix Cavaliere

Midnight Flyer

Stax Records

I was excited to get this collaborative disc between these two great Stax players, but was disappointed after giving it a spin. Steve Cropper is one of those top-notch studio musicians who appears on just about everything and occasionally even gets a liner credit. You may remember him playing himself in the 1980s “The Blues Brothers” movie, and he’s played on enough soundtracks and albums to befuddle any music historian. Cavaliere sang for “The Rascals” and turned out half a dozen hits. Together these guys produce some brilliant music, but this disc feels like it was laid down in the dark days of disco and evokes a trite lounge act without a trace of irony.

Opening track “You Give Me All I Need” is a multi-layered love song with a vaguely Latin touch, Motown backup vocals, and a slightly jazzy bass creating a smooth ’70s feel. It’s nice and romantic, but I’ve heard this same sound every time I’ve ordered a Pina Colada. Title cut “Midnight Flyer” has the same dated sound, it’s bouncy and the guitar solo is short and sweet, but the male back up chorus somehow feels wrong. Later we check in with “Chance with Me,” which plays on a rhyming couple to “dance with me.” Guitar notes are plump and well-rounded, and it’s not a bad song, but it’s not a great one either. The subsequent “Move the House” feels acoustically identical, even though it plods through one of those “Everybody dance!” rallying cries. Auto-tune sneaks in like a kid brother trying to steal a beer and all you can do is smile gently. I hate to say it, but “Midnight Flyer” takes quality musicians and great arrangements, and applies it to ineffective song writing.

Felix Cavaliere: www.felixcavaliere.com

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