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Urban Renewal

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Album Review

Tower of Power was very much in its prime in 1974, when the Bay Area outfit tore up the soul charts with the outstanding Urban Renewal. Lenny Williams, a passionate, wailing, gospel-influenced dynamo of a singer, had joined Tower the previous year, and he worked out remarkably well; whether digging into tough funk or romantic ballads, Williams is in top form. Funk doesn't get much more invigorating than horn-driven gems like "Maybe It'll Rub Off," "Give Me the Proof" and "Only So Much Oil in the Ground" (a commentary on the mid-'70s energy crisis), and soul ballads don't get much richer than "Willing to Learn" and "I Won't Leave Unless You Want Me To." Tower (an influence on everyone from L.T.D. to the Average White Band) recorded a number of essential albums in the '70s, and Urban Renewal is at the top of the list.

Biography

Formed: 1967 in Oakland, CA

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The renowned horn-driven funk outfit Tower of Power have been issuing albums and touring the world steadily since the early '70s, in addition to backing up countless other musicians. The group's leader since the beginning has always been tenor saxophonist Emilio Castillo, who was born in Detroit but opted to pursue his musical dreams in Oakland, California. It was in Oakland that Castillo put together a group called the Motowns, which, as their name suggested, specialized in '60s-era soul. In 1967,...
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Urban Renewal, Tower of Power
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