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Great American Soulbook

Tower of Power

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Album Review

Tower of Power have openly admitted resistance toward covering any hit R&B classics, preferring to play their original brand of funky soul and dance music with a horn-fired edge over their four decades on the scene. But they have finally acquiesced, reluctantly but with growing confidence during this session, in producing a tribute to the many solid singers who appeared in the charts during the '60s and '70s with these renditions of tunes familiar to Top 40 AM radio listeners. Special guest singers range from Sam Moore of Sam & Dave fame to young pop songstress Joss Stone, the veteran British lounge crooner Tom Jones, and rocker Huey Lewis, not to mention TOP frontman Larry Braggs. Philly and Motown music, love songs, retro-soul, and a little disco are included in this collection that is, for the most part, faithfully reproduced. A Sam & Dave hit penned by Isaac Hayes, "I Thank You" is soulfully rendered by Jones, while Moore digs in on Otis Redding's "Mr. Pitiful," both the most authentic highlights of the album. Lewis is quite convincing in his blue-eyed soul role during Wilson Pickett's shuffle swing "634-5789," offering the premise that he could pull off a whole album of this stuff. Braggs cops Stevie Wonder's style during "You Met Your Match," while he and an overamped Stone combine on the more heavily funky and contemporized version of Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston's "It Takes Two." Aretha Franklin's "Since You've Been Gone," sporting the refrain "Why'd you have to do it" with a backup chorus, is as true to the original as any other version. A James Brown medley unfortunately does not come close to the Godfather of Soul, and there are some sappy renditions of such numbers as Billy Paul's "Me & Mrs. Jones," Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band's "Loveland," and the Gaye/Tammi Terrell hit "Your Precious Love" with Braggs and Stone. "Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel," originally done by Tavares, is simply soupy and far too slick, and the Bill Withers song "Who Is He (And What Is He to You)?" is a revisited disco throwaway. Missing from these songs are the extended, powerful horn charts that made Tower of Power famous, with only a modicum of interaction and with little punch to add to the flavor of these charts. Perhaps a second volume might yield better results than the overtly commercialized collection that is presented here. Not bad — just not great. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

Customer Reviews

Tower of Power up tight and always all right

I'm not too sure if the person who reviewed this album is old enough to appreciate what has taken place here. Tower of Power has stayed true to who they are and at the same time covered some of the most popular songs of that era. They may not be "currently" politically, emotionally, what is acceptable, but you have to have lived back in the 60's and 70's, listened to what was playing on the radios and then and only then can you appreciate just what they have done with the songs they are covering. Tower of Power is phenominal, right on, up tight and all right and have alway been. I say this album rocks. I am happy to hear them honoring the music that was being played then. I LOVE what they did with the horn section ie: not the hard edged Tower of Power incredibly in you face, but laid back and totally consistent with the R&B horn sections of the day. This is great stuff, they proved that they are truly versitile. I'd like to hear them expand on this genre and give us some more of the GOOD STUFF.

Only Waited 40 Years for This CD

This is the real thing..TOP style, right down to the fade on the sax solo as the tribute to J.B. ends..so funky,you just wish this was a 45 so you could flip it to Part 2. Thanks guys for making this music come alive again.As a fan for 40 years, your music has gotten me through all the ups and downs of life...this CD is the right music at the right time. Great vocals..excellent horn arrangements...from America's premiere soul band...I'm ready for the next 40 years with this incredible soulbook....Now..how about Vol.2?

Forty Years, and Still Fresher than a Spring Breeze and Tighter than a Clenched Fist

T.O.P. can bring it home like nobody's business. I saw them live last night and what a treat. They are a national treasure. If you love soul, if you love funk, if you love a good time, then BUY THIS ALBUM!!! If you are not familiar with them BUY THIS ALBUM!!! If you are a long time devotee of the band like me, BUY THIS ALBUM!!! Sorry for the over the top enthusiasm, but my only two groups that make it to me "desert island" collection are Santana and T.O.P. This group is nothing short of mind boggling in their level of talent collectively and individually. And if you can see them live, and see how they still get so much joy out of what they do - it's totally infectuous, so get some T.O.P! JB

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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Great American Soulbook, Tower of Power
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