Tower Of Power – 50 Years of Funk & Soul Live at the Fox Theater-Oakland, CA – June 2018 (2021)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/48 kHz | Time – 01:53:06 minutes | 2,29 GB | Genre: Funk, Soul, R&B
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Artistry Music
Over the course of two electrifying evenings in June 2018, Tower of Power returned to its hometown of Oakland, CA to celebrate half a century of music with family, friends, and a few thousand friends. On Friday, the legendary funk outfit announced 50 Years of Funk & Soul: Live at the Fox Theater – Oakland, CA June 2018, a live release encapsulating the band’s 50th-anniversary run.
The live album is due for a wide release on March 26th via Artistry Music/Mack Avenue Music Group, but it will also be available for hi-res streaming and download exclusively on Qobuz a month early on February 26th. The full release will come in a variety of formats including a three-LP set, a two-CD/DVD combo, a standalone DVD, as well as digitally.
Time waits for no one…right? While times and tastes change, every so often a group fine tunes a durable mix of musical firepower and showbiz glitz and manages to defy the years. This first call, horn section-turned-band, has solved the aging issue with a practical formula: get in a groove, write punchy horn charts, consistently whip up a high-energy funk revue where the jams blend together and viola, you have a band that is now celebrating the almost unheard-of milestone of a half century together! Tower of Power has a tradition of marking every passing decade with a live album and for their 50th anniversary in 2018 they brought the house—17 musicians and a full string section—to the Fox Theater in their original stomping ground of Oakland, CA, and filmed and recorded over 20 tracks in front of a partisan crowd that sounds appropriately stoked.
Though more than 60 musicians have passed through this band over the years, the first key to the band’s longevity is the continued presence in their signature two trumpet-three saxophone attack of the group’s two founding saxophone players, tenorman Emilio Castillo and baritone sax player Stephen “Doc” Kupka. Another essential element to the relentless tempos is the return of original drummer David Garibaldi, who deserves an ironman award for setting a lethal pace throughout. A special treat is that the other half of the band’s classic original rhythm section, bassist Francis “Rocco” Prestia, appears on four tracks—his final live recordings with the band before his death in September 2020. Of the guests, it’s good to hear SNL band director Lenny Pickett back in the fold and B-3 organist Chester Thompson adds several animated solos.
While many of these hard funk horn jams are mixed together without a break, this long set contains many outstanding instrumental highlights. ToP, who have appeared as a backup band on records by artists as diverse as Little Feat, The Meters, John Lee Hooker and Elton John, slide comfortably into supercharged versions of their early hits like 1973’s “What is Hip” and near the end, 1972’s “You’re Still a Young Man.” A new tune “Stop” from 2018, vividly keeps the band’s sound vital. Working hard to be an asset in a horn band, guitarist Jerry Cortez, makes his presence felt in a solo in “Can’t You See (You Doin’ Me Wrong)” And the band’s best sweet soul number, “You’re So Wonderful, So Marvelous,” reappears here in a new, near-definitive version.
At times, strong-voiced lead singer Marcus Scott’s vocal enthusiasm verges on being obnoxious—not every tune needs multiple screams or a “Make some noise!” shout between verses. And while it may be time to retire the band’s well-worn JB medley, “Diggin’ on James Brown,” the smooth professionalism here is terrific and it’s impressive that the band manages to keep up a full-bore, whirlwind energy level throughout these 22 tracks. While viewing the accompanying video would undoubtedly add to the enjoyment, this is one fiery soul set: proof the horn-driven funk has a thousand variations and so perhaps…an eternal life. – Robert Baird
01. Tower Of Power – Stroke ’75 (Live)
02. Tower Of Power – Ain’t Nothing Stopping Us Now (Live)
03. Tower Of Power – You Ought to Be Having Fun (Live)
04. Tower Of Power – Soul with a Capital S (Live)
05. Tower Of Power – Stop (Live)
06. Tower Of Power – You’re So Wonderful, So Marvelous (Live)
07. Tower Of Power – On the Serious Side (Live)
08. Tower Of Power – Just When We Start Makin’ It (Live)
09. Tower Of Power – Soul Vaccination (Live)
10. Tower Of Power – What is Hip? / Soul Power (Live)
11. Tower Of Power – Do You Like That? (Live)
12. Tower Of Power – Drop It in the Slot (Live)
13. Tower Of Power – Can’t You See (You Doin’ Me Wrong)? (Live)
14. Tower Of Power – Maybe It’ll Rub Off (Live)
15. Tower Of Power – Don’t Change Horses (Live)
16. Tower Of Power – Squib Cakes (Live)
17. Tower Of Power – On the Soul Side of Town (Live)
18. Tower Of Power – Diggin’ on James Brown (Medley): Diggin’ on James Brown / It’s a New Day / Mother Popcorn / There It Is / I Got the Feelin’ / Diggin’ on James Brown (Reprise) (Live)
19. Tower Of Power – So Very Hard to Go (Live)
20. Tower Of Power – Knock Yourself Out (Live)
21. Tower Of Power – You’re Still a Young Man (Live)
22. Tower Of Power – Souled Out (Live)