Soaring Soul: Tower of Power

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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. Castillo teamed up with a baritone sax player (and Motowns fan) Stephen “Doc” Kupka, and soon the Motowns had transformed into Tower of Power (one of the first tunes the duo penned together was “You’re Still a Young Man,” which would eventually go on to be one of Tower of Power‘s signature compositions).

Tower of Power played regularly in the Bay Area throughout the late ’60s, as their lineup often swelled up to ten members, including such other mainstays as Greg Adams on trumpet and vocals and Rocco Prestia on bass. By 1970, the funk outfit had inked a recording contract with Bill Graham‘s San Francisco Records, resulting in the group’s debut the same year, East Bay Grease, which failed to make an impression on the charts as Tower of Power were still trying to find their own sound.

 

Tower of Power

Tower of Power

But it all came together quickly for the group, as 1972’s Bump City would touch off a string of classic hit releases, including 1973’s self-titled release (which included another one of the group’s most enduring tunes, “What Is Hip?”), 1974’s Back to Oakland, plus 1975’s Urban Renewal and In the Slot. While Tower of Power remained a must-see live act, the quality of their subsequent records became erratic, resulting in some admirable releases (Ain’t Nothin’ Stoppin’ Us NowLive and in Living Color) and several uninspired albums that are best skipped over (We Came to PlayBack on the Streets).

Despite the dip in the quality of their albums, Tower of Power remained a much in-demand backing group for some of pop/rock’s biggest names, including Elton JohnSantanaBonnie RaittHuey LewisLittle FeatDavid SanbornMichelle ShockedPaula AbdulAaron NevilleAerosmith, Michael BoltonBilly PrestonPiLRod StewartTotoMerl Saunders, and others. Tower of Power remain very active to this day, keeping up a brisk touring schedule and issuing such new albums as 1999’s Soul Vaccination: Live; while several compilations were issued around the same time: Rhino’s double disc What Is Hip?: The Tower of Power Anthology (1999) and Very Best of Tower of Power: The Warner Years (2001), plus Epic/Legacy’s Soul With a Capital “S”: The Best of Tower of Power (2001).

The band celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2008 and still retained five original founding members. (AMG)

 

Ain't Nothin' Stoppin' Us Now

Track Listing:

01 Ain’t Nothin’ Stoppin’ Us Now

02 By Your Side

03 Make Someone Happy

04 Doin’ Alright

05 Because I think the World Of You

06 You Ought To Be Havin’ Fun

07 Can’t Stand To See The Slaughter

08 It’s So Nice

09 Deal With It

10 While We Went To The Moon

♪♪

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