Tower of Power - 50 Years of Funk & Soul – Live at the Fox Theater (Advance Review)

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Tower of Power: 50 Years of Funk & Soul – Live at the Fox Theater

In June 2018, soul and R&B band Tower of Power held a live concert in front of actual people in their hometown of Oakland, California. The concert was one of the events that TOP held that year to celebrate their 50 years as a band. Those activities included the release of a new album, Soul Side of Town. To put that show in context of what is happening right now, it took place 100 years after our country and world last experienced a global pandemic like this one, and two years before COVID-19 made live concerts something we will not soon take for granted.

Tower of Power: 50 Years of Funk & Soul – Live at the Fox Theater

In June 2018, soul and R&B band Tower of Power held a live concert in front of actual people in their hometown of Oakland, California. The concert was one of the events that TOP held that year to celebrate their 50 years as a band. Those activities included the release of a new album, Soul Side of Town. To put that show in context of what is happening right now, it took place 100 years after our country and world last experienced a global pandemic like this one, and two years before COVID-19 made live concerts something we will not soon take for granted.

The pandemic has been painful for any artist depending on live performances for making that connection with and receiving validation from audience, and for the financial benefits that come with concerts. For a band like Tower Of Power that has a reputation for having an energetic live show in addition to a catalog of hits from their studio albums, the loss of live shows must be particularly painful. The exciting thing about the band’s latest recording, 50 Years of Funk & Soul – Live at the Fox Theater, is that TOP fans will get a chance to hear what they’ve been missing.

The recording of the live show highlights all of the TOP constants, such as one of the most recognizable horn sections in all of music – one that was augmented by with additional horns and a string section. The album includes all the memorable hits such as “So Very Hard to To Go,” “You’re Still a Young Man,” “What is Hip” and “Don’t Change Horses,” as well tunes from more recent works such as “Stop” from Soul Side of Town. And the disc accomplishes one thing that is often hard for live albums to achieve – it captures the energy of a TOP show from the standpoint of the band as well as the audience.

And that show had a feel of a celebration and reunion, as it brought TOP alumni back to join mainstays Emilio Castillo and Dave Garibaldi. The show featured saxophonist Lenny Pickett, keyboardist Chester Thompson, guitarist Bruce Conte and vocalist/trombonist Ray Greene, who tore through all those memorable tunes over two nights. The show also featured founding bass player Francis ‘Rocco’ Prestia, who passed away last year.

50 Years of Funk & Soul – Live at the Fox Theater drops in late March and will be released as a three LP set, a two CD and DVD set or a stand-alone DVD. Hopefully a year of tough times will end the rollout of the vaccine and we will be able hear Tower of Power perform “Soul Vaccination” live. Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 
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