Tower of Power
50 Years of Funk & Soul: Live at The Fox Theater – Oakland, CA – June 2018
In 2018 one of the world’s great live bands, Tower of Power, hit their hometown stage to celebrate its 50th birthday. Now we get to hear that set of recordings. Taken from a two-gig hometown stand, Live at the Fox Theater bursts from your speakers with all the enthusiastic funk that TOP can muster. Which is a lot! Several line-ups and so many changes, but for this special set of shows they welcomed back a few past members and the engine still hums thanks to the nearly peerless David Garibaldi on drums. His almost implausibly tight funk-grooves (Squib Cakes) drive the big bad hits (What Is Hip?) and even some of the newer material that’s smattered across the two discs here (Stop).
A James Brown medley is a huge mid-set highlight, the horns just frothing, those funky guitars peeling out the clean licks. This is – as its always been – a muscular unit, funk and soul propelled from the stage. Infectious. Jubilant.
The lockdown delayed the release of this record and has put an anchor on the good ship Tower of Power. Sad news too, because founding bass player Francis ‘Rocco’ Prestia had returned for these shows and has since passed away late last year, prior to this live document being made available.
It now serves as a tribute to his memory and wonderful playing.
But guitarist Bruce Conte, keyboardist Chester Thompson, saxophonist Lenny Pickett and vocalist/trombonist Ray Greene are some of the other star-turns here. Just soulful and wonderful in equal measures. This is a treat for longtime fans and it would serve as a more than decent introduction if you’ve heard about the Tower of Power horns and groove and wondered how it all aligns. Some of the best players around giving it their finest Oakland stroke.
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