Tower of Power- East Bay Grease Still Fresh After 50+ years…
Tower of Power – 50 Years of Funk & Soul- Live at the Fox Theater – Artistry Music #ART 7078 – 55:26 / 57:49/ – 2 CD & DVD 1:46– 2018 – ****
(Emilio Castillo – band leader, tenor sax, vocals; Stephen “Doc” Kupka – baritone sax; Francis “Rocco” Prestia – bass; David Garibaldi – drums; Roger Smith – keyboards; Tom Politzer – tenor sax; Adolfo Acosta – trumpet; Jerry Cortez – guitar; Sal Cracchiolo – trumpet; Marcus Scott – lead vocals; Marc van Wageningen – bass; — with Tower of Power alumni: Chester Thompson – Hammond B3, clavinet; Lenny Pickett – tenor sax; Bruce Conte – guitar; Ray Greene – trombone; Dave Eskridge – arranger & keyboards; Melanie Jackson & Tony Lindsay – background vocals & Tower of Power Funky Strings)
Tower of Power has been going strong since 1968. Originally formed as a cover band by Emilio Castillo and Stephen Kupka, the power house horn based group’s funky soul has lit up stages for over half a century, and is still actively touring.
One of the original members, trumpeter, Greg Adams (disclaimer—I went to high school with Greg), did most of the horn arrangements and led the Tower of Power horns on other group’s albums. He left Tower of Power in the early 1990s, and other members took over those duties.
Several members have achieved iconic status, such as drummer, David Garibaldi, and bassist Francis “Rocco” Prestia, who sadly recently passed away. Tenor saxist, Lenny Pickett, became band leader for Saturday Night Live on NBC.
The group has gone through several lead singers. Each had the chops to deliver the sweet soul lyrics that devoted fans love. Their arrangements are tight, the horns always deliver, and most members contribute background vocals.
Their distinctive blend of soul and funk has given their “sound” the moniker of “Oakland Soul” or “East Bay Grease.” To celebrate their 50th anniversary, the band put on a two day celebration at Oakland’s Fox Theater on June 1st and 2nd, in 2018. It was both recorded and filmed. The celebration, in a glorious, 2 CD with DVD gate fold package, is now available for TOP fanatics.
All the hits are here including “Ain’t Nothing Stopping Us Now,” “You’re Still a Young Man,” “Soul Vaccination,” “Don’t Change Horses,” “So Very Hard to Go,” “Knock Yourself Out,” and many others. In addition there is a two sided DVD with bonus songs, interviews, and special features. The DVD is worth the cost of the package alone. The acoustics are fine with the power and soulfulness of the band on full display.
Long live TOP. The only question is why this iconic group is not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? That’s a question for another day…
Stroke ’75, Ain’t Nothing Stopping Us Now, You Ought to Be Having Fun, Soul with a Capital S, Stop, You’re So Wonderful, So Marvelous, On the Serious side, Just When We Start Makin’ It, Soul Vaccination, What is Hip?/Soul Power, Do You Like That?, Drop in the Slot
Can’t You See (You Doin’ Me Wrong?), Maybe It’ll Rub Off, Don’t Change Horses, Squib Cakes, On the Soul Side of Town, Diggin’ on James Brown (medley), So Very Hard to Go, Knock Yourself Out, You’re Still a Young Man, Souled Out