SoulMusic’s latest “twofer” pairs two classics from the still-wonderful Tower O Power. LPs in question are 1972’s ‘Bump City’ and their eponymous ’73 set.
Recorded in Memphis, ‘Bump City’ was the band’s second album and the one to kick start their career. Working with Steve Cropper and Stax engineer Ron Capone, band leaders Emilio Castillo and Stephen Kupka learnt how to channel the raw energy that fuelled their ‘East Bay Grease’ debut into tighter, more structured funk forms, laying down the template that was to become Tower Of Power’s signature sound. That sound is typified by the tough ‘You Got To Funkifize’ while the slow jam that is ‘You’re Still A Young Man’ show a more tender side to the outfit.
For the 1973 follow-up Castillo and Kupka enlisted a new, young soul singer, Lenny Williams and the resultant ‘Tower Of Power’ ten tracker remains one of the band’s most complete albums. Standout remains the timeless ‘So Very Hard To Go’ which despite its odd structure became a top 20 hit and it still sounds contemporary despite the passage of some forty years. Other hits from the album were ‘What Is Hip’ and ‘This Time Its Real’. On both the famed TOP horn section is on blistering from.
Though both albums have been reissued many times before, it’s good to have them easily available once more and, as ever, SoulMusic offer two bonus tracks… single mixes of ‘You’re Still A Young Man’ and ‘What Is Hip’. To make investigation even more worthwhile, the sleeve notes come from our esteemed SJF colleague Charles Waring who lets you know everything you need to know.