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Tower of Power: Soul Side Of Town

Reviewed by Barry Towler

Soul Express CD of the Season - Spring 2018

Rating: 8/ 10

US Mack Avenue, 2018

East Bay! All Day! / Hangin' With My Baby / Do You Like That? / On The Soul Side Of Town / Do It With Soul / Love Must Be Patient And Kind / Butter Fried / Selah / Let It Go / Stop / When Love Takes Control / After Hours / Can't Stop Thinking About You / East Bay! Oakland Style!

WOW! What a phenomenal album this is, and respect to Solar Radio's Tony Monson for playing it on his morning show as I had no clue it was released! An incredible set of raw, edgy, funky tunes celebrating an amazing 50 years in the business. I might even go as far as saying that this is their best set yet!!! Emilio Castillo and the gang deliver what I can only describe as a tour-de-force release which sees such force, passion, vigour and style. Far from losing their stride, Tower Of Power are firing on all cylinders and give us what I can only describe as a funky firework display of immense proportions.

Soul Side of Town does not come across as weak! This album has two lead vocalists - we all remember the superb Ray Greene (You may recall I interviewed him for the paper Soul Express back in 1997!) and rookie Marcus Scott who tears down the house! So many good songs on here I could eulogise on each one. I won't. I'll just pinpoint my favourites of favourites, and let you absorb the rest at your own leisure and pleasure.

Hangin' With My Baby is my first choice, and sees Marcus Scott blow us away with a phenomenal set of chops for a debut with the group. The five piece horn section kick ass big time, and the effect is like a soulful shock and awe campaign on the ears. Well, if you don't surrender to that then I know for a fact that you will give in to Do You Like That. My word, this has to be one of my tracks of 2018. As soon as I heard it, the sheer power of Marcus' vocals, swirling strings and the tight, punchy, horn section, we are whisked away to a place of sheer joy, happiness, positivity enveloped in a Summer breeze and doused in warm sunshine. I am thrilled to the core that in 2018 classic artists like this are finding a platform for brand new, fresh and essential music.

Love Must Be Patient And Kind is a tender ballad, and breaks up the edgier material, and Love Takes Control also takes a similar path, and almost falls into Yacht Rock territory - think Pages or Chicago, and this suits me fine. More soulful is the beautiful Let It Go which is almost homage to Thom Bell and purveyors of sweet 70s soul. Such a quality groove. True to of Can't Stop Thinkin' About You with its light and breezy approach almost falls into the Earth, Wind & Fire Kalimba sound. A purchase of this CD is really a no-brainer. What Motown used to call "a no risk disc"!

Barry Towler,
The Vibe Scribe

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