By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., Chicago Crusader
“‘Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now,’ a perfect statement for this rejuvenated band who is once again reaching the peak of their powers.” – Past
“What is Hip?” How’s this for an answer: The band charting #1 on the Billboard Jazz Charts for the first time in their 50-year history.” Jazziz Magazine
These are just two of the hits that the Tower of Power has released during their 50-year-career. A couple of months back, Artistry Music, a Mack Avenue Records label, released “Soul Side of Town,” Tower of Power’s 25th album – a cranial-crushing funk amalgamation of soul, vintage R&B, groove, pop and rock. It’s the centerpiece for a celebratory 50th Anniversary campaign that includes the re-release of four hard-to-find independent productions: “The East Bay Archive Vol. 1” (a 1973 live recording from Boston), “Oakland Zone” (a 2008 release celebrated for the return of drummer David Garibaldi after several years away), “Great American Soulbook” (an all-star affair of soul classics featuring guests such as Joss Stone, Tom Jones, Sam Moore and Huey Lewis), and “40th Anniversary: Live At The Fillmore in San Francisco” (a deluxe multi-disc CD/DVD collector’s item loaded with great new live renditions of hits, plus interviews with alumni past and present).
“Soul Side of Town” has 14 filler-free songs that delve into the golden canon of classics with a fresh approach to new material picking up the torch in all of the time-tested styles fans respect and love. It’s the perfect backdrop for a hair-raising audio experience.
This release is comprised of funky vibrant and intricately woven songs that exhibit a wide range in musicality that’s both modern and electrifying. The album includes soon-to-be-classics like “Hangin’ With My Baby,” “Butter Fried” and “After Hours” to the funky “Stop” and love songs “I Can’t Stop Thinking About You,” “Love Must Be Patient and Kind,” “Let It Go” which is a heart-throbber, and “Do It With Soul” for the people providing the soundtrack for generations to come,
Founding member, composer, saxophonist Emilio Castillo reflects through press materials: “Celebrating 50 years together is a surreal experience. Recording with Producer Joe Vannelli and finishing 28 all new original songs has been a huge project and probably what may be the best work of our career. Touring at the same time while planning the filming of our 50-Year-Anniversary Concert is like being in a whirlwind. People everywhere congratulating us and planning to fly to the concert from all over the world is just amazing. It’s all one big blur right now. God, what a wonder!!!”
Castillo also had time to answer a few questions for the Crusader about the band’s success. He said that the soulful sound that the band first embraced when starting out was by design and, even though the band formed in 1968, their work wasn’t political at the time.
As a teenager I recall the 1972 hit “You’re Still A Young Man,” and I asked Castillo what was the impetus for this hit. “I was in a passionate relationship with a girl that was six years older than me, and she kept telling me that she was too old for me and that I should find a girl my own age,” Castillo said.
He says that the way that music is shared and marketed now is vastly different than 50 years ago. “The Internet has completely changed the way people get their music, and also the worldwide fans are now connected intimately on a daily basis.”
While noting that The Spyders (an East Bay Soul music cover band) and Sly and the Family Stone were great influences of Tower of Power early on, Castillo says that during the past decades the most negative aspect has been “the corporate takeovers of rock promotion.”
Other band members include Stephen “Doc” Kupka, and David Garibaldi, guitarist Jerry Cortez, Bassist Marc van Wageningen, Ham-mond B3 organist/keyboardist Ro-ger Smith, 1st tenor saxophonist Tom Politzer, and trumpeters Adolfo Acosta and Sal Cracchiolo.
To see the band in action—whether for the first time or to see them in concert again—Tower of Power will perform four sets at the City Winery Chicago on August 8, 9, and 10. The venue is located at 1200 W. Randolph St. For more information, visit https://citywinery.com/chicago/tower-of-power-50th-anniversary-tour-8-8-18.html.