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Pop - Released May 1, 1973 | Warner Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
The Tower of Power finally found their ideal lead singer on this album. Lenny Williams came aboard and gave them both the up-tempo belter and convincing balladeer they had previously lacked. They landed their biggest single hit, "So Very Hard to Go," and also had two other top tunes in "What Is Hip" and "This Time It's Real." The arrangements and production were also excellent, and the horn section was at its explosive best. © Ron Wynn /TiVo
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Pop - Released July 17, 2001 | Rhino - Warner Records

Usually, it's not a good sign if a band is generally known for augmenting artists instead of their own records, but Tower of Power was really a very good horn section, and they did make records that held their own. Of course, "What Is Hip?" was the biggest single they ever had, but they also had several other smaller hits that captured their sleek, stylized soul-funk quite well, such as "Soul Vaccination." Pretty much all of those songs are captured on Rhino's 2001 anthology The Very Best of Tower of Power: The Warner Years, which spans 16 tracks and contains almost all the highlights of their '70s records. Yes, the 1999 double-disc set What Is Hip? is more comprehensive, but that's really for serious listeners. For listeners that want a lean dose of the TOP's prime, this is the best collection on the market. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released June 30, 1975 | Warner Records

Tower of Power followed their self-titled gold album with an even better album that didn't enjoy similar sales success. Back to Oakland had tougher, funkier and better-produced cuts, stronger vocals from Lenny Williams (who was more comfortable as their lead singer), and included an excellent ballad in "Time Will Tell," and a rousing tempo in "Don't Change Horses (In the Middle of a Stream)." The Tower of Power horn section reaffirmed its reputation in both soul and pop circles, and the album included a powerhouse instrumental. © Ron Wynn /TiVo
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Pop - Released September 10, 1993 | Warner Records

Tower of Power was very much in its prime in 1974, when the Bay Area outfit tore up the soul charts with the outstanding Urban Renewal. Lenny Williams, a passionate, wailing, gospel-influenced dynamo of a singer, had joined Tower the previous year, and he worked out remarkably well; whether digging into tough funk or romantic ballads, Williams is in top form. Funk doesn't get much more invigorating than horn-driven gems like "Maybe It'll Rub Off," "Give Me the Proof" and "Only So Much Oil in the Ground" (a commentary on the mid-'70s energy crisis), and soul ballads don't get much richer than "Willing to Learn" and "I Won't Leave Unless You Want Me To." Tower (an influence on everyone from L.T.D. to the Average White Band) recorded a number of essential albums in the '70s, and Urban Renewal is at the top of the list. © Alex Henderson /TiVo
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Pop - Released September 12, 1975 | Warner Records

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Pop - Released May 1, 1972 | Warner Records

The second Tower of Power LP, Bump City was the first to make any impact. The group went to Memphis, cut their first great single in "You're Still A Young Man," and learned firsthand about funk and soul. The production and arrangements were much improved over the debut album, as was the engineering and overall technical quality. Their lines were crisper, the unison and ensemble passages much sharper, and they were beginning to round into shape. © Ron Wynn /TiVo
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Funk - Released August 3, 1999 | 550 Music - Legacy

The recordings on Soul Vaccination: Live were made during Tower of Power's 1998 tour. It wasn't a reunion tour, since ToP never really went away, but they nevertheless hauled such staples as "What Is Hip," along with selection from latter-day albums. If Soul Vaccination is to be trusted, it was an enjoyable but not particularly noteworthy jaunt through the states. Nevertheless, ToP's playing was supple and lively enough to make it an enjoyable listen for hardcore fans, even if it's not memorable enough to make its way onto the stereo that often. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Jazz - Released August 8, 1995 | Epic

Tower of Power's Souled Out featured four new members, including a new lead vocalist. However, the change in membership didn't revitalize the band as they churned out the same blend of funk and mid-tempo groovers that they had for years, with only a couple of numbers making any sort of impression. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Jazz - Released April 20, 1993 | Epic

This 1993 effort marked a strong comeback for the group, who started with 1991's Monster on a Leash. T.O.P. continues the formula with great results. The reason for the revitalization can be directly attributed to the energetic, Stevie Wonder-influenced lead singer, Tom Bowes. The hard-driving, James Brown-derived funk of "Soul With a Capital S" and "I Like Your Style" update the band's classic horn-driven sound and is augmented by not only Bowes but Francis "Rocco" Prestia's amazing and soulful bass work. The ballads -- like "Quiet Scream," "Please Come Back to Stay," and arguably the best, "Come to a Decision" -- underscore the fact that this version of Tower of Power was the first in years that was equally adept with slower songs and up-tempo offerings. T.O.P. also has other members doing lead vocal chores. Group co-founder Emilio Castillo leads on the hammy and fun "Come on With It" and guitarist Carmen Grillo assumes lead on the melodic and smooth "You." Former member, saxophonist Lenny "L.P." Pickett, shows up for five tracks. Produced by Castillo, T.O.P. not only made an album to stand with Monster on a Leash, but also other classics like Urban Renewal and Ain't Nothing Stopping Us Now. © Jason Elias /TiVo
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Funk - Released May 21, 1991 | Epic Dance - Legacy

In contrast to the many soul veterans who who have turned to urban contemporary sounds in the hope of staying on the staying on the charts, Tower of Power has stuck with the type of horn-driven, live-sounding funk and soul that put the Bay Area band on the map. Tower was long past its prime by the time Monster on a Leash was released in 1991, and had experienced its share of personnel changes. Lead singer Tom Bowes, although a passionate and competent belter, is hardly on a par with Lenny Williams. Even so, this is a respectable and decent effort from a band that remained artistically viable by staying true to itself. Unapologetically '70s-sounding, the album falls short of the unmitigated excellence of Back to Oakland and Urban Renewal, but isn't significantly different in its approach, content or attitude. While novices would do better to start with either those gems, this is an album that diehard Tower enthusiasts shouldn't pass up. © Alex Henderson /TiVo
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Funk - Released March 26, 2002 | Epic - Legacy

The crucial subtitle missing is that this is the best of Tower of Power on Columbia, not a career-spanning anthology that takes in their material with other labels. Since their most popular stuff was done for Warner Brothers, that creates quite a problem when you're representing this material in particular as their best. With the understanding that this disc is limited to their Columbia catalog, it's a decent selection, through chronologically haphazard, drawing from the '90s, the late '70s, and nothing else. For the most part it's competent funk, a little too heavy on the feets-don't-fail-me now braggadocio, as on "Attitude Dance." Yes, there are versions of their well-known "So Very Hard to Go" and "What Is Hip?," but take caution: these are 1998 live recordings, not the famous originals. There's a previously unreleased alternate mix of "I Love That Girl So Much" from the sessions for their 1979 album, Back on the Streets, and it would be a pretty heavy price to pay for the whole disc just to get that one track, even for insistent completists. Very Best of the Warner Years and the more extensive What Is Hip? remain far better best-of compilations on this band. © Richie Unterberger /TiVo
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Jazz - Released May 11, 1993 | Columbia

Edward McGhee turned in mostly above-average performances on their first post-Lenny Williams release, but it was the beginning of the end. With funk losing its foothold among R&B audiences, they couldn't keep it together. McGhee was an energetic, exuberant vocalist who held his own on up-tempo tunes like "You Ought to Be Havin' Fun" and the title song, but lacked Williams' range or tonal quality on ballads. The group always had a weakness for ponderous message cuts, and "Can't Stand to See the Slaughter" and "While We Went to the Moon" were well-intentioned but clumsy tracks. This was almost the Tower of Power's swan song. © Ron Wynn /TiVo
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Jazz - Released May 11, 1993 | Columbia

By the late '70s, though Tower Of Power was past its initial heyday, the band was not over. Many of its most prominent members like Emilio Castillo, Stephen "Doc" Kupka, Chester Thompson, Bruce Conte, and Mic Gillette were still going strong. Also making significant strides were saxophonist Lenny Pickett and vocalist Michael Jeffries. WE CAME TO PLAY from 1978 showcases the band with plenty of fire, although slight tinges of disco had begun to creep into its otherwise funky style. The sound of the band's recorded output of this period is slicker and more produced than earlier efforts, mostly due to the effects of success and advances in studio know-how. Yet there is still a deep groove underlying each of the cuts, despite the absence of original bassist Rocco Prestia. As evidence, the celebratory opening title cut and the danceable "Yin-Yang Thang" are worthy additions to the band's funky repertoire. And despite some cheesy period strings, ballads like "Bittersweet Soul Music" and "Am I a Fool" are both as musically and emotionally satisfying as any in the Tower Of Power canon. © TiVo
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Jazz - Released September 16, 1997 | Epic

Emilio Castillo, Francis Rocco Prestia, "Doc" Kupka and the boys are back for another session of family- style funk. As in their formative years, Tower of Power lays it down with the idea that more is better. Perhaps as a result of maintaining the same personnel for so many years, the sound here is tight, clean and hard-hitting. Often utilizing groups of singers, and a full horn section, many of the songs transcend the usual "get down and party" message of most funk bands. "Unconditional Love" is about finally growing up enough to love, "Rhythm and Business" about trying to hang onto your heart in a materialistic world. These guys know all there is to know about R & B and on RHYTHM & BUSINESS they combine their musical passion, knowledge and abilities into that one-of-a-kind Tower of Power sound. © TiVo
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Jazz - Released May 11, 1993 | Columbia

Their last LP for Columbia, 1979's Back on the Streets, found Tower of Power once again a disappointment to their fans. After two albums of desultory balladeering, the band still refused to return to their blistering funk roots, choosing instead what they hoped would be a more commercially viable wade into the oceans of disco. It didn't work. With a slick production that's so predictable it's horizontally boring, Tower of Power limped into the R&B charts with the mini-hit "Rock Baby" in August. And it really doesn't get any better from there. Across a batch of mediocre and uneven disco numbers, replete with strings and "sexy" backing vocalists, the band wandered across the absolutely MOR ballad "Heaven Must Have Made You" and the "Chuck E.'s in Love"-esque "And You Know It." It's only when they reach "Nowhere to Run" and the more funk-fueled "Something Calls Me" and "Just Make a Move (And Be Yourself)" that they show any glimmers of their earlier, powerful prowess. Ultimately, crippled by the rotating roster of players, producers, and hangers-on, Tower of Power just doesn't pull through -- at all. Back on the Streets put the band straight on the back burner, where, at the time, most people felt they belonged. © Amy Hanson /TiVo
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Soul - Released March 20, 2020 | Artistry Music

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Soul - Released June 1, 2018 | Artistry Music

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Soul - Released April 14, 2017 | Artistry Music

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Jazz - Released April 5, 2007 | Sheffield Lab

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Soul - Released April 14, 2017 | Artistry Music