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Tower of Power

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The renowned horn-driven funk outfit Tower of Power have been issuing albums and touring the world steadily since the early '70s, in addition to backing up countless other musicians. The group's leader since the beginning has always been tenor saxophonist Emilio Castillo, who was born in Detroit but opted to pursue his musical dreams in Oakland, California. It was in Oakland that Castillo put together a group called the Motowns, which, as their name suggested, specialized in '60s-era soul. In 1967, Castillo teamed up with baritone sax player Stephen "Doc" Kupka, and soon the Motowns were transformed into Tower of Power. (One of the first tunes the duo penned together was "You're Still a Young Man," which would eventually go on to be one of Tower of Power's signature compositions.) Tower of Power played regularly in the Bay Area throughout the late '60s, as their lineup often swelled up to ten members, including such other mainstays as Greg Adams on trumpet and vocals, Lenny Pickett on sax, and Rocco Prestia on bass. By 1970, the funk outfit had inked a recording contract with Bill Graham's San Francisco Records, resulting in the group's debut the same year, East Bay Grease, which failed to make an impression on the charts as Tower of Power were still trying to find their own sound. But it soon came together for the group, as 1972's Bump City would touch off a string of classic hit albums, including 1973's self-titled release (which introduced vocalist Lenny Williams and included another of the group's most enduring tunes, "What Is Hip?"), 1974's Back to Oakland, and 1975's Urban Renewal and In the Slot. While Tower of Power remained a must-see live act, as disco became the new trend in R&B the group's original funk-laden style fell out of favor, and disco-oriented albums like 1978's We Came to Play and 1979's Back on the Streets didn't please critics or fans, and the band would go nine years without releasing an album. Despite it all, Tower of Power -- in particular their horn section -- remained a much in-demand backing group for some of pop/rock's biggest names, including Elton John, Santana, Bonnie Raitt, Huey Lewis, Little Feat, David Sanborn, Michelle Shocked, Paula Abdul, Aaron Neville, Aerosmith, Public Image Ltd., and many others. In 1988, Tower of Power returned to the studio for the album Power, and in 1991 they signed with Epic Records, where they released five albums by the end of the decade. Into the new millennium, Tower of Power kept up their reputation as a strong live band, maintaining a steady touring schedule, and in 2009 they launched their own TOP Records label with The Great American Soulbook, in which they covered a dozen soul and R&B classics in the trademark Tower of Power style. In 2007, Tower of Power celebrated their fourth decade together with a special concert at San Francisco's Fillmore Auditorium, and a year later the show was issued in a special CD/DVD package, simply titled 40th Anniversary. In 2013, Tower of Power took a look back with the release of Hipper Than Hip: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow, which documented a live radio broadcast from 1974. The bandmembers also announced they would be touring in 2013 and 2014 with two other iconic acts from Northern California, Journey and the Steve Miller Band. ~ Greg Prato & Steve Leggett
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Albums by
Tower of Power

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    12 songs

    On Air

    Great American Soulbook

    14 songs

    On Air

    The Oakland Zone

    10 songs

    On Air

    Direct

    13 songs

    On Air

    Rhythm & Business

    12 songs

    On Air

    Souled Out

    12 songs

    On Air

    In the Slot

    11 songs

    On Air

    Urban Renewal

    10 songs

    On Air

    Ain't Nothin' Stoppin' Us Now

    14 songs

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    T.O.P.

    12 songs

    On Air

    Monster on a Leash

    11 songs

    On Air

    Back to Oakland

    6 songs

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    East Bay Grease

    9 songs

    On Air

    Bump City

    9 songs

    On Air

    Back on the Streets

    9 songs

    On Air

    We Came to Play!

    5 songs

    On Air

    Rhino Hi-Five: Tower of Power

    14 songs

    On Air

    Soul with a Capital "S": The Best of Tower of Power

    16 songs

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    The Very Best of Tower of Power: The Warner Years

    29 songs

    On Air

    40th Anniversary: The Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco

    15 songs

    On Air

    Soul Vaccination: Tower of Power Live

    10 songs

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    Tower of Power

    5 songs

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    Live and in Living Color

    18 songs

    On Air

    The East Bay Archive, Vol. 1

    38 songs

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    3CD Slipcase

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Top Songs by
Tower of Power

  1.   Song
    Popularity
  2.   What Is Hip?
  3.   So Very Hard to Go
  4.   Soul Vaccination
  5.   You're Still a Young Man
  6.   Don't Change Horses (In the Middle of a Stream)
  7.   Spank-A-Dang
  8.   This Time It's Real
  9.   Only So Much Oil in the Ground
  10.   I Like Your Style
  11.   Souled Out
  12.   Could've Done It Better
  13.   Cruise Control
  14.   South of the Boulevard
  15.   Diggin' on James Brown
  16.   So I Got to Groove
  17.   Happy 'Bout That
  18.   Nowhere to Run
  19.   Keep Comin' Back
  20.   Our Love
  21.   Once You Get A Taste
  22.   Squib Cakes
  23.   Eastside
  24.   Simple as That
  25.   Yin-Yang Yhang
  26. See All Songs

Stations & Shows Featuring
Tower of Power

    On Air

    Acid Jazz

    On Air

    Funk

    On Air

    Jimi Hendrix: DNA

    On Air

    Chicano Old School

    On Air

    Funk Classics

    On Air

    Modern Jazz

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    Old School R&B

    On Air

    '70s Hits

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    '70s Deep Dive

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    Disco Deep Dive


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