Sunday, 5 August 2018

Tower Of Power - Bump City (1972)


 

Released in 1972

Tower Of Power were a multi-racial, multi-instrumental US funk/r'n'b group that formed in the late sixties/early seventies. Their sound was based around their vibrant horn section, thumping drums and a big, throbbing bass. The sound quality on this remastered album is excellent - full and warm.

TRACK LISTING

1. You Got To Funkifize
2. What Happened To The World That Day?
3. Flash In The Pan
4. Gone
5. You Strike My Main Nerve
6. Down To The Nightclub
7. You're Still A Young Man
8. Skating On Thin Ice
9. Of The Earth

"You Got To Funkifize" is a magnificent slab of driving, brassy, pulsating seventies funk. "What Happened To The World That Day?" is a much lighter, soulful and breezy number, with a catchy hook and some melodious, smooth backing horns. The vocal is impressive, in a laid-back soul way. It is a much less attacking, punchy track than the previous one, but it again has a sublime bass line and a real appeal to it. It is a bit reminiscent of some of the material on Blood, Sweat & Tears' "Child Is Father To The Man". "Flash In The Pan" is a driving piece of jazzy, funk rock with an exhilarating rhythm to it. Once again, the hooks, both vocal and brass are intoxicating. There is also an upbeat  bluesy feel to this in places. The vocalist on this one is gruffer and more earthy than the lighter one on the previous track. Rick Stevens is created as lead vocalist, although several others are credited with vocals as well. It may be Stevens on both tracks, just singing in a different style, but they certainly sound different. Indeed, listen to the next track, the early Chicago-ish "Gone", a tender, flute-driven slow ballad. The vocals on there are definitely different, credited to Skip Mesquite. I am sure it is also him on "What Happened...". There is some seriously good trumpet on this track too.

The pure, down 'n' dirty funk is back on "You Strike My Main Nerve", which has a feel of The Meters or War about it. There were so many great funk/rock/soul bands around in the early/mid seventies. Add Sly & The Family Stone, The Ohio Players and Graham Central Station to those already referenced and you have some cookin' groups. Another such cooker is the funk of "Down To The Night Club". Yes, its a bit commercial in its lyrics but its rhythm is pretty irresistible. Willy De Ville cut a track many years later called "Jump City" that owes a lot to this, I am sure.

"You're Still A Young Man" has a delicious horn intro and another of the light, soully, laid-back harmonious vocals. It has hints of Heatwave's later "Always And Forever" to it. The influences of this album were far and wide, I am sure. "Skating On Thin Ice" has such a beat that it could almost be a Northern Soul track, it could be a floor filler, but I'm not sure it ever was. Either way it is energetic and supremely soulful. (Actually, I see it is listed on the Northern Soul 45s website). "Of The Earth" is an ecologically-conscious, hard-hitting closer, getting its message over about pollution convincingly, over a funky, brassy and flute-enhanced backing. This album really is a breath of fresh air. I am playing it on a summer Sunday morning. It is ideal. Great stuff.

B

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