Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Tower Of Power - Back To Oakland (1974)

Below us, all the city lights....


Released May 1974

After their second album, the eponymous Tower of Power, built their reputation as horn-driven funkers, this follow up album delivered more of the same, although, strangely, it wasn't as successful, commercially. It is still packed full of red hot brassy, upbeat fun, however, with some smoochy soul thrown in too.


1. ...Oakland Stroke
2. Don't Change Horses (In The Middle Of A Stream)
3. Just When We Started Makin' It
4. Can't You See (You're Doin' Me Wrong)
5. Squib Cakes
6. Time Will Tell
7. Man From The Past
8. Love's Been Gone So Long
9. I Got The Chop
10. Below Us, All The City Lights
11. Oakland Stroke...                                                    

The album is bookended by two lively, jazzy semi instrumentals in ...Oakland Stroke and Oakland Stroke..., (differentiated by the full stops before and after). In between we get a lively mix of cooking funk and sweet soul.

Don't Change Horses (In The Middle Of A Stream) is rousing and brassy with the horn section simply confirming its respected reputation. Just When We Start Makin' It continues in laid-back soulful fashion, with a touch of quirky jazz-funk near the end. Next up is the soul funk of groove of Can't You See (You're Doin' Me Wrong), while Squib Cakes brings the funk back with a simmering, extended, seven minutes-plus instrumental workout full of shuffling Blaxploitation funky jazz rhythms.

Time Will Tell is a sweet, slow tempo slice of typical, orchestrated seventies soul. Man From The Past is a delicious piece of bassy, rumbling, Stax-y soul/funk, with hints of The Undisputed Truth, in places, for me. Simply great stuff and surprising that it was not huge, to be honest. It is that good. The funk is cooking hot at times, particularly in the guitar/percussion interplay half way through. Love's Been Gone So Long gives us a soully feel, but with a bit more of a brassy punch. I Got The Chop is an energetic number, full of horns, funky guitar and soulful vocals.

Below Us, All The City Lights is a sumptuous soul ballad in a laid-back Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes style to end the album with - this has been an impressive collection of seventies funk and soul that is well worth checking out.


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