If one were to look at the entire American musical spectrum and start to list the most influential bands of the last half-century, one would be hard-pressed to find one more influential than the multi-racial Oakland-based powerhouse of a group known as Tower of Power.
Formed in 1968, the band’s energetic and invigorating mixture of r&b, soul, jazz, funk, rock, and pop had an undeniable and indomitable influence upon countless musical acts of the seventies and eighties, most notably the musical force of nature known to the world as Prince.
While it would of course be erroneous to say that the band was his only influence, it is hard to listen to Prince’s freewheeling and inventive musical jams both on his albums and during his live shows and not hear ToP’s enormous musical footprint.
The band’s latest album 50 Years of Funk & Soul: Live at the Fox Theater, recorded over two nights in June 2018, their fiftieth year, gives testament to their musical genius and stands as a living and breathing audio document to their greatness.
While displaying their superlative musicianship and the band’s amazing ability to effortlessly shift between multiple genres (sometimes during the same song), the 22 songs on this collection make up what will undoubtedly be considered one of the best live albums of the last few years.
While it is hard to single out particular stand out performances on an album that is brimming with stand out performances, personal favorites of mine include ”Soul Vaccination,” “What Is Hip,” “Can’t You See,” “Squib Cakes,” “Soul Side Of Town,” “Diggin’ On James Brown (Medley),” and “Souled Out.”
Give this monster of an album a listen my dear reader and it is my opinion that you will discover your own favorites as well as hearing one of the all-time great American bands.
50 Years of Funk & Soul: Live at the Fox Theater (Artistry Music) is now available on the band’s website.