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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Tower of Power

The Oakland Zone

Review by Gary Hill

In the day Tower of Power were one of the biggies in funk and soul music. This group nearly ruled supreme over the style. Well, they are here to reclaim the crown, and they are doing it in fine fashion. Although there is not a huge stylistic difference to much of this material, they make each cut shine. None of them are what I would consider weak, and it is really hard to pick out one or two that stand heads above the rest. That's how potent this disc is. If you never checked these guys out in the day, and enjoy good funk and R & B, by all means, don't waste any more time. If you were a fan way back when, it's time to get back into the fold.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2004 Year Book Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Eastside
This smoking fast cut has a killer funk texture and the horns absolutely wail. This is a very short piece.
Give Me Your Love
Feeling more soulful than the last one, this another smoker, but it's a little lower energy than the opener. This has a killer jam in the middle of the track.
Get What You Want
Starting with just percussion and a percussive vocal line, as the band kicks in, this becomes a killer funk groove. This one has an awesome vocal arrangement and really scorches. A jazzy interlude serves as a centerpiece/bridge to the track and a change to a smooth jazz verse later is a great transition.
Could've Done It Better
This starts more bluesy, guitar laying down a tasty solo structure. This one has a classic old school R & B texture as it shifts to the verse segment. It features a dynamite retro sound. The horns find the chance to really wail out at times on this one.
This Type of Funk
Starting almost metallic, this quickly shifts to a major funk invasion. It is another strong cut and shows that the group is capable of a lot of different sounds. The instrumental breaks on this one are particularly meaty.
Pocketful of Soul
This soulful cut is another killer funky jam.
Remember Love
A slow classic R & B groove, this has a great texture.
Oakland Zone
More faithful funk, this one is a killer groove. It is another with a great vocal performance. It also has some wonderful horn expressions, too.
Life Is What You Make It
This is a more lighthearted jam that to me files a bit like War's "Why Can't We Be Friends" at first. It shifts towards a more funky texture as it carries forward, though. "Life is what you make it, so make it funky" - you just can't get much cooler than that!
Happy 'Bout That
This groove has a killer classic texture and awesome vocal arrangement.

Stranger in My Own House
The lyrics here lend a slightly spooky texture to this groove that really rocks. It includes a very meaty keyboard solo.

Back In the Day
"Back in the Day" is based in an awesome bluesy funk style.
Page One
Featuring some screaming instrumental work, this one doesn't wander far from the framework of classic funk, but the group really make it fly.
Eastside
This short jam is a little more jazzy than the rest.
 
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