The Tower of Power has been hip on the music scene for over five decades.
Originating in Oakland, California in 1968, the band would go on to pen some of the most infectious funk and R&B in the ‘70s. Though their commercial fortunes wanned when the ‘70s became the ‘80s, Tower of Power never disappeared and continued to inflict their brand of infectious funk on the masses.
So as Tower of Power ready themselves to play before a packed crowd at the Jazz Aspen Snowmass June Experience (click here for tickets), here are the top 10 best songs from a band that will forever be hip.
By 1976, the star power of Tower of Power was waning a bit; but that didn’t mean that they were suddenly making bad music. They were still at the top of their game style-wise, and “You Ought to Be Havin’ Fun,” a joyous single about enjoying life, was proof of that.
The grittiness of Tower of Power was what made their signature sound, especially in their early years. One of the best examples of this was 1970’s “Back On the Streets Again,” which melded their killer horn section with the gritty funk and socially conscious lyrics.
One you lay your ears to Tower of Power’s magnificent sound, it won’t let you go. “This Time It’s Real.” which has the touch of the Motown sound of the ‘60s., is one of those singles that you would want to listen to on repeat, and you’ll never tire of it either.
At their heart, Tower of Power was a gifted R&B band that laced their sound with the emerging funk sound of the early ‘70s; but like many of the R&B and funk bands of the time, they could also do some real damage in the ballad arena, and “You’re Still a Young Man,” which pleaded to a women that he wasn’t naive when it came to love, is one of the best ballads you’ll ever lay ears on.
The gospel piano is what really makes this single a point of pride in funk music. “Don’t Change Horses (In the Middle of a Stream)” was a single that prodded listeners to not change up your path in life. The single was powerful and will inspire you to strive for the best.
As mentioned earlier, TOP was an R&B band who could also get funky when it counted. That moment came on “Down to the Nightclub,” a West Coast funk workout that was bumping in the nightclubs back in the day, and continue to be a hot tune for blue night basement parties.
Another early single that found the band pinning down their sound, “Sparkling In the Sand” is one of Tower of Power’s finest moments. Even from the outset, the band proved that they could create a beautiful love ballad that speaks to the heart.
Another powerful ballad from one of the best ballad bands of early '70s funk, “Time Will Tell” found Tower of Power reaching deep into their soul to pull out this emotional ballad that may have you diving for the tissue box.
One of Tower of Power’s most well-known tracks, “What Is Hip?” was one of the songs that put the band on top of the R&B/funk universe in the early ‘70s. Their gritty, urban sound combined with Lenny Williams’ equally gritty lyrics was a single that will forever stand the test of time.
While the aforementioned nine tracks all proved why Tower of Power was one of the best bands of the ‘70s., there was one track that stood above them all. That track was “So Very Hard to Go,” one of the best R&B ballads you’ll ever here and will forever be the best track that the boys from Oakland have ever recorded.