Tower of Power have been performing since 1968, and will be celebrating their 50th anniversary at this special show. You can expect to hear all of their greatest hits, including You’re Still a Young Man, So Very Hard to Go, What Is Hip?, and Don’t Change Horses (in the Middle of a Stream).
There’s a reason why Tower of Power remain one of the most legendary outfits under the soul genre. With over 50 years under their belt, these pioneers have been creating unstoppable hits for decades.
Tower of Power’s history is extensive; they have produced over 30 studio releases and live albums as well as collaborated with some of music’s biggest bands and names. Ahead of their visit to Town Hall this May, Town Hall Symphony Hall looks back at some of the coolest collaborations from their music career. Having been featured on songs with artists like Santana, Grateful Dead, Phish, and even P. Diddy, it’s no wonder they stand out as one of the most pivotal soul powerhouses.
1. “We Gon’ Make It” on Press Play by P. Diddy
Diving into hip-hop in the early 00s, Tower of Power stepped in the studio with P. Diddy for three tracks. “We Gon’ Make It,” jumps right in with the crisp horns that boost the track’s energy tenfold. The horns also enhance the richness of the track “I Am (Interlude),” and the same can be said for “Everything I Love,” which features Cee-Lo Green and Nas.
2. “The Bitch is Back” on Caribou by Elton John
Elton John’s remarkable 8 studio album Caribou was recorded in a quick 9 days just before he embarked on a tour in Japan and features Tower of Power on 3 out of 14 songs! The hit single, The Bitch is Back, featured the uplifting Tower of Power horn section, soaring the song to the number 4 spot on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. It even included John Lennon on the tambourine! Despite having pushback from airing on radio stations due to the profanity in the song title, it had no trouble reaching a large and accepting audience.
3. “Spanish Moon” on Feats Don’t Fail Me Now by Little Feat
Tower of Power’s rich sounding horns join the funky foundation that Little Feat established on this track, making for a mighty combination. The groups continued to play together for many years, including features on Little Feat albums Time Loves A Hero, the well received Waiting for Columbus, Hoy-Hoy (Greatest Hits), and Hotcakes & Outtakes. Relive their epic collaboration with this performance of “Spanish Moon” in 1977 at Rainbow Theatre London:
4. “Hard to Handle (with Etta James)” live at Oakland Auditorium by Grateful Dead
Showing up to play alongside the Grateful Dead and Etta James, Tower of Power ignites the tune into action with swaggering horns. This rendition of Otis Redding’s “Hard to Handle” is much different than most of Grateful Dead’s live versions and certainly adds a different level of energy. It is rare to hear multiple legends on one stage together pay homage to a pioneer like Otis Redding. Etta James was the perfect compliment to Tower of Power’s horns and Grateful Dead’s iconic sound.
5. “Born Under a Bad Sign” and “Moanin’ Lisa Blues” on Sing the Blues by The Simpsons
The Simpsons cast gathered together with a number of well known musicians to record various covers and originals from the television show. “Born Under a Bad Sign,” originally by Albert King, featured the voice of the character Homer Simpson, B.B. King on guitar, and the horn section of Tower of Power. The track was full of soul with plethora of horn solos, like most Tower of Power tunes. “Moanin’ Lisa Blues,” was also recorded in the studio with Tower of Power, and an improvisation of the song can be heard in Episode 6 of Season 1 with Bleeding Gums Murphy and the character Lisa Simpson.
6. “Tangled and Dark” on Luck of the Draw by Bonnie Raitt
Bonnie Raitt’s Luck of the Draw became one of her best selling records to date, and she clearly proved her songwriting magic was still relevant as she reeled in three Grammys. Tower of Power members contributed slow swelling horns on the track “Tangled and Dark.”