Published Mar 27, 2020After more than a half-a-century as a sizzling, syncopated groove machine, Oakland's legendary Tower of Power aren't out to reinvent themselves on their latest offering. And that's definitely not a bad thing.
Written, arranged and recorded during the same six-year period that yielded 2018's Soul Side of Town, the 14 tracks that comprise Step Up sound anything but laboured. With a revolving cast of musicians that have come and gone, founders Emilio Castillo and Stephen "Doc" Kupka, and mainstays Dave Garibaldi and (the non-touring) Francis "Rocco" Prestia, remain a constant, as does ToP's vibrant, horn-soaked vitality.
Uplifting cuts like the title track and "Look In My Eyes" are dazzling displays of rhythmic dexterity, the latter a near flawless showcase of interplay between vets Garibaldi and Prestia and keyboardist Roger Smith, topped with a scintillating horn section. Yet, this wouldn't be a Tower of Power album without the requisite slow jams and the earnest "Who Would Have Thought?" and "Sleeping With You Baby" (both featuring the velvety vocals of Marcus Scott) will have you holding your baby, your blunt or your bottle. (Mack Avenue Records)