With a landmark 50th anniversary album, 2018’s Soul Side of Town, still visible in their rearview mirror, one would think Tower of Power (or TOP, as it is more often referred to by its global legion of fans), the much-lauded creators of their own horn-based, hybrid brand of East Bay soul/funk/R&B/rock, would take a well-deserved breather. But that is not in the band’s DNA, nor that of its founder and ringmaster, tenor saxophonist and bandleader Emilio Castillo.
Beginning with East Bay Grease, their 1970 album debut on legendary impresario Bill Graham’s San Francisco Records, the tireless unit has released 26 albums, been responsible for such classic hit tracks as “What Is Hip?,” “You’re Still a Young Man,” “So Very Hard To Go” and “Down To The Nightclub,” among so many others. TOP’s horn section, the heart of the band, have long been sought after sidemen, appearing on recordings by top artists ranging from Elton John, Aerosmith and Bonnie Raitt to Otis Redding, Santana and Heart. TOP paved the way for other high-powered brass rock/R&B hit artists of the 70s like Chicago, Earth, Wind & Fire and Blood, Sweat & Tears.
Now, with their latest album release available on both on CD and LP, Step Up, the band forges on into the next decade of the 21st century, keeping to its continuous hardcore tour schedule (200 days a year!) and ongoing reinvigoration with the continual addition of new talent, most notably the phenomenal young lead vocalist, Marcus Scott, among many others. Marcus replaced TOP’s longtime lead singer, Ray Greene, who makes his final appearance with the band on Step Up. Also taking his bows on the new album is 30-year TOP veteran bassist Francis ‘Rocco’ Prestia, who is stepping back from life on the road and whose driving fingerstyle funk is ably replaced on tour by Marc Van Wageningen.