With almost 40 years of recording and touring experience behind them, Tower of Power still garners reviews calling them a "very contemporary sounding band." Melding jazz, funk, rock and soul in a way no group ever has, the ten-piece outfit is, as a recent Hollywood Reporter review called them "tighter than a clenched fist."
Well known in the 70's for tunes such as "What is Hip?" and "You're Still a Young Man," Tower of Power toured with Sly Stone and Creedence Clearwater Revival, creating traffic jams when they started to headline their own shows. They performed on records with the likes of Elton John, Smokey Robinson, Rod Stewart and Dionne Warwick, and influenced a generation of musicians (including Sting, who has told Emilio Castillo, founder of the group, that he once had a "Tower of Power clone band" before he formed The Police).
It has always been difficult to describe TOP's music; even band members, when asked, give a myriad of responses. Says founding member and saxophonist Emilio Castillio, "What Tower plays is urban soul music." Former lead singer Brent Carter calls it "old school funk with new school flavor." And says former Tower saxophonist Lenny Pickett, now musical director for the Saturday Night Live television band, "TOP is the world's greatest rhythm and blues band." In reality, Tower of Power's horn driven, in-your-face sound is all its own, and verbal descriptions fail. You have to experience it for yourself, and then, as Tower fans say, "seein is believin'.
Tower went through a down period in the 80's, but never disbanded and kept performing. In 1991, the group made its first of a series of recordings for Epic/Sony, titled Monster on a Leash. This has been followed by two more studio recordings, Souled Out and Rhythm & Business, as well as a live recording, Soul Vaccination: Live!. Even more recently, Tower released a 2-CD retrospective on Rhino records, titled What Is Hip?. In late 2001, Warner Brothers released a single CD retrospective, Tower of Power: The Best of the Warner Years.
When not in studio, the band tours constantly, crisscrossing the world, selling out shows at venues from rock halls and theatres to sheds and giant festivals. Staunch fans travel miles and hours to see them; some of those fans plan their vacations to coincide with Tower performances. As if that wasn't enough, in between all those tour dates, the Tower of Power Horn Section has somehow found the time to guest on records for a very diverse group of artists from Michael Bolton to Phish.
Over the past few years Tower of Power has added new members and a fresh outlook, but the band has always remained true to itself and to its soul music roots, never failing to please audiences. As a reviewer from the Fort Worth Star Telegram recently wrote, "If you see someone sitting still at a Tower of Power concert, don't bother checking their pulse -- they're already dead!"