Tower of Power turned 40 in 2008, but the group is commemorating the anniversary with two special releases — an album and DVD — in the new year.
The venerable R&B/rock outfit expects to release “The Great American Soulbook” during the first quarter of 2009 on its own Tower of Power Records imprint. As the title suggests. it’s a collection of covers, ranging from obscurities (Stevie Wonder’s “You Met Your Match”) to well-known favorites.
“We really didn’t want to do it,” saxophonist and group co-founder Emilio Castillo tells Billboard.com, crediting manager Pat Rains with pushing the idea. “We were like, ‘Yeah, yeah, everybody’s doing that.’ We don’t like chasing trends. But we got about a third of the way through and started thinking, ‘Boy, this is gonna be really cool,’ and it turned out really good.”
Tower of Power tapped several of its famous friends to be part of the album. Joss Stone duets with band vocalist Larry Braggs on Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston’s “It Takes Two” and Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s “Your Precious Love.” Huey Lewis sings Wilson Pickett’s “634-5789 (Soulsville, U.S.A.),” Tom Jones works out on Sam & Dave’s “I Thank You” and Sam Moore steps up for Otis Redding’s Mr. “Pitiful.”
Other tracks on the album include Aretha Franklin’s “(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You’ve Been Gone,” Billy Paul’s “Me and Mrs. Jones” and Tavares’ “Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel,” as well as a four-song James Brown tribute. George Duke produced four of the album’s tracks, while Castillo helmed the other 10.
The DVD, meanwhile, comes from Tower of Power’s 40th anniversary show in October at the Fillmore in San Francisco. Sam Moore sang with the group that night, and a number of former members — including Santana keyboardist Chester Thompson, Greg Adams and Mic Gillette — were on hand for the party. “It was really a lot of fun,” Castillo recalls. “It too me about three weeks just to come down.”
Monster Cable will be sponsoring and distributing the DVD, promoting it at retail kiosks it maintains around the country.