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Inak presents
Tower of Power in Concert (1998)

"What's hip today, might become passé."
- Tower of Power

Review By: Jeff Rosado  
Published: October 29, 2003

Stars: Emilio Castillo, Stephen "Doc" Kupka, Francis "Rocco" Prestia, David Garibaldi, Brent Carter, Jeff Tamelier, Borbert Stachel, Jessie McGuire, Bill "Churchy" Churchville, Nick Millo
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 00h:56m:49s
Release Date: October 07, 2003
UPC: 707787651899
Genre: music

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- A-AA- D+

DVD Review

Though not intended or labeled as such, Tower of Power in Concert is a rather appropriate DVD release as 2003 marks the 35th anniversary of the self-proclaimed ministers of "Bump City" (a.k.a. Oakland, California). Formed in 1968 by fellow saxophonists Emilio Castillo and Stephen "Doc" Kupka, the group took awhile to get out of the chute, at least commercially. While fellow horn bands like Chicago and Blood Sweat and Tears were amassing gold records and high chart placings, ToP quietly carved out a niche for themselves via a tasty melding of jazz, pop, soul, and funk. Eventually, the group's small but devoted following got the word out and in 1973, ToP finally landed a series of successful Top 30 albums and even a couple of radio-friendly hits (So Very Hard to Go, Don't Change Horses). But with the departure of lead vocalist Lenny Williams, a series of increasingly uninspired follow-ups and line-up alterations, the group's thunder was stolen by the likes of more commercial upstarts like Average White Band and Brass Construction.

But there was no time for moping, for Tower of Power's reputation in their heyday proved profitably consoling. Over the last three decades, their instrumental services (both collectively and on individually) have been utilized by many of the industry's heavy hitters, including Elton John, Linda Rondstadt, Bonnie Raitt, Aerosmith, and Ray Charles. In recent years, the band has found its footing creatively and re-established its core rhythm section, with drummer David Garibaldi returning to the fold in 1998.

It's from this time frame In Concert originates, a nearly hour-long set recorded for the renowned German musical program, Ohne Filter. Featuring a good cross-selection of tracks ranging from recent albums (Rhythm & Business, Souled Out) to some of their best remembered material from their initial prime at Warner Bros. (Bump City, Tower of Power), the band's musical riches overflow. Generosity is one of ToP's trademarks and everyone gets a chance to shine with brief but compactly compelling solos, particularly from saxophonists Kupka and Castillo, along with the dual threat trumpet combination of Jessie Maguire and Bill "Churchy" Churchville. Soulful vocals from Brent Carter continue ToP's tradition of fine front men, carrying on the tradition of past soul shouters Edward McGee, Tom Bowles, and charter member Lenny Williams on great renditions of What Is Hip, You Strike My Main Nerve, and Soul Vaccination. Castillo also grabs a turn at the mike via a well written, smoothly performed ode to one of his heroes, Diggin' on James Brown.

If there's a shortcoming to In Concert, it's that you wind up wanting more; So Very Hard to Go is among a few notable tunes missing in action. The program suddenly fades during a rousing wind up to So I Got to Groove (although this is where credits most likely rolled on the original broadcast). Still, the show is a solid offering for one of the industry's most respected bands, sounding better than ever.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Rationo

Image Transfer Review: Those who have been collecting Inak's prior releases from the Ohne Filter performance library know that the show is renowned for its technical superiority; Tower of Power in Concert continues the trend. Being of more recent vintage (1998), video quality is very impressive for a pre-high-def presentation with vivid colors, little to no video noise or grain and excellent detail.

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Of the two audio tracks, I prefer the original stereo mix encoded in PCM. Imaginatively rendered with excellent separation as trumpets blare to the left, keyboards, saxophones, and guitar riffs emerge from the right with vocals, bass and drums sharing both channels. Sometimes, brass-oriented music can come off as shrill, but not the case here at all; this is a very well done, finely equalized mastering job. Although some may like the hall ambience of the 5.1 mix, I found it too gimicky, lacking the purity and immediacy of its original incarnation.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Music/Song Access with 11 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian with remote access
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Text Biography
  2. Ohne Filter A-Z Show Listing
Extras Review: Thumbs up for the brief but Cliff Notes-esque bio of the band, but other than an A-Z listing of performers on Filter and the now standard background pieces on the program's dedication to technical superiority, the bonus well is dry.

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

Lace up your dancing shoes and make some room in front of your A/V set up. You'll need it during Tower of Power in Concert, another stellar musical DVD taken from the archives of Ohne Filter that maintains the high audio and visual standards of past releases from Inak.


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