Three five-star funk tunes and a couple of typically sappy T
K. Swanson | Austin, TX United States | 12/30/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Not sure how this can be called the "greatest live album ever" when two of the five tracks are just more of the cheesy ballads that dilute and pollute every TOP record.
That said, the other three tunes are indeed absolutely killing. Hip is smokin', Nightclub bumps like mad, and the epic funk jam of Knock Yourself Out is a real winner. KYO features Garibaldi drumming his butt off and Rocco locked in tight, playing super-funky lines that only Jaco and a few others have ever matched. Some awesome grooving on those three tunes, with Conte keeping it sweet
But even then, not every horn solo blows my mind or even blows me away. Some of them are just blowing, which is great for a while but sooner or later some head/melody sure is nice. Which is why, for instance, the Feats' Columbus of the next year ('77) is to me a much better live album than this. It's completely solid from start to finish (helped by TOP's horns doing what they do best: ensemble lines. I just don't think their solos come close to their chart work).
Living Color has some huge peaks of energy, but it also has two real troughs in Young Man and Sparkling. Even on their live albums, TOP couldn't help but cater to the ballad lovers instead of playing 100% funk, something they did as well as any band ever with the exception of the JBs, Sly's early Graham phase, and Prince's best groups. Those two tunes are nice and all, but just waste space that should be filled with Don't Change Horses, Soul Vaccination, the killer Oakland Stroke, or any two of their other dozen funk classics that they've always killed live.
So yeah, the three funk tunes here are priceless, but padded by two typically cheesy ballads that TOP could just never seem to let go, commercially viable filler that they are.
Oh well. Yet another TOP album where I took the best tracks and added them to the all-funk TOP mix cd that they themselves should have been putting out all along. I'm sure I'll get plenty of negs for this one (how dare I be the only non-five star review?!), but I invite anyone to explain in the comments how those two weak tunes are anything but boring pap that lowers the level of an otherwise stellar funk session."
Beware: 2/3 of this disk is potentially filler
John Palmer | Scarsdale, NY United States | 06/14/2010
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Many reviewers of this disk think it's phenomenal.
To my taste it is not.
Three great songs -- Down to the Nightclub, What is Hip? and Still a Young Man -- clock in at just over 14 minutes of this 45 minute CD.
Two mediocre tunes -- Sparkling in the Sand and Knock Yourself Out -- clock in at just over 31 minutes. So, if you don't like these tunes, approximately 2/3's of this album is "filler." Actually, for me, these tunes didn't even make it onto my iTunes Tower of Power collection.
"Sparkling" is a mid tempo piece of romantic pop: not a Tower of Power strong point.
Knock Yourself Out is an overly long jam. I don't think the quality of the solos is so consistently great throughout that it is worth 23(!) minutes of repeat listening time. Ultimately, extended jam tracks, from Cream to Coltrane, get a bit tedious for all but the most die hard fans. Not liking this tune alone means that I don't like more than 50% of this disk.
Think about it; are you going to want to play this disk, end-to-end knowing that every time you do, there will be a 23 minute extended jam song? If not, then you just paid full price for half a CD.
I much prefer the other Tower of Power live album, "Soul Vaccination: Live." More good shorter songs means more of what Tower of Power is great at: razor-sharp, super-fine funk arrangements with the gold standard funk horn section and the best bass/drums battery in the business with Francis Rocco Prestia and David Garibaldi."