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Classic Rock: the Hollies, Tower of Power, Vanilla Fudge

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THE HOLLIES: Reunion (CD on Fuel 2000 Records)

This CD from 2004 features 69 minutes of classic songs recorded live at King’s Island in Cincinnati, Ohio, on September 2, 1983.

This current Hollies consist of: Allan Clarke, Graham Nash, Tony Hicks, and Bobby Elliot, with Steve Stroud, Alan Coates, Pete Anderson, and Paul Bliss.

Included are many of the band’s popular hits, like “On a Carousel”, “Bus Stop”, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”, “Carrie Anne”, and “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress”, along with a special rendition of Crosby, Stills, & Nash’s “Teach Your Children”.

The performance documented on this CD exemplifies the Hollies soft-edged energy. Strong melodies crafted by expert musicians, delivered with a fondness that is shared by both band and audience. Guitars strum and bass growls softly and drums patter away and keyboards sweep. The instruments blend with effortless ease, generating a lilting voyage into the past by way of the present. Folk sensibilities collide with pop culture with rewarding results. Multiple voices harmonize into a single trembling vocal thread that embodies an ensemble feeling.

Yesterday settles into the modern age with satisfying results.

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TOWER OF POWER: Oakland Zone (CD on Or Music)

This release from 2003 offers 61 minutes of undying funk.

These days, Tower of Power’s line-up includes: Mike Bogart, Adolfo Acosta, Jeff Tamelier, Emilio Castillo, Roger Smith, Francis Rocco Prestia, Stephen Kupka, Tom Politzer, Larry Braggs, and David Garibaldi.

Fusing soul, rock, and jazz, Tower of Power are the embodiment of funk to many. Their tireless touring and steady stream of albums over the years (this one is their 28th release) have earned the band a place in the hearts of several generations. Their dedication to enticing funk is as strong as ever.

A bevy of horns wail and pounce with chords that drench the audience with fun-time. The percussion delivers constantly changing rhythms that captivate the feet with appealing rhythms. Guitar riffs snake with snickety effect through the exotic mix. Sultry bass oozes like nebulous honey. Vocals outline verbiage that excellently blends with the surging melodies.

This music delivers a pastoral flair to an urban setting, producing a rollicking dose of jubilation that taints the listener with strong optimism.

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VANILLA FUDGE: Then and Now (CD on Fuel 2000 Records)

This release from 2004 features 77 minutes of classic rock.

This reformed Vanilla Fudge consists of: Carmine Appice, Tim Bogert, Vince Martell, and Bill Pascali, with Tim Stevens on bass on one song.

Vanilla Fudge were one of the great bands who fused popular sensibilities with a psychedelic edge, a mode that would overwhelm the industry long after their temporary retirement. And now they’re back, belting out tunes new and old with a passion and craftsmanship that prove they never should have left.

Featured tracks include many of the band’s hit tunes (recorded and some in concert), along with a cover of Rod Stewart’s “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” (which was cowritten by Appice). Also included are covers of ‘N Sync’s “Tearing Up my Heart” and the Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way.”

While Vanilla Fudge excels at a powerful manifestation of the old Sixties pop sound, the band also delivers hypnotic jams that bridge their old sound with modern intensity. The guitar wails like a squealing beast, emphatic and engaging. Basslines crawl through the mix like molten lava, burning their riffs into the backbrain. Percussion is strong and fervent, generating compelling rhythms that enthrall the listener. Extensive application of organ creates a nostalgic edge to the songs, capturing that old sliding-keyboard sound that marked the Sixties as a period of experimentation. The band superbly keep this experimental flair alive in these new versions.

Fans of the band’s old material will enjoy this release, which promises to introduce this classic tuneage to a whole new generation of fans-in-waiting.

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