Tuesday, September 10, 2013

1973: So Very Hard To Go

Released in May 1973, Tower of Power’s biggest hit of their career began its ascent up the charts to its peak position of #17 on the Hot 100 and #11 on the R&B charts by June. As TOP’s new lead vocalist, Lenny Williams puts soulful emotion into “So Very Hard to Go,” which appeared on the band’s self titled third album. I was reminded of this talented horn band from Oakland, California the other day by a friend who mentioned that he was working on an arrangement of a TOP song for his marching band.

“So Very Hard to Go” was written by tenor saxophonist Emilio Castillo and baritone saxophonist Doc Krupka. I love this tune, but its only failing point (in my estimation) is the tonality of Jay Spell’s piano –  definitely not his playing, as it is impeccable.

The piano sounds like a spinet that has been miked from too great of a distance. Although not a primary instrument in the tune, the piano really adds to the overall sound and even mimics a harp at times – I just wish it sounded clearer and closer like every other instrument on this recording. Besides Spell’s keyboard skills and Williams’ vocals, the other crowning moment of this tune is Greg Adams’ trumpet solo. Good stuff from 1973.

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