Tower of Power, East Bay Grease

Out of print for many years, Tower of Power's début finally got a reissue on Rhino. And it's certainly an unusual gem: six long-form tracks, a different vocalist (Rufus Miller on most, his only recorded appearance), and some very high quality funk riffs with superb brass leads. For all those reasons I think I love every single one of the tracks ... about halfway, that is, because by then there's nothing new to hear, no scatting the lyrics can do to punch it up, no jam they can hit to get your attention back. If they'd cut the songs down and turned this into an EP, I think it might have stood the test of time; instead, we have an earnest but indulgent LP that'll test you instead. There's a lot of raw talent, but raw is the chief impression, and even fans will probably hit the skip button regularly. (Content: no concerns.)