CD of the Month

April 29, 2008

Stephen “Doc” Kupka is a founding member of Tower of Power and, with co-founder Emilio Castillo, composer of most of the music the band has done over the last 40 years. A few years ago he formed the Strokeland Superband as an outlet for his composing beyond the music that fit Tower’s style. The band is not a live performing group, but only exists on recordings. In many ways Doc’s band was a “supergroup” – many current and former members of TOP recorded, as did Lydia Pense (formerly of Cold Blood) and Huey Lewis.

Now Doc has gone one step further. This CD is a collection of Kupka-authored or co-authored tunes, arranged by Hollywood arranger Bill Ross. They are all sung by John Lee Sanders, Alabama-born but now residing in Vancouver. On his notes on the Strokeland web site, Sanders says he was going for the sound Marvin Gaye had when he recorded a Nat King Cole tribute album with an orchestra in the 1960s. John Lee has a wide range of musical experience himself and also arranged and sang all the background vocals. It’s a very interesting sound, and combined with Doc’s unusual harmonic twists and turns, the tunes have that perfect blend of nostalgia from the “Great American Songbook” quality of the songs and freshness of Doc’s writing.

It’s not exactly pop, or easy listening, and it’s certainly not R&B or funk, like TOP; check out Doc’s web site for some excerpts before you buy. You’ll be glad you did!


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