Originally released in 1976, The All American Powerhouse is one of the very best of the Themes library releases. It’s killer. A feast of dramatic jazz, horizontal, melodic funk and bouncing sunshine-y West-Coast feels throughout, there also lurks an intense injection of the Blaxploitation sound. Understandable, given the subject matter and year it was released.
From the Lincoln Continental that memorably adorns the cover to the tranquil funk contained within, this glowing ode to the grooving force of 70s American soul music is ice cool all over. With brilliant contributions from the Three Key AlansTM (Hawkshaw, Parker, Tew) as well as Mike Moran, Les Hurdle and Keith Roberts, this is driving music for only the vibiest cats.
Highlights include Alan Parker’s confident, horn-heavy wah-wah-fuelled album-opener Sweeny Todd, Hawkshaw’s graceful Getaway glide and dramatic, breathless Speed Run, Mike Moran’s loose, organ- driven propulsive B-Boy classic The Pick-Up and Keith Roberts’ percussive tour de force Overide that closes out the LP.
Yet, perhaps the most significant track here is Les Hurdle’s long-adored Soul Train. A grooving, bass- heavy library classic, it’s all swirling strings, stabbing horns, heavy open drums and melodic funk-rock guitars. Add in the funky clavinet, and the combination works beautifully. As with all of the other Themes re-issues, the audio for The All American Powerhouse comes from the original analogue tapes and has been remastered for vinyl by Be With regular Simon Francis. The same care happens with the sleeves, handing the reproduction duties over to Richard Robinson, the current custodian of KPM’s brand identity.