5 R&B records that producer/ engineer Bob Power put his stamp on
His name gained hip-hop notoriety when A Tribe Called Quest name-dropped him on their album, but this engineer/producer is also linked to a handful of classic R&B albums.
What’s in a name? Well, no one’s accusing Bob Power of false advertising. Since the mid-1980s, the esteemed producer and engineer has beefed up the recordings of everyone from D’Angelo to A Tribe Called Quest in efforts to make our world a doper-sounding place. And who better to do it than a cat named Bob Power?
Born in Chicago to a decidedly unmusical family in 1952, Bob Power relocated with his family to Rye, New York, when Bob was three. There, in close proximity to the Bronx, Power inherited his sister’s guitar—she’d lost interest in “Blowin’ in the Wind” by this point—and fell prey to the sounds of rock and roll and R&B.
“I was fourteen or fifteen in a friend’s parents’ living room, and they put on Otis Live in Europe,” remembers Power. “And ‘Try a Little Tenderness’ on this recording…I get chills thinking about it. It brings down the house with, like, ten thousand people screaming his name. That was a real mindblower.”
In 1970, Power left for St. Louis, where he would balance his theory and composition studies at Webster College with work in rock and soul bands at night. In ’75, he took off for an eight-year stay in San Francisco—“like everybody does”—and fell into scoring, among other things.
“Because I had a background in composition, I got some gigs scoring television shows, which subsidized my playing jazz,” says Power. “I was a journeyman musician just trying to work.”
But the real work was in New York. Power made it back to the Apple in 1982, and soon after tried his hand at engineering. In 1985, while filling in for a coworker, Power mixed and recorded Stetsasonic’s On Fire; it didn’t take long until Tribe, De La, and a host of others came looking for Bob.
“No one told me it was gonna be like this,” says Power. “No one told me I didn’t have to wear a suit.”
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