Gene McDaniels: Tower of Strength (1961)

 |   |  1 min read

Gene McDaniels: Tower of Strength (1961)

When Nick Lowe sang this oldie in concert at the Powerstation (see review here), it's a fair bet many in the audience either didn't recognise it, or hadn't heard it in over four decades.

Lowe's treatment -- slow, less dramatic -- made the lyrics act as a neat counterpoint to his own bitter I Trained Her to Love Me. But in McDaniel's hands this song he co-wrote with Burt Bacharach is a very different thing.

McDaniels (who'd previously had a chart hit with 100lbs of Clay) offers a mixture of anger and vengance in the lyrics ("you'd be down on your knees, you'd be calling to meee") with that gulp of regret and self-loathing at his own weakness ("but a tower of strength is something ... [gulp] ... I'll never be").

This was about the last time anyone heard of McDaniels who quit the States after the assassination of Martin Luther King and went to Europe to live and be a songwriter. It worked, he wrote I Feel LIke Making Love (sung by Roberta Flack) which won a Grammy in the mid Seventies, but when he returned to the States he kept a very low profile and died in July 2011, aged 76.

However in the final decade of his quiet life he was much sampled and his powerful, political Compared to What of '69 threw a spotlight on another side of McDaniels. 

However Tower of Strength is a strange one with its drunken trombone and those great gulps.

Once heard .. [gulp] ... never forgotten? 

For more oddities, one-offs or songs with an interesting backstory check the massive back-catalogue at From the Vaults.

Share It

Your Comments

Graham Dunster - Jul 26, 2022

I had a copy of the Frankie Vaughn version back in my youth, never thought to follow up other versions, let alone the original. Thanks for the article!

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

Mark Dinning: Teen Angel (1959)

Mark Dinning: Teen Angel (1959)

When songwriter Jean Dinning died in 2011 at age 86, the obituary writers got the bare fact down straight. How she'd been reading about juvenile delinquents and someone had commented these kids... > Read more

Ronald Frankau: I'd Like to Have a Honeymoon with Her (1930s)

Ronald Frankau: I'd Like to Have a Honeymoon with Her (1930s)

With his fruity, aristocratic tone, the London music hall comedian and actor Ronald Frankau (1894-1951) had the perfect voice for innuendo. And his choice of material included Everyone's Got Sex... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Chuck Berry; One Dozen Berrys/Rockin' at the Hops/New Juke Box Hits (Vinyl Passion)

Chuck Berry; One Dozen Berrys/Rockin' at the Hops/New Juke Box Hits (Vinyl Passion)

With only one notable exception – his godawful '72 hit My Ding-A-Ling – nearly all of Chuck Berry's greatest songs came in a rush on the Chess label in a five year period from August... > Read more

RECOMMENDED RECORD: The Finn Brothers, Finn (Lester)

RECOMMENDED RECORD: The Finn Brothers, Finn (Lester)

From time to time Elsewhere will single out a recent release we recommend on vinyl, like this reissue which comes in a gatefold sleeve as a double album with an extra record of demos. Check out... > Read more