A record that anticipates, outdoes, and sadly fails to prevent Tom Jones, “Tower Of Strength” is the pop equivalent of those great, famous old Charles Atlas ads. Hey! Wimp! Fed up with having sand kicked in your face? Well, we can’t promise you the secrets of muscle mystery, but we can slap your frustration on vinyl and let you howl along as if you did have biceps like steel cords. Frankie Vaughan’s performance is beserk – check that first verse, he bellows the lines and then ends each one – “door!”, “knees!”, “mee-eee!” – with a different kind of shriek. When he comes back for more in verse two his voice is more of a bassy gasp, and then he ends it all with a cod-opera flourish. Marcello C has called this one of the great British soul singles – I’d agree, but I think it’s helped hugely by being recorded near the beginning of soul, before its emotional lexicon had been fully compiled. In the right mood “Tower Of Strength” can harrow you, but in another mood – which also turns out to be ‘right’ – it’s an absolute hoot. Like much of my favourite British music, you can take it as seriously as you like – or need.

Score: 8

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