PHILADELPHIA’S BREWERYTOWN BEATS ANNOUNCES REISSUE OF ULTRA-RARE, 1973, POWER OF ATTORNEY ‘CHANGING MAN’ SINGLE
FOUR ADDITIONAL, NEVER-BEFORE-HEARD TRACKS FROM THE SAME 1973 SESSIONS WILL BE RELEASED VIA BREWERYTOWN BY THE END OF 2020.
In the early 1970s, the Soul/Funk band Power Of Attorney was formed at the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution at Graterford (30 miles northwest of Philadelphia). The story of their formation is just as powerful as the music that they left behind.
In late 1972, the prison’s Activities Director Theodore “Ted” Wing broke ground on a new recording studio. As part of the rehabilitative arts and music initiative, the space was built to offer a creative outlet for incarcerated individuals to express their musical talents. In November of ‘72 an audition was held throughout the prison to form a band. It has been reported that over 1,600 men auditioned for a spot in the band.
Wing ultimately settled on a line-up that consisted of William Smith (lead guitar), Charles McDowell (bass), Merion Wilson (tenor saxophone), Edward J.X. Smith (guitar), and Otis Graham (drums). With a line-up of gifted musicians and a fresh new recording studio to practice and lay down tracks in, the band Power Of Attorney was officially born.
In January of 1973, Power Of Attorney got the chance to record at Sigma Sound Studios, the legendary space that helped birth the Philadelphia International sound as well as classic albums like David Bowie’s, Young Americans. Taking the routines that they had rehearsed for a reported five hours each day, the band laid down the tracks — including the reflective ‘Changing Man,’ an original composition by McDowell.
“It tells the story of a man who made a mistake, and after a while in jail, he gets his head together, and realizes it’s time to straighten it out,” the 21-year-old serving life for murder told The Philadelphia Daily News upon the single’s release.
The 7-inch single was released on the Nicetown label in 1973. Sold directly from the prison activities office, 500 copies were originally made. After more practicing and recording, one year later James Brown & Polydor Records offered The Power Of Attorney’s lone full-length, 1974’s ‘From The Inside…’ Between 1973 and 1975 the band played 400+ concerts outside of the prison walls. Even opening for Stevie Wonder at Lincoln University and also making a live appearance on the Mike Douglas show.
Forward to 2020 – While digging through the Sigma tape archives at Drexel University, Brewerytown Beats owner Max Ochester – known for deep-dive Philly reissues by The Thompsons and Sounds Of Liberation – noticed two tapes, with only “P.O.A.” scribbled on the spines. Upon further inspection, it was discovered that these 2-inch multi-reels contained six songs, four of them previously unreleased, all from 1973. The full original studio tapes for Power Of Attorney’s ‘Changing Man’ sessions had been found, 47 years later.
Expertly mixed and remastered from the original reels, Power Of Attorney’s,Changing Man (out now on Brewerytown Records), is a document of the joy and pain of a handful of men trying to make the best of an impossible situation. The bittersweet love ballad ‘I’m Just your Clown’ is featured on the flip.
The reissued single is available now on Brewerytown Records on vinyl and streaming platforms. The label will follow this up with the vinyl and streaming release of all 6 songs found on that long-lost Sigma tape, on vinyl & CD in late 2020.