Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Pop, R&B, Rock
Racially mixed and, for a time, commercially hot, War forged an undeniable fusion between the 'hood and the barrio, infusing their brand of funk with Latin rhythms, jazz flourishes, and gritty social realism that summed up... more »
Racially mixed and, for a time, commercially hot, War forged an undeniable fusion between the 'hood and the barrio, infusing their brand of funk with Latin rhythms, jazz flourishes, and gritty social realism that summed up the '70s. This two-CD collection traces War's lengthy and varied career, from the early days backing up Eric Burdon on "Spill the Wine" to their "Low Rider" (still sampled to this day) and the steely desperado epic "Cisco Kid." Capable of both pop hits such as "Why Can't We Be Friends" and the murky R&B of "Slipping into Darkness," War created some of the coolest and musically adventurous tracks of the '70s and '80s, paving the way for Latino rappers like Cypress Hill and Kid Frost. --Amy Linden
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Great music, but a flawed set
Tyler Smith | Denver, CO United States | 12/02/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This two-disc anthology provides plenty of worthwhile music from the great '70s band War (I know: it goes through 1994; more on that later), but the collector looking to update his vinyl as well as the relative newcomer to the band's work can do better elsewhere, especially for the price.The breadth of representation on the discs is fine. We get tunes from their productive collaboration with British rocker/bluesman Eric Burdon (including, of course, the superb "Spill the Wine" as well as a fine interpretation of "Tobacco Road") and plenty of representation from their heyday in the mid to late '70s, during which they created a series of stellar albums. For those that are interested, there is also ample representation of their work after bassist B.B. Dickerson and others left the group. I feel the quality of the music fell off significantly after that point, but the label wanted to present an anthology. It's a choice, but not the best one, in my opinion.It's not the presence but rather the quantity of later material included that is a major drawback for me. War's best material was a heady blend of rock, jazz and Latin music with a sprinkling of doo-wop and even gospel influences. The work from '76 on may have produced some hits ("Why Can't We Be Friends?", "Low Rider" and "LA Sunshine") that still garner significant airplay, but it also reduced the drive and the urgency of the music in favor of mass appeal and an unfortunate occasional nod to disco. To accommodate the second disc, representation from the great releases "All Day Music," "The World Is a Ghetto," and "Deliver the Word" are all seriously trimmed. If the point of an anthology is to highlight the band's strengths, this one doesn't deliver.An even more serious drawback is that three key extended jams, "The World Is a Ghetto," City, Country, City," and "Gypsy Man," are each cut by half or more, obviously to accommodate the later material on disc two. Big mistake. War was at its best when it stretched out and hit a groove that displayed the member's serious instrumental chops. These truncated versions are pale imitations of the originals.My recommendation is to pick up full versions of each of the aforementioned albums, plus "Eric Burdon Declares War" and "Platinum Jazz," which is uneven but includes some excellent material not represented here. Failing that, seek out other collections and carefully check the times of the tracks listed. If you see a four-minute "City, Country, City," put the disc back in the bin or click to another Web page."
Everyone needs to make War
Brian Hulett | Oinklahoma | 10/23/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Any serious fan of '70s music should have some War in their possession. If War is one of your favorite bands, this one is probably not for you, although the booklet that accompanies the double CDs is an excellent comprehensive history of War from their early '60s roots to the date of this release in 1994. This set is best for the casual fan who liked War but doesn't have any particular desire for a complete collection.
War was the only group to do the Latino/soul/pop/rock thing nearly as well as Santana, and they were funkier. They came to the attention of the music world through the efforts of former Animals singer Eric Burdon, who, along with Danish harmonica virtuouso Lee Oskar, was looking for new direction and found this bunch of African-American musicians who had been heavily influenced by Latin rhythms. He renamed them from "Nightshift" to "War," stating that no one with a name like that could be overlooked, with everyone talking about peace as they were in 1969. He was right about the band's talent, and he was right about the name. It stuck.
Burdon led the band for two LPs, including their big hit together "Spill the Wine," and then went his own way while War climbed the ladder to stardom with their own hits like the lovely "All Day Music" and sparse "Slippin' Into Darkness," each of which established their career-long pattern of members sharing vocals with no one lead singer. It was 1972 when they really hit it big, with "The World Is a Ghetto" and "The Cisco Kid."
It's here that this anthology hits its most unfortunate theme, by including truncated versions of their songs. War was famous for their extended jam sessions, both live and in the studio, and including 4-minute single edits is like trimming Grateful Dead concerts down to half-hour TV show length. Yeah, what's there is great, but what's NOT there is good too. This is why the set is best for casual fans only, those of us who just want to have some good War in our possession. When you want to hear this kind of music, little else hits the spot.
In spite of that kind of exclusion, the set is also to be lauded, in my opinion, for covering an entire 25-year span of music. That's an anthology in its proper format, and while the music on Disc Two doesn't come up to the quality of that on Disc One, I'm glad to have it too. By the time we've run through the many hits of War, with those named above as well as "Gypsy Man," "Me and Baby Brother," "Ballero," "Why Can't We Be Friends," "Summer," and their ultimate classic "Low Rider," there's plenty of space for sampling their other works as well.
The sound quality is as good as one could wish, the aforementioned 50-page anthology booklet (lots of visual art but lots of text as well), and even the packaging itself, is top quality. I would like longer versions of some of the tracks, particularly "The World Is a Ghetto," but still recommend this set, especially if you can get a slightly used or otherwise unopened copy at the lower price."
The MUSIC BAND Reigns!
Jazzman98 | Musicland, California United States | 06/28/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is THE definitive WAR collection. Disc One is the early stuff that any jazz/funk lover would love. Hopefully these tunes will inspire the listener to purchase the full length versions of at least one of the discs these songs come from. You haven't lived until you've heard the long versions of "City, Country, City" and "The World is a Ghetto"! Of course, having "Spill the Wine" is always good as well. Unfortunately, it is the short versions of these songs that keep me from giving this package 5 stars. But, why hold a grudge... it has all the great songs! Disc Two is an excellent compilation of "WAR- the mediocre years". This is not a slight, it's justa good place to find the best cuts off of some of the bands not so popular LPs. The moments are great -- "Outlaw", "Cinco de Mayo", even "Peace Sign" are still capable of raisin' the roof. (Speaking of "Peace Sign" - run, buy this disc, it's a good one! )The booklet is among the best of any reissue I've seen. It has great photos and a well written biography of a band that, as recently as Memorial Day, has shown that it can still THROW DOWN! (and at Jazz festival no less!)For fans just getting into WAR...ignore the remix project 'twofer' and jump on this one. For those of us that know....it's a great way to have all of the albums on one disc to load into the car and ....(S)LOW RIDE!"