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War (Official Thread)

Discussion in '70's Music' started by Slip'nn2Darkness, Feb 1, 2010.

  1. Slip'nn2Darkness

    Slip'nn2Darkness Sub Sonic Soul Shaker

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    War Official Website

    Since there is limited space to do post on here I'll start off with the write up..

    One of the most popular funk groups of the '70s, War were also one of the most eclectic, freely melding soul, Latin, jazz, blues, reggae, and rock influences into an effortlessly funky whole. Although War's lyrics were sometimes political in nature (in keeping with their racially integrated lineup), their music almost always had a sunny, laid-back vibe emblematic of their Southern California roots. War kept the groove loose, and they were given over to extended jamming -- in fact, many of their studio songs were edited together out of longer improvisations. Even if the jams sometimes got indulgent, they demonstrated War's truly group-minded approach: no one soloist or vocalist really stood above the others (even though all were clearly talented), and their grooving interplay placed War in the top echelon of funk ensembles.

    The roots of War lay in an R&B cover band called the Creators. Guitarist Howard Scott and drummer Harold Brown started the group in 1962 while attending high school in the Compton area, and three years later, the lineup also featured keyboardist Leroy "Lonnie" Jordan, bassist Morris "B.B." Dickerson, and saxophonist/flutist Charles Miller (all of them sang). The group had an appetite for different sounds right from the start, ranging from R&B to blues to the Latin music they'd absorbed while growing up in the racially mixed ghettos of Los Angeles. Despite a two-year hiatus following Scott's induction into the service, they released several singles locally on Dore Records (their first, "Burn Baby Burn," was with singer Johnny Hamilton), and backed jazz saxophonist Jay Contreli, formerly of the psychedelic band Love; they also went by the names the Romeos and Señor Soul during this period. In 1968, the band was reconfigured and dubbed Nightshift; Peter Rosen was the new bassist, and percussionist Thomas Sylvester "Papa Dee" Allen, who'd previously played with Dizzy Gillespie, came onboard, along with two more horn players. B.B. Dickerson later returned when Rosen died of a drug overdose. In 1969, Nightshift began backing football star Deacon Jones (a defensive end for the L.A. Rams) during his singing performances in a small club, where they were discovered by producer Jerry Goldstein. Goldstein suggested the band as possible collaborators to former Animals lead singer Eric Burdon, who along with Danish-born harmonica player Lee Oskar (born Oskar Levetin Hansen) had been searching L.A. clubs for a new act.

    After witnessing Nightshift in concert, Burdon took charge of the group. He gave them a provocative new name, War, and replaced the two extra horn players with Oskar. To develop material, War began playing marathon concert jams over which Burdon would free-associate lyrics. In August 1969, Burdon and War entered the studio for the first time, and after some more touring, they recorded their first album, 1970's Eric Burdon Declares War. The spaced-out daydream of "Spill the Wine" was a smash hit, climbing to number three and establishing the group in the public eye. A second album, The Black Man's Burdon, was released before the year's end, and over the course of two records it documented the group's increasingly long improvisations (as well as Burdon's growing tendency to ramble). It also featured War's first recorded vocal effort on "They Can't Take Away Our Music." Burdon's contract allowed War to be signed separately, and they soon inked a deal with United Artists, intending to record on their own as well as maintaining their partnership with Burdon. However, Burdon -- citing exhaustion -- suddenly quit during the middle of the group's European tour in 1971, spelling the beginning of the end; he rejoined War for a final U.S. tour and then left for good.

    War had already issued their self-titled, Burdon-less debut at the beginning of 1971, but it flopped. Before the year was out, they recorded another effort, All Day Music, which spawned their first Top 40 hits in "All Day Music" and "Slippin' Into Darkness"; the album itself was a million-selling Top 20 hit. War really hit their stride on the follow-up album, 1972's The World Is a Ghetto; boosted by a sense of multicultural harmony, it topped the charts and sold over three million copies, making it the best-selling album of 1973. It also produced two Top Ten smashes in "The Cisco Kid" (which earned them a fervent following in the Latino community) and the title ballad. 1973's Deliver the Word was another million-selling hit, reaching the Top Ten and producing the Top Ten single "Gypsy Man" and another hit in "Me and Baby Brother." However, it had less of the urban grit that War prided themselves on; while taking some time to craft new material and rethink their direction, War consolidated their success with the double concert LP War Live, recorded over four nights in Chicago during 1974.

    Released in 1975, Why Can't We Be Friends returned to the sound of The World Is a Ghetto with considerable success. The bright, anthemic title track hit the Top Ten, as did "Low Rider," an irresistible slice of Latin funk that became the group's first (and only) R&B chart-topper, and still stands as their best-known tune. 1976 brought the release of a greatest-hits package featuring the new song "Summer," which actually turned out to be War's final Top Ten pop hit; the same year, Oskar released his first solo album, backed by members of Santana. A double-LP compilation of jams and instrumentals appeared on the Blue Note jazz label in 1977, under the title Platinum Jazz; it quickly became one of the best-selling albums in Blue Note history, and produced an R&B-chart smash with an edited version of "L.A. Sunshine."

    Yet disco was beginning to threaten the gritty, socially aware funk War specialized in. Later in 1977, the band switched labels, moving to MCA for Galaxy; though it sold respectably, and the disco-tinged title track was a hit on the R&B charts, it fizzled on the pop side, and proved to be the last time War would hit the Top 40. After completing the Youngblood soundtrack album in 1978, the original War lineup began to disintegrate. Dickerson left during the recording of 1979's The Music Band (which featured new female vocalist Alice Tweed Smith), and not long after, Charles Miller was murdered in a robbery attempt. After The Music Band was released, the remaining members attempted to refashion their image to fit the glitz of the era, and added some new personnel: bassist Luther Rabb, percussionist Ronnie Hammon, and saxophonist Pat Rizzo (ex-Sly & the Family Stone). The Music Band 2 flopped, and the group was thrown into disarray; Smith exited, and the follow-up took an uncharacteristic three years to prepare. Released in 1982, Outlaw was a moderate success; the title track was a Top 20 R&B hit, and "Cinco de Mayo" became a Latino holiday standard. Yet it didn't restore War's commercial standing. Rizzo left later in the year; Harold Brown followed in 1983, after Life Is So Strange flopped; and Rabb was replaced with Ricky Green in 1984. In the years that followed, War was essentially a touring outfit and nothing more. Papa Dee Allen collapsed and died on-stage of a brain aneurysm in 1988, leaving Jordan, Hammon, Oskar, and Scott as the core membership (Oskar would finally leave in 1992). Interest in War's classic material remained steady, however, thanks to frequent sampling of their grooves by hip-hop artists. 1992's Rap Declares War paired the band with a variety of rappers, paving the way for the 1994 comeback attempt Peace Sign; for that record, Brown returned on drums, and Jordan (now on bass), Scott, and Hammon were joined by saxophonists Kerry Campbell and Charles Green, percussionist Sal Rodriguez, harmonica player Tetsuya "Tex" Nakamura, and Brown's son, programmer Rae Valentine (plus guests Lee Oskar and José Feliciano). The album failed to chart, however, and the group returned to the touring circuit. Brown and Scott left the lineup in 1997.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 14, 2012
  2. Slip'nn2Darkness

    Slip'nn2Darkness Sub Sonic Soul Shaker

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    Re: War.. One of my favorites

    War Albums:

    1970 Eric Burdon Declares "War" (As "Eric Burdon and War")
    1970 The Black-Man's Burdon (As "Eric Burdon and War")
    1971 War
    1971 All Day Music
    1972 The World Is a Ghetto
    1973 Deliver the Word
    1975 Why Can't We Be Friends?
    1976 Love Is All Around (As "Eric Burdon and War")
    1976 Platinum Jazz
    1977 Galaxy
    1979 The Music Band
    1979 The Music Band 2
    1982 Outlaw
    1983 The Music Band – Jazz
    1983 Life (is So Strange)
    1985 Where There's Smoke
    1994 Peace Sign


    Now here's my input since I know this band way beyond the popular songs that they have been "Commercially" know for..
    If your first thoughts of the band WAR take you that time you heard "Lowrider" in Cheech and Chongs "Up In Smoke" movie.. you have missed out on a great band.
    During the 70's in California .. Latino R&B fushion music was popular.. Santana was putting out Latino style classics.. War was adding R&B to the mix..
    You were left with smooth harmonic vocals that reminded you of a mixture of southern soul that differed from your top soul bands that dominated the airwaves..
    Here's some songs that maybe some of you have heard..
    This band to me is one that you can just relax and enjoy.. Nothing really hard about them.. Considering the time they were most popular, they did a great job making a name for themselves against so many big names who had more popularity votes..

    four cornered room


    the world is a ghetto


    slip'n into darkness


    Here's a video of Eric Burton with War..

    love is all around
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 14, 2012
  3. Magic

    Magic Woman of the World

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    Re: War.. One of my favorites

    spill the wine




    tobacco road
     
  4. Trickster

    Trickster Senior Member

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    Re: War.. One of my favorites

    I really don't know to much about this band... The only thing i do know is they opened up for Cheap Trick a few years ago, and i thought WOW this band is pretty good!

    :cheers:
     
  5. eberg15101

    eberg15101 Senior Member

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    Re: War.. One of my favorites

    Not my favorite in the world.. no objections to the band War....
    I like a handful of songs wouldn't mind having an album or two, they aren't on the top of my list for albums to buy, but I wouldn't, not spend money I them:D

    nice thread by the way, for some reason I always forget Eric Burdon was a part of War, I always associate him with The Animals, but forget about war
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2010
  6. LG

    LG Fade To Black

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    Re: War.. One of my favorites

    I used to have their Greatest Hits on vinyl but it's long gone.
     
  7. Slip'nn2Darkness

    Slip'nn2Darkness Sub Sonic Soul Shaker

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    Re: War.. One of my favorites

    That's cool Tricky.. Even though you probably seen some fill ins and not the originals..
    You know how that would be if you saw Cheap Trick with say... Kurt Corbain on vocals instead of Robin.. and Flea on Bass instead of Tom..or Tommy Lee on drums instead of Bunny.. :wa: It's just not the same.. Good thing CT has never had to part with the original members..
    My favorites from War are long gone.. Lee Oskar being one of the last to leave..:( The white guy from Denmark with the afro...
     
  8. Lynch

    Lynch Here for the cookies and the tunes

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    Re: War.. One of my favorites

    Cool writeup and thread. I'll have to check out some of these vid links.
     
  9. Flower

    Flower retired

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    Re: War.. One of my favorites

    I've always found this cover interesting ~

    paint it black
     
  10. Slip'nn2Darkness

    Slip'nn2Darkness Sub Sonic Soul Shaker

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    Re: War.. One of my favorites

    Nice Flower.. This brings to light something about Eric Burton..
    "However, Burdon -- citing exhaustion -- suddenly quit during the middle of the group's European tour in 1971"
    I wonder if he just couldn't keep up with the long jam thing War was noted for..
    Man.. I'm into Eric Big time.. but for him to come aboard and join this band??? Maybe he just didn't have the "Feel" of what they were into..
    Playing the cowbell like he was doing dosn't grant you much profilin as far as I'm concerned..
     

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