Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 10. 23rd May 1973
War: "World, is a Ghetto" — V.A
War: "World, is a Ghetto" — V.A.
Eric Burdon declared War several years ago. Now he has left them and the Band comprising seven members have released 'The World is a Ghetto' as their first record sans Eric.
Burdon, while undoubtedly one of the finest British singers, never seemed to have much commercial success with War. Burdon himself rambled through it all — his voice never seemed to suit this medium and I still think 'Gin House Blues' was his forte.
When War appeared their music was a fusion of African rhythms, American Jazz and English rhythm and blues. The sheer frenetic energy of Burdon's voice was sometimes enough but the most exciting feature of War itself was the percussion — otherwise colour music could always be brightened by congas and timbales. Eric led the group and they will miss his vocals but they seem to be doing all right without him.
'City, Country, City' is the best thing on the first side and probably on the record. It is a long instrumental piece that begins with the same 42nd Street harmonica that wailed through 'Midnight Cowboy'. The tune builds up through exciting clarinet and saxaphone with glorious percussion and finishes with dreamy exchanges between organ and guitar. It is good music and made better by the absence of any of the vocals which spoil so much of the rest of the record.
The second side opens with 'Four Cornered Room'. The singing reminds me of the Yardbird's somber 'Still I'm Sad' and Eric Burdon's own nightmarish 'Black Plague' — it sounds like a dirge for a pigmy funeral. What makes the song worse is he triteness of the lyrics. I thought of that Buddy Miles' record 'Message to the People' with the fatman's face painted onto a mountain, with trees and rocks in his hair; undoubtedly some sort of Mt Rushmore crawl back obsession. On that 'waxing' that philosopher's message was "Ups and downs are in you mind, if you really don't have no conception of time".
War give us assorted revelations of a similar nature on this side. Examples are "I can understand where you're coming from" and later how "Paradise is love to be sure". These people have no sense of the banal.
World is a Ghetto' has some more good clarinet and saxophone work but this is the only thing that saves this side. "Beetles in the Bog" sounds like the rain dance from Woodstock.
Still, there is hope that War will find it's feet. The music is good: the horns are strong and the percussion saves the record. It will be interesting to hear their next record.