Review: War is good as 50th anniversary of ‘The World Is a Ghetto’ shines in premium box set

This image released by Far Out Productions shows "The World Is a Ghetto" by War, the 50th Anniversary Collector's Edition. (Far Out Productions via AP)

This image released by Far Out Productions shows “The World Is a Ghetto” by War, the 50th Anniversary Collector’s Edition. (Far Out Productions via AP)

A remastered and well-presented five LP box set of War’s best-selling album “The World Is a Ghetto” recaptures that slice of time when multicultural rock reached its first peak.

War dependably delivered a fusion of rock and Latin rhythms in the early ‘70s, coming out of the age of musical psychedelia. The Southern California band — originally called Eric Burdon and War — gave us music for the working class, with lyrics bemoaning political infighting and frequently urging social harmony.

The band, initially formed to back Burdon as he plotted his next musical endeavor after the Animals, took on a life of its own and was spurred into success by a fan base that crossed cultural boundaries.

“The Cisco Kid” sounds clean and defined as rendered on the 50th anniversary remaster on gorgeous gold colored vinyl. The instrumentals are nicely separated for this side one song on Billboard’s best-selling album of 1973.

The stabs of keyboard work from founding member Lonnie Jordan are a mainstay of War’s music, and shine on tracks like “City, Country, City,” a long-winded jam session. Bonus tracks on separate vinyl in the set include “Lee’s Latin Jam” with its upbeat, heavy horn work.

The highlight is hearing the band work through the making of “The Cisco Kid,” with an entire 25 minute track occupying an entire LP side as the group hashes out different percussion approaches for the beginning, and searching for the right tone on vocals. The liner notes explain the song was the band’s nod to the heroic Mexican caballero of comic book and television fame, because he was “the only non-Anglo superhero on television.”

War’s music maintained through decades, earning the band more than 20 gold, platinum and multi-platinum records. They were Santana with a little less guitar and a few more horns, and quickly became a Southern California car culture favorite.

Best of all, War endured.


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