WAR: ‘The Very Best Of War’ (Label: Rhino Avenue)

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WAR: 'The Very Best Of War'

Back in the 1970s, this interracial octet hailing from Long Beach, California, came to prominence as one of the West Coast’s leading exponents of head-nodding, groove-based music. Fronted for a short time by ex-Animal, Eric Burdon, War melded hot funk and sweet soul with buoyant Latin rhythms. Above all, what helped define War’s distinctive sound was the liberal sprinkling of a plaintive, bluesy harmonica sound (courtesy of Danish-born member, Lee Oskar). Although the group was at its creative pinnacle in the ’70s, War has remained active up to the present day (the reissue of this compilation coincides with a War/Burdon reunion at the Royal Albert Hall on April 21st). This new 34-track double set focuses on the band’s most popular moments spanning the years 1970-1994. Two tracks (‘Spill The Wine’ and a version of John D. Loudermilk’s popular perennial, ‘Tobacco Road’) originate from the period when War was led by the Tyneside rocker Eric Burdon. Far better is the music the band cut without Burdon, including the seminal ‘Cisco Kid, ‘All Day Music,’ ‘Slippin’ Into Darkness,’ and the anthemic ‘The World Is A Ghetto.’ One of the band’s biggest commercial successes was provided by the catchy, groove-fuelled ‘Low Rider’ which more recently enjoyed fame in the UK providing the soundtrack to a Marmite TV advert. This is indubitably a classic collection and, if you’re an aficionado of ’70s soul and funk, it’s one worthy of your utmost attention (for those interested in Eric Burdon’s association with the group, there’s also an Avenue CD, ‘Best Of Eric Burdon & War,’ which has just been reissued).
(CW) 4/5