Artist: War

The World is a Ghetto – War

War (originally called Eric Burdon and War) is an American funk band from California, known for the hit songs “Low Rider”, “Spill the Wine”, “The Cisco Kid” and “Why Can’t We Be Friends?”. Formed in 1969, War was a musical crossover band which fused elements of rock, funk, jazz, Latin American music, rhythm and blues, and reggae. The band also transcended racial and cultural barriers with a multi-ethnic line-up. The band has sold over 50 million records to date.

Although War’s lyrics are often socio-political in nature, their music usually had a laid-back, California funk vibe. A particular feature of War’s sound is the use of harmonica and saxophone playing melody lines in unison, sounding like a single instrument, for example in the melody of “Low Rider”. The music has been sampled and recorded by many singers and groups, ranging from R&B / pop singers such as Janet Jackson to nu metal band Korn and hip hop groups like TLC.

In 1962, Howard E. Scott and Harold Brown formed a group called The Creators in Long Beach, California. Within a few years, they had added Charles Miller,Morris “B. B.” Dickerson and Lonnie Jordan to the lineup. Lee Oskar and Papa Dee Allen later joined as well. They all shared a love of diverse styles of music, which they had absorbed living in the racially-mixed Los Angeles ghettos. The Creators recorded several singles on Dore Records while working with Tjay Contrelli, a saxophonist from the band Love. In 1968, the Creators became Nightshift (named because Brown worked nights at a steel yard) and started performing withDeacon Jones, a football player and singer.

The original War was conceived by record producer Jerry Goldstein (“My Boyfriend’s Back”, “Hang on Sloopy”, “I Want Candy”) and singer Eric Burdon (ex-lead singer of the British band the Animals). In 1969, Goldstein saw musicians who would eventually become War playing at the Rag Doll in North Hollywood, backing Deacon Jones, and he was attracted to the band’s sound. Jordan claimed that the band’s goal was to spread a message of brotherhood and harmony, using instruments and voices to speak out against racism, hunger, gangs, crimes, and turf wars, and promote hope and the spirit of brotherhood.  Eric Burdon and War began playing live shows to audiences throughout Southern California before entering into the studio to record their debut album Eric Burdon Declares “War”. The album’s best known track, “Spill the Wine”, was a hit and launched the band’s career.

The World is a Ghetto

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Walkin’ down the street, smoggy-eyed
Looking at the sky, starry-eyed
Searchin’ for the place, weary-eyed
Crying in the night, teary-eyed

Don’t you know that it’s true
That for me and for you
The world is a ghetto

Don’t you know that it’s true
That for me and for you
The world is a ghetto

Wonder when I’ll find paradise
Somewhere there’s a home sweet and nice
Wonder if I’ll find happiness
Never give it up now I guess

Don’t you know that it’s true
That for me and for you
The world is a ghetto

Don’t you know that it’s true
That for me and for you
The world is a ghetto

There’s no need to search anywhere
Happiness is here, have your share
If you know you’re loved, be secure
Paradise is love to be sure

Don’t you know that it’s true
That for me and for you
The world is a ghetto

Don’t you know that it’s true
That for me and for you
The world is a ghetto

Don’t you know that it’s true
That for me and for you
The world is a ghetto

Don’t you know that it’s true
That for me and for you
The world is a ghetto

(The world is a ghetto)

  • Audio from the 1972 album, The World is a Ghetto:

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Spill the Wine ~ Eric Burdon and War

Eric Burdon was a founding member and vocalist of The Animals, a rock band formed in Newcastle, England in 1962. The Animals, combining electrified blues with rock, were one of the leading bands of the “British Invasion.” Along with, among others, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Dave Clark Five, and The Kinks, the group introduced Americans and the world to British music and fashion, its outspokenness and attitude. Burdon’s powerful, deep voice is featured on such Animal singles as “The House of the Rising Sun”, “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”, “Bring It On Home to Me”, “We’ve Gotta Get Out of This Place“, “Don’t Bring Me Down” and “See See Rider”.

By late 1966 the other original members of The Animals, including keyboardist Alan Price had quit, and Burdon and drummer Barry Jenkins reformed the group as Eric Burdon and the Animals. This more psychedelic incarnation of the group featured future Family member John Weider, and had hits such as “When I Was Young”, “San Franciscan Nights”, “Sky Pilot”, and “Monterey”. This ensemble lasted until 1969, going through several line-up changes sometimes called itself Eric Burdon and the New Animals.

Burdon is claimed by some to be the “Eggman” in The Beatles song “I Am The Walrus“. The reason for this is that Burdon was known as “Eggs” to his friends, from his fondness for breaking eggs over naked girls. Burdon’s biography mentions such an affair taking place in the presence of John Lennon, who shouted “Go on, go get it, Eggman …”

When the New Animals disbanded, Burdon joined forces with funky California jam band War. The resulting album, Eric Burdon Declares “War” yielded “Spill the Wine” and “Tobacco Road”. A second Burdon and War album, a two-disc set, The Black-Man’s Burdon, was released later in September 1970. The singles “Paint it Black” and “They Can’t Take Away Our Music” charted in 1971.

Spill the Wine

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I was once out strolling one very hot summer’s day
When I thought I’d lay myself down to rest
in a big field of tall grass
I lay there in the sun and felt it caressing my face

And I fell asleep and dreamed
I dreamed I was in a Hollywood movie
And that I was the star of the movie
This really blew my mind, the fact that me,
an overfed, long-haired leaping gnome
should be the star of a Hollywood movie

But there I was, I was taken to a place, the hall of the mountain kings
I stood high upon a mountain top, naked to the world
In front of every kind of girl, there was
black ones, round ones, big ones, crazy ones…

Out of the middle came a lady
She whispered in my ear something crazy
She said:

Spill the wine and take that pearl, Spill the wine and take that pearl
Spill the wine and take that pearl, Spill the wine and take that pearl

(::spoken:::)

I thought to myself what could that mean
Am I going crazy or is this just a dream
Now, wait a minute
I know I’m lying in a field of grass somewhere
so it’s all in my head
and then.. I heard her say one more time:

(::sung:::)

Spill the wine and take that pearl, Spill the wine and take that pearl
Spill the wine and take that pearl, Spill the wine and take that pearl

(::spoken:::)
I could feel hot flames of fire roaring at my back
As she disappeared, but soon she returned
In her hand was a bottle of wine, in the other, a glass
She poured some of the wine from the bottle into the glass
And raised it to her lips
And just before she drank it, she said:

(::sung:::)
Spill the wine and take that pearl, Spill the wine and take that pearl
Spill the wine and take that pearl, Spill the wine and take that pearl

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