There are days I really hate my job. In fact, you could probably count the number of days I actually enjoy my job on one hand minus a few fingers…but today, I happen to hate it more than usual. I’m working on a finance module which is about as clear to me as quantum physics. Honestly, I’d rather stick toothpicks in my eye sockets. Unfortunately, do it I must and that means I have to block out all the other bullshit that goes on here at Corporate Hell in order to concentrate…and that means delving into some old school funk and soul. Today, that comes by the way of the ‘The World Is a Ghetto‘ album by War.
This is the 5th album by the band (their 3rd as an act separate from Eric Burdon), released in late 1972 on United Artists Records. The album attained the #1 spot on Billboard, and was Billboard magazine’s Album of the Year as the best-selling album of 1973. In addition to that, it also ranked #444 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
The culmination of everything they’d been shooting for creatively on their two prior albums, it featured work in both succinct pop-accessible idioms (‘The Cisco Kid‘, etc.) as well as challenging extended pieces such as the 13-minute ‘City, Country, City‘ that takes you takes on a musical Sunday afternoon drive – offering spots to all seven members without ever seeming disjointed – and the title track, and encompass not only soul and funk but elements of blues and psychedelia on works such as the exquisite ‘Four Cornered Room‘…which, honestly, is trippy as fuck.
Beyond the quality of the musicianship, the classy, forward-looking production has held up remarkably well, and not just on the most famous cuts here; indeed, ‘The World Is a Ghetto‘ is of a piece with Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On‘ and Curtis Mayfield‘s ‘Curtis‘ (click HERE), utilizing the most sophisticated studio techniques of the era.
Even though there’s only 6 songs, and most of them are fairly long, War was one of the tightest bands on the planet. The main theme of the album really resonates today – even more so here at the office this afternoon – that the world is indeed a ghetto, because no matter where you go, trouble will find you. You can never cut yourself off completely from society (even though some try to). Hey, as the liner notes say, “even a Rolls Royce can get a flat tire”. It’s just unfortunate then that this Rolls Royce (ie. me) doesn’t seem to have a spare today.
At least the tunes rock.