“I remember hearing Gates of Delirium get played on commercial radio when it was new, all twenty-two minutes of it. I remember my fifteen year old jaw dropping. It would’ve been late 1974, maybe 1975. Little did I realize that an era was fast ending – that very soon the culture would have little use for bands like Yes spreading their vast and cosmic wings, unleashing dense and intense and impossibly beautiful side long epics about mystical warriors in mythical lands busting through great gates of delirium. Or whatever it was actually about. It was definitely about war, burning children’s laughter on to hell. I remember a few years later, a musician friend saying, ‘But it’s really about everything. That’s the problem with Yes. Their songs aren’t really about anything. Just everything. But f***, those guys can play.'” (Philip Random)
War being one of those bands who sounded like no other, All Day Music (their second album without former front man Eric Burdon) being pumped full of the sort of grooves and melodies that could warm up any day. With Nappy Head a most effective re-purposing of the groove from big deal Burdon driven novelty hit Spill the Wine. The fun but silly story gets dumped. The music has room to truly breathe.
“Have I raved enough yet about how indispensably, imperfectly essential the Clash’s Sandinista is? Probably not. Three slabs of vinyl, thirty-six songs, jams, dubs, meltdowns, whatever you want to call them. Not World Music so much as what the world actually sounded like in 1980-81, including war, here-there-everywhere, young men being called up, sent off to do and die. Which is what The Call-Up‘s about (from about halfway through Side Four). Don’t go, young man. Don’t fall for the patriotic bullsh** of old men whose blood won’t be doing the spilling. Remember that rose you want to live for.” (Philip Random)
Edwin Starr was the big voice behind War (what is it good for?), one of the great singles from 1970, or any other year for that matter. Here he’s pulling back a bit, weary of it all just wanting some way out of the madhouse of modern life.
Imagine was the big deal John Lennon song of the moment (all that pie-in-the-sky god-free utoptianism). But I Don’t Wanna Be A Soldier Mama was selling a harder, louder 1971 truth. Because the Vietnam War just kept dragging on, and even if it did end soon, everybody knew there’d be another one coming along soon to keep all the young boys busy tearing each other apart, so they wouldn’t have time to wise up, turn on the old men whose corrupt souls kept conjuring the f***ing things.
This one’s from the second and last album Eric Burdon recorded with War, and a sprawling four-sided epic it was. But Mr. Burdon, who’d lived the 1960s the way you were supposed to (ie: beyond the limit), just wasn’t up to it. He crashed and burned one night on stage and showbiz being showbiz, War carried on without him, because they were really just getting started, like a beautiful new born child.