1975, Music

Why Can’t We Be Friends? (1975) by War

This is my second ever War album but I didn’t remember The World is a Ghetto until I looked up my review. I was going to say they reminded me a little of Earth, Wind and Fire on this one, but not that much. (In the sense of combining ballads and funk on the same album.) Re-reading that review made me think about them differently.

Of course I know “Low Rider” and the title track. They were the only War songs I’d ever heard before listening to The World is a Ghetto. I regret to tell you that they are the best songs on this album. (Well, um, “Low Rider” is the best song on the album. The title track is not as good, as you know.) The rest of the album isn’t anywhere near as catchy. (That shouldn’t be a surprise.) Though some of the songs might work a bit better than the title track.

My biggest issue is the vibe: at times they sound like the War of “Low Rider”, at times they sound like a more Latin, less science fiction (and bat shit insane) Funkadelic, and at times they sound like the smooth side of Earth, Wind and Fire. I’m all for diversity but I’m not sure I’m for this kind of diversity. Specifically, slick soul ballads didn’t do anything for me in the ’60s and they don’t do anything for me in the ’70s. (And they sure don’t do anything for me in the ’80s and ’90s.) But with some of these bands, the slick soul ballads feel like some kind of requirement. Like you’re only a funk band unless you can pull it off. But Earth, Wind and Fire write better songs, so they at least have a leg up there. (And they are a more diverse band than War.)

And when they do lean into the straight-up funk, it doesn’t necessarily always work as well as the more Latin-flavoured stuff. Like “Heartbeat” is just way too long. It might work live, but it doesn’t work that well for me.

I like some of this album. My problem is I just don’t like the whole thing. I guess I like about half of it. I definitely enjoyed their earlier album substantially more, even though this one has the hits.


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