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That Time When WAR Shouldered the Weight of the World…Smoggy-Eyed


WAR – The World is a Ghetto (United Artists – 1972)

By A. Scott Galloway radio facts,radio djs,urban adult,Urban Radio,
urban radio personalities, rap radio stations,r&b radio station, hip hop music radio, black female singers “To us, the whole concept of the musical idol and the fan has become passé’. We are street people…our music often comes from the street level. It’s an extension of The People and those people identify most heavily with us.The Music is Us and We are The Music. We are simply doing what every musician really wants to do…drawing our music from everything about us.” – Sylvester “Papa Dee” Allen (Conguero y Percussionist of WAR) If Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” in 1971 was the eternal QUESTION about the state of the planet and human relations – scored to a lush celestial soundtrack of rhythm, strings and chorus – WAR’s “The World is a Ghetto” from the following year, 1972,was the eternal ANSWER – a stark statement of universal truth set to music that felt like a hazy shade of sundown. The song was an equalizer - a musical lighthouse of earth blues wisdom that struck a mystic nerve for a pan cultural constituency. And in its full uncut 10:10 glory as the centerpiece and title track of the band’s third album (fifth if you include the two they recorded in collaboration with English rocker Eric Burdon), it was a unifying, moody blues masterpiece brewed from a gumbo of gospel organ, psychedelic guitars, urban horror tenor jazz, Amen corner harmonica and a “smmfh” bottom of have mercy bass, drums and percussion - a sound and a vibration only WAR – known in an earlier incarnation as The Creators - could make. WAR – a southern California septet - made music that was communal in the sense that while you could completely lose yourself in the mastery, you were more often compelled to add your voice. Their sound was tribal yet nondenominational, connectingto your spirit like a familial embrace. Their songs kicked insight into troubles of the world, empathy for our internal and external struggles, steeled optimism and a freeing funk to shake off the shackles of whatever was ailing ye. The World is a Ghetto is roundly viewed as both the critical and commercial highpoint of WAR – the crystal distillation of their all-natural essences. Following the breakthrough success of their second album All Day Music which included the serene summer chill of the title track and the ferocious out of body experience of “Slippin’ Into Darkness” (the groove Bob Marley copped the inspiration to later write the revolutionary Reggae anthem “Get Up, Stand Up”), WAR hunkered down in Crystal Industries Studio in L.A. for a now-fabled 30-day lockout, jamming, composing, editing and assembling what would become a mind-altering master stroke of `70s Soul – 30 days to cut a 6-song diamond. Its contents moved seamlessly from outright silly to downright soul-stirring. The album opens with what would be selected as its lead-off single for radio, “The Cisco Kid,”largely composed and sung by guitarist HowardScott in tribute to his childhood TV western serial hero (played by Duncan Renaldo). Howard being Howard, he embellished the character with the superpower of being able to ride into town blasting away the bad guys with a pistol in one hand while swiggin’ whisky or port wine in the other! The song is deceptive in its perceived simplicity when, in fact, it is a funky 16-bar blues with Latin and Reggae crosscurrents. Lyrically, it regales the listener with multiple episodes in Cisco’s travels in six catchy, highly repetitive verses, filled in with the group’s infectious background vocal camaraderie,a Greek chorus of harmonica and clarinet, even snatches of Spanglish dialogue. Overflowing with fun, the song actually performed better at Top 40 radio, peaking at #2 on Billboard’s Top Pop Singles chart and #5 R&B. Next up is “Where Was You At,” a serious admission of abandonment in hour of need made light by drummer Harold Brown’s bouncy New Orleans beat, and keyboardist Lonnie Jordan’s rollicking piano and organ – “real Baptist church stuff,” as Howard Scott describes it. This one was mostly penned and sung by sax man Charles Millerand is eerily prophetic when one listens now knowing the tragic fate Miller met when he was stabbed to death 8 years later in a harrowing ambush/robbery in a motel room. Throughout The World is a Ghettoand, indeed, all of WAR’s albums until his departure, Miller would bring nothing less than the composite, abstract AND absolute Truth to every contribution he made. That Truth begins in the next selection that closed Side 1, “City, Country, City.”The sprawling 13-and-a-half-minute instrumental that began life as a wistful melody that Danish-born harmonica master Lee Oskar brought in inspired by Bobby Hebb’s `66 Soul-Pop hit, “Sunny.” After WAR met football-star-turned-actor Fred Williamson on Don Cornelius’ “Soul Train” TV show and the band was asked to write some music for his upcoming western “The Legend of Nigger Charley,” WAR used Lee’s melody as the foundation for an audio travelogue that would mirror Charley’s freedom ride through the old west in and out of rapidly developing urban environs. In stereotypical Hollywood fashion, when the film’s producers weren’t offering money nor credits that were right, the band made spiked lemonade outta the bitter citrus to become WAR’s first “Jazz” classic. Without the confining subtext of the film’s storyline, the evocative instrumental became a movie for the mind. To this writer, the opening of Howard Scott’s tender acoustic guitar against keyboardist Lonnie Jordan’s reverent organ was like the birth of the mythical Seventh Son –a boy destined for a life of epic ups and downs. The harmonica melody becomes the recurring theme of purity and nobility constantly challenged by shape shifting demons and the slaying of dragons set to the soundtrack of Charles Miller’s wailing saxophone lines over a relentless bass-driven groove. Charles’ hot house horn dually conveys the hellish evils of mankind as well as the strength of our underdog’s perseverance to prevail! Then the horn dovetails into a boiling cauldron organ solo and the percussion breakdown that sounds like an underwater pursuit thru Far East Mississippi all the way back to The River Niger where our golden child emerges on the bank: a man…with a stone-cold story to tell in Howard Scott’s now electric guitar blues. (Note: WAR was not alone in their Hollywood movie music debacle. Billy Preston snatched his theme song “The Legend of Nigger Charley” back, shortened the title to “Nigger Charlie,” slapped it on his Music is My Life LP(A&M-1972) and rode off into the sunset, telling err’body to kiss his happy Black ass! The movie made due with a genre score by John Bennings and songs by Soul man Lloyd Price.) Side 2 of The World is a Ghetto aridly opens with “Four Cornered Room,”the seed of which was brought in by bassist B.B. Dickerson, conjured by the meditative state he fell into the first time he smoked hashish. Drummer Harold Brown handles the spoken word offering early in the piece, B.B. sings the verses while the background soul shouting came from keyboardist Lonnie Jordan. Engineer Chris Huston used a lot of phasing on the track, lending a hazy, somewhat spooky vibe to the music (especially Lee Oskar’s mournful harmonica ad libs) and WAR’s signature unison/harmony vocals (most terrifyingly the “zoom-Zoom-ZOOOOOM” line). The ringing gong was a recurring WAR effect dating back to their first album Eric Burdon Declares “WAR” which boasted the psychedelic effect of a gong being struck, allowing the sound to slowly dissipate in real time to silence. Then the tape was played backwards, growing louder until it exploded at the original striking point leading into the street corner ballad “You’re No Stranger.” “Four Cornered Room” is a headphone masterpiece about climbing inside one’s own mind for a clearer understanding of his/her “higher” inner self. This leads into the centerpiece/title track “The World is a Ghetto,” a concept and lyric brought in by Percussionist Papa Dee Allen which was essentially that all people on the planet have the same basic desires and struggles regardless of race, culture or economic status. B.B. Dickerson sings this one with passion and connection unparalleled. Matching him emotion for emotion, again, is the peerless Charles Miller on tenor saxophone. Miller, a June 2 Gemini who practiced his woodwinds and other instruments faithfully 5 hours a day, never merely blew his tenor sax.He breathed through it…a circular, lyrical approach that made his sound another “voice” within the group. Also happening on this recording are two things: Charles overdubbing subtle answers to his own solo in the track, plus engineer Chris Huston panning between one take of a solo with another, sculpting one of the greatest saxophone statements ever recorded – as singular and brilliant in its genius as a Charlie Parker or John Coltrane solo. SO much emotion and blues flow from the horn as Charles animates every word of the lyric into musical form – soft, long-winding lines like the wonder of looking at the sky starry-eyed to crying in the night (more howling at the moon) teary-eyed. Stopping time to build and subside, the solo is a story within the story…Charles Miller had been wailing such profound musical statements since his “Mr. Charlie” solo within the “Blues For Memphis Slim / Mother Earth” suite on their debut,Eric Burdon Declares “WAR.” Fittingly, “The World is a Ghetto” was covered by jazz legends James Moody (hauntingly on flute) and pianist Ahmad Jamal (who, in tandem with arranger Richard Evans, integrated elements from his own classic “Poinciana”). Guitarist George Benson bumped up the tempo on his to make it a more driving yet no less blues-based rumination. When WAR morphed into it’s The Music Band incarnation in the `80s, they picked up on G.B.’s tip and rocked it faster, too. In 2017, Lowrider Band (the name Howard Scott, Harold Brown and Lee Oskar now tour and record under due to ongoing litigation) perform “The World is a Ghetto” with current saxophonist Lance Ellis taking a fiery solo that builds to a shattering climax only to be handed off to Lee Oskar on harmonica who takes it to Pluto – a beautiful new arrangement that extends the legacy with poignance and glory. Additionally, vocalists Phil Perry and Will Downing cut club covers. And hardcore Houston rap trio Geto Boys covered it with a funk reggae flip. Unlike “The Cisco Kid” which did better on the Pop chart, a severe radio edit of WAR’s “The World is a Ghetto” hit Black listeners in a deep-deep place, peaking #3 R&B, #7 Pop. The riveting album cover art work for The World is a Ghetto was created by Howard Miller (no relation to Charles) from a sketch by Lee Oskar (who doubled as Art Designer for most of WAR’s album packages) brilliantly encapsulated the statement being made within the lyrics. The smoggy L.A. street scene depicts everyday people on the avenue and behind windowsills rapping, eating, fussin’, lovin’ and otherwise getting through the day the best they can…including the wary,well-to-do Black man whose Rolls Royce has the misfortune of catching a flat tire in the hood. That brother, his ride and his chauffeur are the only elements in color on this otherwise blue-tinted black & white painting, yet his blues are the same blues as everybody else’s. This gets to the essence not only what this song and album are about but WAR as a manifestation of it. We are One and The Same. Still, in all its too often underappreciated conceptual depth, WAR was always good for a WTF moment on its LPs. On The World is a Ghetto, that ditty is “Beetles in the Bog” which closes an otherwise mind-blowing album on a confounding and quizzical note. This oddity was brought in by Lee with lyrics penned by his then-wife Keri and feels like a folk song – from what “folk” only they could tell you!The music takes this listener to a crackling campfire in a clearing surrounded by thick forest as darkness falls upon the land and spirits are awakened to get buck wild and free to the soundtrack of a fevered gypsy round rumpus. Adding tropical color is the rare novel WAR inclusion of Caribbean steel pans gayly ringing in the backdrop. Moral: All WAR parties come to a carnivalesque conclusion! WAR would take you to deepest darkest truths but always leave you with light and hope. WAR’s The World is a Ghetto reached #1 and was on the chart for 68 weeks in industry Bible Billboard Magazine which also named it Album of the Year. It sold over 3 million copies. This month – November 2017 - marks the 45th anniversary of its milestone release. SEE MORE OF A. SCOTT GALLOWAY'S REVIEWS HERE I leave the last word to one of my greatest musical heroes, Charles Miller, quoted from an interview within the new book “Slippin’ Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR”: “…what he had in mind when we chose (WAR) as a name for our group was the fact that ‘war’ has deeper, more universally pertinent meanings – the personal and exterior forms of violence we have all felt…the internal, emotional war raging within us…personal, spiritual war…wars of mental and spiritual nature(s) which are personal and idealistic.” - A. Scott Galloway (The writer dedicates this essay to the 27th wedding anniversary of Howard & Jennifer Scott, the memories of Sylvester “Papa Dee” Allen and Charles Miller, and in homage to the 2017 transitions of L.A.-based percussionists Darrell Harris and Bobby Matos. Respect and Love.)  

On Benjamin Crump’s Communication Skills

[caption id="attachment_242779" align="alignnone" width="1024"]radio facts,radio djs,urban adult,Urban Radio,
urban radio personalities, rap radio stations,r&b radio station, hip hop music radio, black female singers (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images)[/caption]

...when you are in representing somebody in a courtroom, where life and death could hang in the balance, should you not go the extra mile on your presentation?

This is constructive in every meaning and intention of the word. It is not an attack on Benjamin Crump. Ben has done a great job of representing the community and his intentions for all intents and purposes are good.

This is about all the college professors, high school teachers and others who "lead" others. Communication skills are still the key to success and they don't have to be excellent but they should reflect your target audience. With all the BS electives that we take in college, why to make drama or speech and communication a requirement? A couple of decades ago, Magic Johnson had the same issue and he took care of the problem by consulting with a speech therapist.

While I am aware of what goes on in court and who plays an integral part in a case like the prosecution, defense, judge, witnesses, jury, evidence etc I am not a legal expert but I am a communications professional. How often do we consider the communication skills of an attorney and how that plays a part in presenting a case and/or reaching the jury? The loss of a black boy or a black man's life be it from a white cop or anyone else is tragic.  Condolences to Mike Brown and Trayvon Martin's family for their losses but I want to dig deeper and talk to radio pros about something I noticed during the Mike Brown Grand Jury decision as well as Trayvon's trial.

It's very difficult to be a professional radio announcer and publish a site targeting other radio pros and not be aware of Attorney Benjamin Crump's communication skills. Crump was one of the attorneys for both Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown's families. Crump reminds me of Christopher Darden, (pictured) remember him during the loss in the OJ Simpson trial? This is not to discredit Crump's experience and expertise, from all appearances, he is extremely well versed in law and has abundant knowledge.

Urban Radio Pros Know this...

As radio pros we KNOW that our job is to move, inspire, encourage, entertain and educate our audiences.  I'm not saying anyone has to speak in a way that is foreign to them but when you are in representing somebody in or out of a courtroom situation, where life and death could hang in the balance, should you not go the extra mile on your presentation? It has always been my thinking that attorneys and professors should take acting and speech classes in college as part of their training since there are SO many electives that we will never use in life, why not make this a required course?

When I heard Benjamin Crump speak during the CNN coverage of the looting after he and the prosecutor did not return with an inducement, I was shocked at what I heard. This is not the first time I have heard him speak but I realized I immediately tuned him out when I heard him before because I had to work too hard to interpret and understand what he was saying and his poor energy in addition did not leave me the option to do that. Is this what the prosecution and as a result, the jury did too (Trayvon Martin trial)?

It's not just the pronunciation of words, it's the inflection, modulation and overall delivery that gets the message across and you don't have to be the BEST speaker to do it but where you lack in one area it certainly helps to gain strength in another. When you are flat in all areas there is a problem. The quality of any leader lies in his ability to communicate.

Communication skills are PARAMOUNT to get you from point A to point B and it is also an integral part of one being taken seriously. I'm not talking about your use of the English language as much as I'm talking about the combination of the use and/or your ability to persuade, convince, sell, motivate and encourage. I would think those are the qualities any good attorney needs to succeed. At least the ones that I know have those qualities. When you look at hip hop music it's the same thing, the best rappers don't rap like white people talk but they are able to convince, sell, encourage, motivate, etc. I have seen very angry people yelling and screaming or suffering from a loss in a foreign language but their pain and frustration is still recognizable and transcribed.

If you were watching American Idol and a great singer came out and was singing with her head down and arms glued to her side, she had no motivation, never made eye contact and didn't use her space, how apt would you be to listen to her and believe her? Moreover, vote for her? Was she able to convince you with such limited effort? Being a great singer is just the start.

Benjamin's communication skills may or may not be the catalyst that lost both the Trayvon Martin case AND the attempt to garner an indictment for Darren Wilson but he was the family attorney and the face of both cases  and he will go down in history as the attorney who lost not one but two historic cases even though he did not technically lose the cases he was the attorney who represented the families.  Mike Brown's parents probably hired Crump's team to represent them after his involvement in losing the landmark Trayvon Martin case... Pro Bono, perhaps, it was the best they could do. I cannot blame them for that but did they have any other options? It was a very high-profile case. It would seem there would have been other attorneys wanting to be on board.  How apt would you have been to hire an attorney to represent you who was involved in a similar case that lost?

Great Communication Sells Ideas, Thoughts and Goals and Influences Others

Without question St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch, may not be likable but he does have great communication skills. During the press conference, he was very believable for most of his speech, even if you didn't like him... you listened to him. Even though it was long and drawn out you heard every word he said and it didn't bother you as much that he was taking too long to state whether or not Darren Wilson would be indicted.  (By the way, these are the types of jobs, spokespersons, that older radio Radio DJs would be great for if they only apply). He did not do as well during the question and answer period which began to discredit his previous believable segment and that's probably when a lot of black people lost interest. He became defensive, he lost his "cool" effect and he came off like he was an elitist and insulted by a couple of the reporter's questions. If you look at the video you can sense the anger in the minority reporters who asked questions as well, they maintained themselves but once again, they were able to communicate their feelings through their body language and their questions.

When you see great attorneys in the courtroom they are often very animated and they always have excellent communication skills, they know how to make the jury think and witnesses break down, it's not just about asking the right questions it's about the WAY the questions are asked and how they are answered. Who can remember Johnny Cochran during the OJ trial? He was educated, informed, animated, unpredictable, interesting creative, dramatic and convincing. Overall, he had great communication skills. A politician is not going to get the vote if he is not able to communicate with voters and a professor is going to have a lot of sleepy students and failing grades to give out if he or she does not know how to communicate.

When you look at Maxine Waters (pictured) and you are from the black community you are immediately able to relate to her persona. Who didn't have a mother, aunt, teacher or neighbor or woman at the church that Maxine reminds them of? She has your attention right away and she keeps it.

Not Always Used for Good

Great communicators get your attention and can sway you in their direction even when they are wrong. Some of the worst leaders in the world were able to get people to follow them because of their communication skills. Con artists are able to rip people off because of their great communication skills. They make you think they are the vulnerable ones and that they can be taken advantage of and people fall for it and lose. The ability may not always be used for good but it has to be used if you are trying to convince someone. You have to be able to enlighten, educate, inform, reach and touch your audience.

If the odds are already stacked against us when it comes to the legal system, would it not behoove us to at least be completely prepared? You can tighten up your communication skills, it's not something that cannot be worked on and changed for the better.

I want to clarify that Benjamin Crump can do whatever he wants to do. If he feels that he is effective the way that he is than that's his choice and option to do so.


BREAKING NEWS: J Anthony Brown Exits Tom Joyner Morning Show (TJMS)

Originally posted Jan 13, 2016. Remember when J. Anthony Brown quit the Tom Joyner Morning Show (TJMS) on the air?

Sources have informed Radio Facts that comedian J Anthony Brown has exited his longstanding post with the Tom Joyner Morning show. Brown, according to sources is allegedly upset about the pay and another new syndicated host getting a larger salary from Reach Media....

Today J. Anthony Brown surprised Tom Joyner , Sybil Wilkes and the production staff of the Tom Joyner Morning Show (TJMS) with the following: After the end of the first break, at 6:10am CT, the hour the following exchanged occurred - ON AIR - 6:10 am (Tom Joyner taking the show to break) Tom Joyner : Ten, ten past the hour OFF AIR Tom Joyner : Player, you feel alright? J. Anthony Brown: Huh? Tom Joyner : You feel alright today? J. Anthony Brown: No, I don’t feel good. Uh, in fact I’m quitting. I’m quitting today. (laughter from Tom and Sybil) You guys can have it, man. I’ve had enough of this, seriously. Bye (more laughter from Tom and Sybil) Sybil Wilkes: (chucking) Bye? What’s the matter? Tom Joyner : I don’t know. Did he just cut the mic? Player?...Player? Off air Tom asked if J. Anthony Brown was alright. J. responded the he was not and that he was “quitting.” Both Tom and Sybil responded with laughter followed by J. Anthony Brown saying he was serious and no further response. After several tries to reconnect with Brown, Tom Joyner attempted to reach out to him in both a personal and professional way ending with all surprised that he had actually left the studio. J. Anthony Brown is currently under contract with Reach Media Inc. and the Tom Joyner Morning Show (TJMS) . There is a plan to discuss today’s events with Brown. Tomorrow on The Tom Joyner Morning Show (TJMS) the Party with a Purpose® continues with weekly co-host Sherri Shepherd, correspondent Don Lemon and guests Marlon Wayans, Affion Crocket, Charlie Murphy and Omari Hardwick; as well as TJMS co-host and daily regulars Sybil Wilkes, Huggy Lowdown and comedian Chris Paul.

Hear Audio of J Anthony Brown Quitting.

We will keep all updated as information is received.  

Steve Harvey Talks about You Drinking Poison and Waiting for Your Enemies to Die

Radio Facts: On today's show Steve Harvey talks about drinking poison and waiting for your enemies to die. We've all been there...