Acoustic Sounds


Greatest Hits



Label: Analogue Productions/Avenue Records

Produced By: Jerry Goldstein in association with Lonnie Jordan

Engineered By: Chris Huston

Lacquers Cut By: Ryan K. Smith at Sterling Sound, Nashville

By: Michael Fremer

May 5th, 2024


Funk Jazz-Funk



War "Greatest Hits"—MORE COWBELL!

war breaks out on vinyl!

For a quick musical pick me up you can't beat War. The group was born during Vietnam war time and now with this release and others, has another lease on jazz-funk life during more war time. Has there ever been a time without it? The story behind the group is at least as interesting as the music is invigorating, so much fun and on top of it all, super-well recorded.

If you're of a certain age you remember these catchy as crabs cowbell infected tunes blaring forth from the radio in the mid-70s. Songs like "Slipping into Darkness" (which we called "Slipping Into Dog Mess"), "Low Rider", "Why Can't We Be Friends?" and "The Cisco Kid" have been lurking in our sub consciousness for decades.

Kids today might think "The Cisco Kid" has something to do with computers but we older folks and I mean really older folks—because the series from which the song title derives began airing in 1950 when few people had televisions and was gone by 1956— know the true derivation. The television show centered on Cisco and his sidekick Pancho who had the thickest Mexican accent—"Hey Ceeeesco!" —both were wanted for some crime or other we never got to learn about but Cisco probably was the inspiration for the "Frito Bandito". Or maybe not. But all the kids loved them both. It was a crazy time.

The band's history revolved around a fellow named Jerry Goldstein who was involved, with Richard Gottehrer, in the semi-novelty hit "My Boyfriend's Back" by The Angels. Gottehrer is a story unto himself. He co-founded Sire Records with the late Seymour Stein, he was instrumental in the career of Richard Hell, Blondie, Madonna etc. and years earlier co-wrote "Hang on Sloopy" and "Sorrow" (covered by Bowie) and "I Want Candy" by The Strangeloves, (a band claiming to be Australian but was not, which was co-written by Bang Records' Bert Berns) in which he was a member! Whew! The backstory is becoming the front story so I'll stop!

But back to this story! Goldstein met this band, and Eric Burdon, who'd just dissolved the final version of The Animals and had been ripped off and was broke and ready to quit music got involved and helped name the band and then a guy involved this group spilled a bottle of wine at Wally Heider's and from that came the song "Spill the Wine" and I could go on but I will stop!

Let's just say WAR had an amazing history on and off the field and if you need a great summation of its career this greatest hits album is the one to have. Unlike many hits compilation this one doesn't suffer much sonic degradation being strung together with tape copies back "in the day" because I've had the original version of this since 1976 and it's always sounded great.

A few years ago there was a record store day version cut by Kevin Gray using the master tape, plated and pressed at GZ Media on sorta gold colored vinyl and it sounded very good and in 2023 there was a RSD box set celebrating the 50th anniversary of the band's first album The World is a Ghetto that includes a second bonus track album filled with jams from the sessions, and an additional triple LP set of the making of The World is a Ghetto for those needing to dig deeply into the War weeds.

The engineer on these records was Chris Huston who earlier was an engineer on Led Zeppelin II and recorded The Rascals' "Groovin'", which has a wooden stick sound that's as incredibly in your room as are the cowbells and other percussion here.

The songs from Greatest Hits that are on the box set, were digitally mastered and cut from files by Bernie Grundman and because the recordings were so good, the digital transfer to vinyl sounds good until you turn it up and then you get the "digital glare" that makes you turn it back down, and that sucks because this music deserves to be turned way up, which you can do with ease on this double 45 from Analogue Productions cut by Ryan Smith, which sounds awesome. All the great cowbell your ears desire. It's such a great recording, spatially, timbrally and in every sonic way.

Yes, you have to get up and turn the record over twice, but at least it's not a jazz album where the music gets interrupted mid tune. Here you get all the tunes divided into four great sides of funk-jazz good times.

Another interesting factoid: on the cartoon cover of The World Is a Ghetto is a place called "Joe Burgers", which is a representation of The Sunset Grill on the Strip that Don Henley wrote "Down at The Sunset Grill" about. Somehow, Joe Froehlich, who owned the place, was involved in the album cover art. If you check out that cover you'll see five stools. I sat on one next to Don Henley when I interviewed him just when as his album Building the Perfect Beast was released. The song has a lyric about the owner calling all the customers by name to him it's all the same or words to the effect.

The song had just come out and we're sitting there and Joe's daughter comes over and says "You are Don Henley! You wrote the song! Papa come here! It's Don Henley!" So Joe comes over looks at Don, throws up his hands as if he's not impressed and it's 'all the same' and he walks out. An epic moment!

This is a really fun record, filled with good grooves, and even better vibes. The group's message "Why Can't We Be Friends?" resonates today! It's a party record suitable for one person or many and this is the best sounding version ever. More cowbell please!

Music Specifications

Catalog No: 149-45

Pressing Plant: Quality Record Pressing


Speed/RPM: 45

Weight: 180 grams

Size: 12"

Channels: Stereo

Source: original analog master tapes

Presentation: Multi LP


  • 2024-05-06 06:20:58 AM

    Come on wrote:

    Wasn’t the Kevin Gray AAA cut done on his Hackensack West tube chain? How does it compare to this one more in detail? This would be interesting!

  • 2024-05-10 08:27:36 PM

    Bruce Nelson wrote:

    Too bad the long version of "Slippin' into Darkness" (7 min) wasn't included.