The World Is a Ghetto

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The World Is a Ghetto is the fifth album by American band War, released in late 1972 on United Artists Records. The album attained the number one spot on Billboard, and was Billboard magazine's Album of the Year as the best-selling album of 1973.[2] In addition to being Billboard's #1 album of 1973, the album was ranked number 444 on Rolling Stone magazine's original list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[3] The title track became a gold record.[citation needed]

The World Is a Ghetto
Studio album by
ReleasedNovember 1972
StudioCrystal Industries in Los Angeles
LabelUnited Artists Records
ProducerJerry Goldstein with Lonnie Jordan and Howard E. Scott
War chronology
All Day Music
The World Is a Ghetto
Deliver the Word

Cover edit

The cover illustration, a light-hearted drawing showing a Rolls-Royce with a flat tire in a ghetto, was drawn by Howard Miller, with Lee Oskar credited with album concept.[4]

It uses a blue and black colour pallet as a reference to the melancholy nature of the album.

Alternate formats edit

The album was also made available in a 4-channel surround sound (quadraphonic) mix in the 8-track tape format (United Artists UA-DA178-H).[5]

Critical reception edit

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [6]
Christgau's Record GuideB[7]
Rolling Stone     [10]

In a contemporary review for Rolling Stone, Gordon Fletcher said The World Is a Ghetto found War progressing further in the arena of soul and jazz music, and "closer to total mastery of their music as they attempt to use it to communicate the essence of ghetto life".[11] Robert Christgau was less enthusiastic in Creem, believing he "should love this big Afro-roots band" in theory, but was critical of the fairly slow quality of the music and the lyrics, calling it "blackstrap-rock".[8] He singled out the "jazz pretensions" of "Four Cornered Room" and "City, Country, City", finding the latter's rhythmic foundation solid but the song too long and mawkish.[7]

In a retrospective review, Bruce Eder from AllMusic said the album's music encompassed "not only soul and funk but elements of blues and psychedelia" and a "classy, forward-looking production" comparable to Curtis Mayfield's 1970 album Curtis and Marvin Gaye's What's Going On (1971).[6] The Crisis journalist Bruce Britt identified The World Is a Ghetto as one of the few Black rock recordings that became a classic within the pan-African community during FM rock radio's segregation of African-American rock acts in the 1970s,[12] a viewpoint echoed by music historian Jefferson Morley.[13] The Washington Post critic Geoffrey Himes names it an exemplary release of the progressive soul development from 1968 to 1973.[14]

Track listing edit

All tracks composed by War (Papa Dee Allen, Harold Brown, B. B. Dickerson, Lonnie Jordan, Charles Miller, Lee Oskar, Howard E. Scott).

Side one edit

  1. "The Cisco Kid" – 4:35
  2. "Where Was You At" – 3:25
  3. "City, Country, City" – 13:18

Side two edit

  1. "Four Cornered Room" – 8:30
  2. "The World Is a Ghetto" – 10:10
  3. "Beetles in the Bog" – 3:51

CD bonus tracks edit

In 2012 the album was re-released on CD in a 40th anniversary expanded edition with 4 previously unreleased bonus tracks.[15]

  1. "Freight Train Jam" - 5:41
  2. "58 Blues" - 5:26
  3. "War Is Coming - Blues version" - 6:15
  4. "The World Is a Ghetto - Rehearsal take" - 8:06

Personnel edit


Charts edit

Year Album Chart positions[16]
1972 The World Is a Ghetto 1 1

Singles edit

Singles from the album include "The World Is a Ghetto" backed with "Four Cornered Room", and "The Cisco Kid" backed with "Beetles in the Bog".

Year Single Chart positions[17]
1973 "The Cisco Kid" 2 5
"The World Is a Ghetto" 7 3

Certifications edit

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[18] Gold 500,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Martin, Bill (1998), Listening to the Future: The Time of Progressive Rock, Chicago: Open Court, p. 205, ISBN 0-8126-9368-X
  2. ^ "Year End Charts - Year-end Albums - The Billboard 200". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Archived from the original on February 14, 2008. Retrieved May 13, 2011.
  3. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time Rolling Stone's definitive list of the 500 greatest albums of all time". Rolling Stone. 2012. Retrieved September 2, 2019.
  4. ^ "War – The World Is A Ghetto - Original release". 1972. Retrieved 2015-06-30.
  5. ^ Anderson, Mark. "Quadraphonic Popular Recordings (W)". Archived from the original on 2008-04-10.
  6. ^ a b Allmusic review
  7. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (1981). "War: The World Is a Ghetto". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the '70s. Da Capo Press. ISBN 0306804093. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
  8. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (April 1973). "The Christgau Consumer Guide". Creem. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
  9. ^ Garner, Sadie Sartini (16 December 2023). "War: The World Is a Ghetto: 50th Anniversary Collector's Edition Album Review". Pitchfork.
  10. ^ Walters, Barry (August 22, 2002). "War: The World Is a Ghetto". Rolling Stone. No. 903. Archived from the original on February 20, 2008. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
  11. ^ Fletcher, Gordon (March 1, 1973). "War: The World Is a Ghetto". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on June 19, 2008. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
  12. ^ Britt, Bruce. "Black Rock Revival". The Crisis. No. Autumn 2008. p. 19.
  13. ^ Morley, Jefferson (1992). "Introduction". In Stanley, Lawrence A. (ed.). Rap: The Lyrics. Penguin Books. p. xvii. ISBN 0140147888.
  14. ^ Himes, Geoffrey (May 16, 1990). "Records". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 26, 2021.
  15. ^ "War – The World Is A Ghetto - 40th Anniversary Edition". 2 May 2013. Retrieved 2015-06-30.
  16. ^ "War US albums chart history". Retrieved 2011-07-13.
  17. ^ "War US singles chart history". Retrieved 2011-07-13.
  18. ^ "American album certifications – War – The World Is a Ghetto". Recording Industry Association of America.

External links edit