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War At Bowen Fieldhouse

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WAR is a band with a skippy beat and I the modified mod sound. They sing (and chant) with their own unmistakable harmonies, then their harmonica man Lee Oskar overstains the sound with cherished accents. However, at this point in their career, they lack a representative repertoire. They're like a musical iceberg, with the good stuff floating above the water, and the flabby numbers sinking below. I may be cuckoo, but I think the tested numbers like "Cisco Kid" and "Slippin' Into Darkness" were still best. They inspire the soul.

But most of the other were 1-plus-1-is-2 riffs repeated once too often before someone would stand up and solo. Sometimes in order to be more exciting the band would just play faster until they couldn't anymore.

Individually impressive, besides Oskar on harmonica, were rhythm members Harold Brown on drums and B.B. Dickerson on bass. They make it look so easy that anybody could do it. The sax work was skimpy and the rhythm section was overly-stylized; consequently the band lacked some polyphonic dynamics. The chants, though effective as hell at times, at other times eluded me completely. And guitarist-leader Harold Brown, who distributed frisbees, fiddled with his guitar strap and tried to sing Grand Ole Opry style, was an all out bozo.

Only one set was chanced and it was stingy.

--Jim Juback