It had been somewhat quiet from DJ Platurn and his remixes and edits that I have been enjoying in the last few years. After a brief break from his audio manipulations, Platurn is back and this time he goes back to 1975 for a twist up of War’s hit song, “Low Rider.” We’ve heard the song in films and TV shows, perhaps on a television commercial but it’s safe to say you haven’t heard this new version. Take a little trip with Platurn and find out whether he takes it a little lower or just a little higher.
Originally performed and recorded as boogie for their 1971 album All Day Music, War revived “Me And Baby Brother” two years later, changed the arrangement, and played it as the first track on Side 2 of my favorite War album, Deliver The Word (which celebrated its 40th anniversary last month). DJ Platurn gets into his editing ways again and put this one, in honor of Howard Scott, B.B. Dickerson, Lonnie Jordan, Harold Brown, Papa Dee Allen, Charles Miller, Lee Oskar, and engineer Chris Huston, who not only worked on most of War’s prime recordings on United Artists Records, but also took part in the recording of Led Zeppelin II (“The Lemon Song”, “Moby Dick”, and “Bring It On Home”) and a portion of The Who Sell Out.
BTW: for me, I remember the 45 for “Me And Baby Brother” this way but whatever way you may remember it, this Platurn Edit is now available as a free download, while supplies last. Get it now.
Taiwan vinyl pressings are terrible. If you wanted a quality pressing, some could opt for a Japanese or German pressing, or honor the “get the pressing from the home country of the artist” theory. A lot of times the Taiwan pressings seem like they were made from recycled vinyl, similar to what many Jamaican labels have done, or simply from sub-standard material. The material to produce the covers were flimsy, merely the same material used to make movie posters, and put into a plastic sleeve. The benefit if a Taiwan pressing? Sometimes the cover art would be different, or they’d use the negatives and templates in a different way than the normal Western pressing. In some instances, like the cover for Black Sabbath’s Master Of Reality, the photo of the band in a forest/near trees becomes the cover.
At the time, there were no official major label distributors in Taiwan but they were given master tapes and cover art, only for it to look different. If a cover was die-cut or had embossed graphics, you would not get that on a Taiwan pressing. However, I just discovered this on a website. This is the cover for War’s Why Can’t We Be Friends (catalog # SB-3104). We know the cover for the drawing of a big white face, big smile with a gold tooth. This is not that, nor is it the poster that came with the album. It looks like the United Artists or Far Out staff in a parking lot, celebrating the release of the album. The other interesting thing is that it says “Coming June 16”. Checking Wikipedia, the page there shows the album was released in June 1975, so I added the 16th so that people will now be able to know when it was released.
Since I don’t have this album with me, nor have I ever seen this photo, I have to ask: where is this photo from and where was it taken? Since it says “Coming June 16”, was this from an advertisement for the album or a press release? Most album covers do not place the release date on the front, because you’d already have the album, it wouldn’t matter. Now, I do have the music tablature book for The World Is A Ghetto album, did this photo originate for a book that may have been for this album? If anyone knows the source of the pic, please reply to this article below. Thank you.
War became known internationally when they served as Eric Burdon‘s backing band after leaving The Animals. Their collaboration, “Spill The Wine”, was a massive hit and continues to receive airplay to this day. It also offered a chance for people to hear a side of music from Los Angeles many were not familiar with. It would take their separation before War became known for music under their own terms. Their second album, All Day Music, gave us “Slippin’ Into Darkness” and the title track, but it was with their third album, 1971’s The World Is A Ghetto, that would move them forward as being not only one of the best bands out of L.A., but California and the United States. The illustrated cover, a snapshot of their vision of the ghetto as being a place of unity and harmony rather than the slum it is often portrayed as, became as famous as their music and logo.
Casual has been down with the Hieroglyphics crew for years, and he is about to release a brand new album called He Still Think We Raw, with a title that’s pretty much a direct comment to people who may think he doesn’t have what it takes to rhyme in 2012. He’ll prove you wrong, and he has started by offering one of the tracks as a free download, called “Rock My Shit”.
As you can see, Casual pays homage to The World Is A Ghetto, showing that 41 years later, the means of the ghetto may still be the same, but if the world is one, it helped to make hip-hop a worldwide phenomenon, thus He Still Think We Raw is merely an additional stitch to the fabric of music, hip-hop, culture, and life in general. Proceed forward.
This is not the world famous band from Los Angeles, but a punk group from Copenhagen, Denmark called War, and they’re about to release a 7″ EP on Sacred Bones called At War For Youth.
The 3-songs on the 7″ were originally recorded on cassette and done in a lo-fi fashion, which will please fans who like their music to sound raw. The record will be released on February 21st.
Everyone remembers their first. When the Sony Corporation were introducing music projects for children in the 1980’s, they called it the “My First Sony” line, which involved everything from mini-TV sets, portable cassette players with microphones, and a kiddie version of the Walkman, to clock radios and keyboards. Before that, it was my dad who provided us with my first look and listen to Sony products, and eventually they would become my toys too but there was another product that would become my official start of my listening experience.
I do know that I went to Toys-R-Us, it was one of my favorite toy stores. Do I remember any of the toys I received, absolutely not. I don’t remember if I received it as a birthday or Christmas gift, and I was too young to care about holiday observances to know or care. All I know is that one day, I had an orange record player called the Close’N’Play, made by Kenner, and I felt so happy. I don’t remember the stereo my parents had, I just remember hearing music and playing records. If there was a song I was moved by, I’d glance at the label or look at the “big record cover”. My mom had a box of 45’s, and I clearly remember this, and I don’t know why. It was a 45 on the Metromedia label, so it was a lighter shade of blue with the M on the top, where the M had a few lines to create the design of the M. The record was by someone named Bobby Sherman, a pop singer who was a sensation with girls and apparently the ladies. In fact, there was a story passed on in my family that when Sherman performed in Honolulu, one of my aunties spent some time with him. When I had heard this story, I thought “oh, is this why my mom has his record?” but in truth my mom just loved the song. I honestly don’t remember the name of the record in the box of 45’s, but as I look on eBay, for some reason the only title that pops up in my mind is “La La La”. I don’t know if the story with Sherman and one of my aunties is true or if it was some childhood crush/fantasy but for me, the only thing cool about the record was the blue label and the design of the M.
I would see other records in the house that I found myself enjoying when they were played: El Chicano‘s Viva Tirado, John Rowles‘ “Cheryl Moana Marie” (another song my dad used to sing to me when he sat me on the fishtank), Santana‘s Abraxas, War‘s All Day Music and The World Is A Ghetto, and Sunday Manoa‘s Guava Jam. El Chicago, Santana, and War I loved because of the percussion, maybe that’s why I ended up doing damage to bongos and drum sets, and those albums I associate with being “California”. Perhaps as my parents played records and they saw me being perhaps attentive to the sounds and the pictures on the covers, they decided to give me something they felt I would enjoy: my own record player.
Even with the little things I remember from this point in my life, I don’t remember what records I had for my Close’N’Play, but what I liked about this record player was that it was mine. I was the one in control of playing the music, and all I had to do was open it up, place the record inside, close it and it would play. The needle was mounted on the inside cover, and it would play a record like any normal kiddle record player. The difference was that it did not have a tone arm. When I wanted to hear the music again, all I had to do was close the player, and it would start up exactly where I ended it. Years later when I would get into video games, the Nintendo company had a motto which said “Now You’re Playing With Power”, because it suggested that the type of gaming you could do at a game room could now be experienced at home, with quality equal to that of the arcade machines. Back then, the NES 8-bit graphics was a huge step up from the crap the Atari 2600 offered, but it did indeed mean “power”. For me, my first sense of power was with my Close’N’Play, and I do remember carrying it around as a prized possession when my parents would go places. It seemed even back then, I loved the music but wanted to do something with it. In time I would.
When my grandfather on my dad’s side was ill, the decision was made for my parents to move back to Honolulu to be closer to him. It would become my first trip to the islands and where I would get in contact with a much bigger family than I had known. It would be where I would get in touch with my cultural heritage, learn about the world around me, and become the person I am today. I don’t remember leaving Los Angeles, but I remember arrive at Honolulu International Airport. I walked out of the plane and as I got my first breath of Hawaiian air, I looked down and thought we were still in the air, or at least the plane was very high and I wanted someone to hold my hand because I didn’t want to fall.
Unfortunately, I do not remember having my Close’N’Play in Honolulu, it was “my California phonograph”. I would eventually have new devices to hear and play music, but it seems when I became a resident of Hawai’i, I left a part of me behind. In truth, it was probably too big to pack and compared to essentials such as, oh, clothes, they could afford to leave a kiddie record player behind.
The music of War has been a part of my life since I was a kid. My dad played their albums all the time, so I was fully aware of the power of All Day Music, The World Is A Ghetto, and my favorite War album, Deliver The Word. I was born in Los Angeles, so perhaps some of the city’s influences made an impact on my parents, or at least my dad.
When Why Can’t We Be Friends was released, it was simply another new War album in the house. I also remember it as the first War album I grew up in Hawai’i, so there are quite a few associations with it. I listened to War with my parents in the room, and I got into the album cuts deep. I loved “Heartbreak”, “Don’t Let No One Get You Down”, “Smile Happy”, “In Mazatlan”, and completely got into the 7-minute “Leroy’s Latin Lament”. I enjoyed the title track, and I think as a whole I loved these guys because when I saw the photos of the band, it always looked like they were having fun, like a family. I loved my family, so why I couldn’t I be a part of that family?
As for “Low Rider”, my dad loved the song because he loved cars: driving, fixing, reading about them, going to junkyards to find parts. But “Low Rider” was always on the radio too, and why rely on the radio when I could go to my stereo and play “Leroy’s Latin Lament”? Yet when I’d go to stores with my parents and I’d end up looking at the record section, I’d always find a very cool picture sleeve for “Low Rider”: black border, a guy in his car looking fly, and that was it. Yet because my family had the album, there was no need to get the 45. This wasn’t a rule, as we did have our share of “little records” but it never happened.
Over the years, “Low Rider” would have different associations with each passing generation. It would become a part of Cheech & Chong folklore when it was used in one of my all time favorite movies, Up In Smoke. In a way, the opening show where Cheech Marin walks to his car could be considered a tribute to the picture sleeve, right up there with the graffiti font for the comedy duo:
Two decades later, it would become the theme song for actor/comedian George Lopez for the ABC sitcom named after him.
For me, it was just another cool song by one of my favorite bands on a great album. It’s the one song most pop audiences associate with War, and I’m sure a lot of people who know “Low Rider” couldn’t tell you about “Slippin’ Into Darkness”, “City Country City”, or “Beetles In The Bog”. I’m sure a lot of people who may have bought the single didn’t know there was a picture sleeve, since most labels would stop printing them after their initial run, even though it would continue its path up the charts. War represented their L.A. roots with a cool image of a man in his low rider, with some Mexican graffiti in the background, ready for a slow cruise up and down the street.
This entry proves that album cover homage can work and work well. In 1975, War released the Why Can’t We Be Friends album, resulting with two hit singles, “Low Rider” and the title track. 35 years later, Japanese MC Michita honors the album cover by giving it a Japanese perspective, and calling it A Full Life.