Deliver the Word

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Focusing in part on their softer side, War unleashed Deliver the Word in fall 1973. A smooth blend of the band's more progressive jazz-rock fusion, the LP shot to the top of the R&B charts, their second of four number one records in a row. It was a perfect tonic to the mediocre MOR music rampaging its way through the early part of the decade. The opening "H2 Overture" is a restrained jazz jam that gives way to "In Your Eyes," which keeps the progressive momentum going but adds unexpected vocal twists that vary from interesting spoken pleasures to full vocal harmonies -- it's sex on a groove. Both "Southern Part of Texas" and a long-awaited studio recording of "Baby Brother -- now titled "Me and Baby Brother" -- swing the band back to their alter ego cutting-edge funk stomp. "Gypsy Man," meanwhile, is a near-12-minute mantric, tantric opus whose blues riffs are pinned down only by the song's low, unyielding rhythm. It's a memorable slab of pure prog passed through Lee Oskar's stroboscopic brain. An outstanding album split between War's two definitive styles, Deliver the Word ultimately delivers a vibe, a groove, and an intent that are hard to resist. A magical ride with plenty of surprises to keep the listener on his or her toes, this set is a perfect example of the band at their genre-fusing best.

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