WAR: GREATEST HITS LIVE
Review by Michael Jacobson
Director: Greg Pineda
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Stereo
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78:1
Studio: Avenue Records
Features: Photo Gallery, Backstage Footage
Length: 120 Minutes
Release Date: October 14, 2008
“Why can’t we be friends?”
War was an intriguingly named group…they were all about harmony of style and humanity. Their sound mixed rock, soul, reggae and Hispanic influences into a vibe that was trippy, funky, and fun to dance to. Their multi-ethnic persona was like their message: one of peace, love and freedom.
Founding member Lonnie Jordan doesn’t seem past his prime at all…in fact, I’m not sure he’s aware what decade he’s in. His charming ramblings about peace, drugs and happiness make him all the more endearing, and his voice has lost none of it’s smoothness and style over the years.
Listen to him on “The World is a Ghetto”, and you’ll be back in the late 60s and early 70s for the duration. He fronts War with a sweet passion, and the band sounds as good or better than ever.
War: Greatest Hits Live showcases the legendary group in their 2007 Anaheim concert, and as the title suggests, all the hits are here. I didn’t know all of the tunes, but the band’s energy and flow was enough to have even a hapless old white dude like me get his groove on and keep it for two hours.
Songs like “Spill the Wine”, “Why Can’t We Be Friends” and “Lowrider” have instantly recognizable hooks, and the intimate crowd cheers their pleasure throughout. The band is tight, sharp, and seem to be having the times of their lives on stage, doing what they’ve done so well for so many decades.
The finale, in which the members are introduced, goes on a little long, as each one takes a brief spotlight. But it’s peppered with some surprising tune choices, including “Sunshine of Your Love” by Cream, “Iron Man” by Black Sabbath, and “Gypsy Queen” from The Who.
The Summer of Love is long gone, but all it takes is a few great songs to relive it all. And War is still providing the soundtrack for our collective memorable youth.
The high definition video is a plus, as the stage, sets and band members are quite colorful. I would have preferred 1080p instead of 1080i, but that’s only a complaint when there are a few rapid camera moves. For the most part, the image is strikingly real and crisply detailed.
It defaults to stereo, so you have to do a little work to bring out the 5.1 sound, but it’s worth it. The low bass grooves and crowd responses open up the listening experience and makes it feel more like a live event in your living room.
There is some backstage footage of the band, and a photo slide show. Sadly, this disc doesn't make use of Blu-ray's pop-up menu technology, meaning you can't surf through the songlist without stopping the program!
War is all about peace and love, and hearing them perform their greatest hits live in the comfort of your home is a real treat!