"Slipping Into Darkness." "Low Rider." "Cisco Kid." "The World Is a Ghetto." These are song titles that anyone with a taste for old-school funk and R&B immediately identifies with the classic groove band War.
But if you happen to show up these days for a performance by the band billed as War, you'll only see one original member -- sax player Lonnie Jordan. The other members of today's War are musicians hired to imitate the sound of one of the most popular bands of the 1970s, a group that racked up four Top 10 albums from 1972-76.
If you really want to get back to the powerful blend of funk, jazzy riffs and Latino rhythms that still grabs the ears of several generations of music fans, stay away from the ersatz War. Instead, catch a band known as S.O.B.
The initials stand for Same Ol' Band, and the group comprises four original members of War -- drummer Harold Brown, bassist B.B. Dickerson, guitarist Howard Scott and harmonica ace Lee Oskar. Now based in New Orleans, S.O.B. has been barred from performing under the name War since losing a 1999 court decision. It's a typical record-business horror story, with a band manager accused of paying the band members lower royalty rates, withholding publishing money and doing everything he would to capitalize on the War name. But despite their recent defeat in court, the members of S.O.B. continue to tour and perform around the country, kicking out that unmistakable original War vibe, the one that transcends mere monikers.