The World Is a Ghetto

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The World Is a Ghetto
War The World Is a Ghetto.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedNovember 1972
StudioCrystal Industries in Los Angeles
GenreBlack rock, soul, jazz, funk, Afro roots
LabelUnited Artists Records
ProducerJerry Goldstein with Lonnie Jordan and Howard E. Scott
War chronology
All Day Music
The World Is a Ghetto
Deliver the Word

The World Is a Ghetto is the fifth album by the band War, released in late 1972 on United Artists Records. The album attained the number one spot on Billboard, and was Billboard magazine's Album of the Year as the best-selling album of 1973.[1] In addition to being Billboard's #1 album of 1973, the album is ranked number 444 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[2] The title track became a gold record.[citation needed]


The cover illustration, a lighthearted drawing showing a Rolls Royce with a flat tire in a ghetto, was drawn by Howard Miller, with Lee Oskar credited with album concept.[3]

Alternate formats[edit]

The album was also made available in a 4-channel surround sound (quadraphonic) mix in the 8-track tape format (United Artists UA-DA178-H).[4]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[5]
Christgau's Record GuideB[6]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[8]

In a contemporary review for Rolling Stone, Gordon Fletcher said The World Is a Ghetto found War progressing further in the arena of soul and jazz music, and "closer to total mastery of their music as they attempt to use it to communicate the essence of ghetto life".[9] Robert Christgau was less enthusiastic in Creem, believing he "should love this big Afro-roots band" in theory, but was critical of the fairly slow quality of the music and the lyrics, calling it "blackstrap-rock".[7] He singled out the "jazz pretensions" of "Four Cornered Room" and "City, Country, City", finding the latter's rhythmic foundation solid but the song too long and mawkish.[6]

In a retrospective review, Bruce Eder from AllMusic said the album's music encompassed "not only soul and funk but elements of blues and psychedelia" and a "classy, forward-looking production" comparable to Curtis Mayfield's 1970 album Curtis and Marvin Gaye's What's Going On (1971).[5] The Crisis journalist Bruce Britt identified The World Is a Ghetto as one of the few Black rock recordings that became a classic within the pan-African community during FM rock radio's segregation of African-American rock acts in the 1970s,[10] a viewpoint echoed by music historian Jefferson Morley.[11]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks composed by War (Papa Dee Allen, Harold Brown, B. B. Dickerson, Lonnie Jordan, Charles Miller, Lee Oskar, Howard E. Scott).

Side one[edit]

  1. "The Cisco Kid" – 4:35
  2. "Where Was You At" – 3:25
  3. "City, Country, City" – 13:18

Side two[edit]

  1. "Four Cornered Room" – 8:30
  2. "The World Is a Ghetto" – 10:10
  3. "Beetles in the Bog" – 3:51

CD bonus tracks[edit]

In 2012 the album was re-released on CD in a 40th anniversary expanded edition with 4 previously unreleased bonus tracks.[12]

  1. "Freight Train Jam" - 5:41
  2. "58 Blues" - 5:26
  3. "War Is Coming - Blues version" - 6:15
  4. "The World Is a Ghetto - Rehearsal take" - 8:06



Year Album Chart positions[13]
1972 The World Is a Ghetto 1 1


Singles from the album include "The World Is a Ghetto" backed with "Four Cornered Room", and "The Cisco Kid" backed with "Beetles in the Bog".

Year Single Chart positions[14]
1973 "The Cisco Kid" 2 5
"The World Is a Ghetto" 7 3

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Year End Charts - Year-end Albums - The Billboard 200". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Archived from the original on February 14, 2008. Retrieved May 13, 2011.
  2. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time Rolling Stone's definitive list of the 500 greatest albums of all time". Rolling Stone. 2012. Retrieved September 2, 2019.
  3. ^ "War – The World Is A Ghetto - Original release". Retrieved 2015-06-30.
  4. ^ Anderson, Mark. "Quadraphonic Popular Recordings (W)". Archived from the original on 2008-04-10.
  5. ^ a b Allmusic review
  6. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (1981). "War: The World Is a Ghetto". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the '70s. Da Capo Press. ISBN 0306804093. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
  7. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (April 1973). "The Christgau Consumer Guide". Creem. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
  8. ^ Walters, Barry (August 22, 2002). "War: The World Is a Ghetto". Rolling Stone. No. 903. Archived from the original on February 20, 2008. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
  9. ^ Fletcher, Gordon (March 1, 1973). "War: The World Is a Ghetto". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on June 19, 2008. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
  10. ^ Britt, Bruce. "Black Rock Revival". The Crisis. No. Autumn 2008. p. 19.
  11. ^ Morley, Jefferson (1992). "Introduction". In Stanley, Lawrence A. (ed.). Rap: The Lyrics. Penguin Books. p. xvii. ISBN 0140147888.
  12. ^ "War – The World Is A Ghetto - 40th Anniversary Edition". Retrieved 2015-06-30.
  13. ^ "War US albums chart history". Retrieved 2011-07-13.
  14. ^ "War US singles chart history". Retrieved 2011-07-13.

External links[edit]