War of the Gods (album)

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War of the Gods
Warofthegodsalbum.jpg
Studio album by Billy Paul
Released November 18-24, 1973
Recorded 1973 at Sigma Sound Studios, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Genre Soul
Philadelphia Soul
Length 38:28
Label Philadelphia International Records
Producer Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff
Billy Paul chronology
360 Degrees of Billy Paul
(1972)
War of the Gods
(1973)
Live in Europe
(1974)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars [1]

War of the Gods is an album by soul singer Billy Paul. The album was produced by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff and arranged by Bobby Martin and Lenny Pakula. Released in 1973, the album reached #12 on the Billboard soul chart and #110 on the pop chart. The single "Thanks for Saving My Life" was a top 40 hit reaching #37 on the pop chart and was a top-ten soul record reaching #9. In 2012, Big Break Records remastered and reissued the album on CD with bonus tracks and new liner notes.

Release and Critical Reception[edit]

The outer gatefold image of War of the Gods depicts the full artwork, normally unseen if only the front cover is visible.
The inner gatefold image of War of the Gods depicts Billy Paul on a rocky landscape dressed in colorful garb. Like the front/outer gatefold cover, this image suggests that the music will have a transporting, other-worldly quality.
The white-label, promo only single of "War of the Gods (Part II)" was issued to radio only and has never been made commercially available.

A departure from his previous albums, War of the Gods contains only six songs, nearly all of which are extended psychedelic soul song suites. The thought-provoking album cover suggests that the listener is in store for a spiritual journey of sophisticated, challenging music. Fusing jazz, soul, funk, Latin, rock, and pop, the album is unlike anything Paul released before or since. In the new liner notes for the 2012 reissue, Paul calls it "the best album I’ve ever done in my life."

Stephen McMillian recounted Paul's appearance on Soul Train to promote the album:

Billy returned to Soul Train on its January 20, 1974 taping to perform 'Thanks For Saving My Life' and an uptempo danceable tune entitled 'The Whole Town’s Talking' from War of the Gods. 'Super smooth Billy,' as Don [Cornelius] referred to him in his introduction of the singer, looked dapper in grey suit and grey hat with the brim of the hat slightly tilted down. During Billy’s interview with Don, he mentioned that he had returned from a European tour with The O’Jays and The Intruders, stating that the response was great and very receptive. 'The most amazing thing is to see people who can’t understand your language but they enjoy your music and the sound,' Billy told Don."[2]

In addition to the hit single "Thanks for Saving My Life," the album's title track was released as a white label, promo-only single in two different, shorter forms. "War of the Gods (Part I)" was the A-side at 5:37 while "War of the Gods (Part II) was the B-side at 4:42 (PIR single AE7-1080, 1973). The A-side is included as a bonus track on the BBR 2012 reissue. Also, "The Whole Town's Talking" was issued as a single in the UK (PIR single S 2225, 1974) and that shortened version of the album track also appears on the 2012 reissue as does the 4:00 single version of "I Was Married" (PIR single 3538, 1973).

In 2012 Paul explained why "War of the Gods" is his favorite among the songs he has recorded: "It's very spiritual, and it tells people about war. Me and Marvin Gaye were tight and he did "What's Going On." I said to him I have to do my version and I went for it. Things that had happened in my life had affected me, and I wanted to tell the world how important it was, how important people were and most importantly how important God was. If anything the song is even more important and relevant today. A lot of my songs have had that effect."[3]

Joe Marchese of The Second Disc provided a detailed review of the BBR reissue, concluding: "Though War of the Gods isn’t one of the singer or label’s most accessible albums, it’s doubtless one of the most provocative and passionate."[4]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks composed by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff; except where indicated

Side A

  1. "I See The Light" - (Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff, Bunny Sigler) 6:13
  2. "War of the Gods" - 10:07

Side B

  1. "The Whole Town's Talking" - 4:46
  2. "I Was Married" - (Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff, Cary Gilbert, Joannie Arc) - 7:19
  3. "Thanks For Saving My Life" - 2:58
  4. "Peace Holy Peace" - 6:53

CD Bonus tracks (2012 reissue)

  1. "War of the Gods (Part I)" (Single Version) - 5:37
  2. "The Whole Town's Talking" (Single Version) - 2:45
  3. "I Was Married" (Single Version) (Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff, Cary Gilbert, Joannie Arc) - 4:00

Personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

Chart (1974) Peak
position
Billboard Pop Albums[5] 110
Billboard Top Soul Albums[5] 12

Singles[edit]

Year Single Chart positions[6]
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 US
Soul
1974 "Thanks For Saving My Life" 37 9

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Wynn, Ron. Billy Paul: War Of The Gods Review at AllMusic. Retrieved 13 October 2011.
  2. ^ McMillian, Stephen (16 March 2015). "Soul Train History Book: Billy Paul". soultrain.com. Retrieved 13 June 2015. 
  3. ^ Looch, Cassam (2012). "Interview: Billy Paul". movievortex.com. Retrieved 17 June 2015. 
  4. ^ Marchese, Joe (28 November 2012). "Reviews: Bunny Sigler and Billy Paul’s Philadelphia International Classics from BBR". theseconddisc.com. Retrieved 13 June 2015. 
  5. ^ a b "Billy Paul US albums chart history". allmusic.com. Retrieved 2011-10-13. 
  6. ^ "Billy Paul US singles chart history". allmusic.com. Retrieved 2011-10-13.