War of the Gods (album)
|War of the Gods|
|Studio album by Billy Paul|
|Released||November 18–24, 1973|
|Recorded||1973 at Sigma Sound Studios, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania|
|Genre||Soul, Philadelphia soul|
|Producer||Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff|
|Billy Paul chronology|
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
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."
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."
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."
- "The Whole Town's Talking" - 4:46
- "I Was Married" - (Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff, Cary Gilbert, Joannie Arc) - 7:19
- "Thanks for Saving My Life" - 2:58
- "Peace Holy Peace" - 6:53
CD Bonus tracks (2012 reissue)
- "War of the Gods (Part I)" (Single Version) - 5:37
- "The Whole Town's Talking" (Single Version) - 2:45
- "I Was Married" (Single Version) (Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff, Cary Gilbert, Joannie Arc) - 4:00
- Billy Paul - Lead and Backing Vocals
- Bobby Eli, Bunny Sigler, David Bay, Norman Harris, Roland Chambers - Guitar
- Eddie Green, Leon Huff - Piano
- Vincent Montana, Jr. - Vibraphone
- Anthony Jackson, Ron Baker - Bass
- Earl Young, Norman Farrington - Drums
- Don Renaldo - Horns, Strings
- Larry Washington - Congas
- Lenny Pakula - Organ
- Carla Benson, Evette Benton, Barbara Ingram - Background Vocals
- The Dandridge Choral Ensemble - Vocals on "Peace Holy Peace"
|Billboard Pop Albums||110|
|Billboard Top Soul Albums||12|
|U.S. Billboard Hot 100||US
|1974||"Thanks For Saving My Life"||37||9|
- Wynn, Ron. Billy Paul: War Of The Gods Review at AllMusic. Retrieved 13 October 2011.
- McMillian, Stephen (16 March 2015). "Soul Train History Book: Billy Paul". soultrain.com. Retrieved 13 June 2015.
- Looch, Cassam (2012). "Interview: Billy Paul". movievortex.com. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
- Marchese, Joe (28 November 2012). "Reviews: Bunny Sigler and Billy Paul’s Philadelphia International Classics from BBR". theseconddisc.com. Retrieved 13 June 2015.
- "Billy Paul US albums chart history". allmusic.com. Retrieved 2011-10-13.
- "Billy Paul US singles chart history". allmusic.com. Retrieved 2011-10-13.