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War Crime Blues

Chris WhitleyAudio CD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 3, 2004)
  • Original Release Date: February 3, 2004
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Messenger Records
  • ASIN: B00024I2KY
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,546 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Made From Dirt
2. Her Furious Angels
3. Ghost Dance
4. War Crime Blues
5. Invisible Day
6. I Can't Stand It
7. White Rider
8. Dead Cowboy Song
9. The Call Up
10. God Left Town
11. Nature Boy

Editorial Reviews


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chris at his best April 17, 2005
Format:Audio CD
Chris Whitley's War Crime Blues shows the talented songwriter in his best setting, his voice and his acoustic guitar. The songs here don't show Whitley reenacting the blues but rather reinventing them. The opening "Made From Dirt" is both furious and haunting as Whitley's voice wails over the chaotic setting comprised solely by his guitar. Other songs such as "God Left Town" and "Dead Cowboy Song" continue in this vein where the fury just takes the listener in and doesn't let go. "Ghost Dance" finds Whitley sounding like our generation's John Lee Hooker, just riding one chord and letting the emotion carry the song. The quieter but just as passionate tracks "Her Furious Angels", "Invisible Day", and "White Rider", which shows Whitley's voice sounding like an old 78 record, are also great tracks. There are also 3 cover songs here, all done completely different. The version of "I Can't Stand It" is more fiery than Lou Reed's version while Chris' version of The Clash's "The Call Up" is more laid back, emphasizing the importance of the lyrics. Finally, the a capella read on the jazz classic "Nature Boy" is a great albeit unusual way to end the album. Like many of his last few albums, it's quite short at 33 minutes long, but like those releases it's designed to be listened to one sitting, in essence letting the songs take you to another place. Quite simply, this is Chris is at his best. Better than Din of Ecstasy or Living With the Law? Yes.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars War Crime Blues January 5, 2005
Format:Audio CD
Chris Whitley follows up last years low-key, but solid HOTEL VAST HORIZON, with what may be his best release since his staggering debut over twelve years ago.

Whitley has covered alot of ground sucessfully over the years, but I feel that his strongest work is when mines solo acoustic blues. Rather than using the blues as an excercise in nostolgia, he uses it as a springboard for explorig his personal demons in a modern context. He also manages to put his personal stamp on every composition including covers, such as the Velvet Underground's I CAN'T STAND IT and the Clash's THE CALL UP, which are included here.

WAR CRIME BLUES is an excellent album showcasing Whitley's talents as a guitarist, vocalist, composer and interpreter. There is not a weak track included. Those new to his work may be better advised to try his debut, LIVING WITH THE LAW or his excellent compilation LONG WAY AROUND first. Those that like what they hear there, or are already familiar with his work are then well advised to invest in this album.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where do we go from here.... February 3, 2006
By T. Lane
Format:Audio CD
This is an emotionally raw album of beautiful songs recorded in a makeshift/casual environment. As can be expected from Chris Whitley, the songs do not suffer for a lack of production. In fact, the organic style of the recording brings the audience closer to him, the gravity of the songs permeating deeper than if they had been studio-produced. The unique beauty of his music reamins subtle here, but somehow more intimate and direct.

The energetic highlights of the album draw from the artist's keen aptitude in musicianship, unfolding here more agressively than usual. Chris has somehow captured a vital creative essence in many of these uptempo songs. "Made From Dirt," "Dead Cowboy Song," and "God Left Town" are all excellent songs. All three are clearly a release, or rather, a forfeiture of his emotional outrages. So many artists resort to hitting their instruments more loudly or being too lyrically blunt. Other artists might be too subtle, nebulous or cryptic. Chris carefully lands on the rare poetic island somewhere between the two. "I Can't Stand It" is perhaps the most outright of the loud songs, though he did not write it, but he sure does reinvision it. It fits the album perfectly.

Quiter songs such as "Her Furious Angels," "War Crime Blues," "Invisible Day," "White Rider," and "The Call Up" shape the album into a dance between a despairing catharsis and hope with a sense of future wonderment. The wonderful song "Her Furious Angels" appears on a proceeding album in studio-produced form, however this original appearance is the stronger of the two. One of the album's most touching songs, "Invisible Day" was recorded live in a park. You can faintly hear birds in the background. That particular setting somehow makes the song utterly magical.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars compelling July 29, 2004
Format:Audio CD
after recording the quiet, ballad-based record Hotel Vast Horizon in 2003, Chris wanted to do something more urgent, more raw, and War Crime Blues is exactly that. From the first note, there is an aggressive sense of desperation that permeates the record, some kind of pissed-off melancholia. while not an overtly political record, "made from dirt", "war crime blues", and a cover of the clash's "london calling" among others comment on the shaky state of affairs in the world today. although this is a solo acoustic record like Dirt Floor, the production is very in your face and the songs are loud and noisy, so be warned. highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesomely intense -- just Whitley and his guitar March 28, 2012
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Chris Whitley burned brightly to the end. This awesomely intense album was recorded in Dresden where he had relocated in the new millennium. He died in 2005 at the age of 45. While short (33 minutes), it packs in more amazing music than many artists manage in a full disc. It's so great, in fact, that I nearly always hit replay and listen to it at least twice, so that ends up being 66 minutes, or 99 if I play it again...

Whitley plays a Gibson-National-Duesenberg guitar, and nothing else, except his stomping foot for rhythm. There are eight originals here, and three covers -- Lou Reed's "I Can't Stand It," the Clash's "The Call-Up," and the 1947 jazz standard "Nature Boy," sung a capella, originally a hit for Nat King Cole in 1948. There are no potential hit singles here comparable to "Big Sky Country," and it's clear that Whitley and the major labels are not on the same wavelength. He is on a higher plane!

"Made From Dirt" gets things off to a high-energy start. The lyric is an update on the blues song "Mother Earth" (where we all return). "War Crime Blues" seems to be about both relationships as well as actual wars, and as it was recorded in 2003 following the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the political point seems clear. Of course this is reinforced by the use of the Clash song, which was more relevant in Germany than in the U.S., since military or alternative service is required, not voluntary. "Invisible Day" has perhaps the strongest melody of Whitley's own songs, and a powerful mood. It was recorded under Albert Bridge in Dresden by Whitley's girlfriend Susann Berger.

Whitley is shooting off sparks throughout. This is fantastic music for the Whitley devotee or someone who has never heard his music.
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