No, of course it’s not true. It wasn’t really Tony Blair. It’s a well-known fact that the British Prime Minister was in a band briefly in university. Ugly Rumours never went very far. But a British pressure group decided to record a version of “War” with a Blair lookalike and try and get in the charts. They did, briefly…
The hookline of “War” is, of course, “War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing”. The anti-war coalition behind the project are trying to shame Blair for having gone to war in Iraq against the will of the majority. Ugly Rumours reached number 6 in the UK charts and then spiralled downwards. To be honest, it’s a cheeky idea but this is not exactly the definitive version of “War”, and the lookalike is not really all that much of a lookalike.
The song “War” was written by the incredible Norman Whitfield (The Temptations and “Car Wash”) and Barrett Strong and was a hit first for Edwin Starr. Strong and Whitfield also wrote “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” sung by both Gladys Knight & the Pips and Marvin Gaye, “Smiling Faces Sometimes” by The Undisputed Truth, and the long line of “psychedelic soul” records by The Temptations, including “Cloud Nine”, “I Can’t Get Next to You”, “Psychedelic Shack”, “Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World is Today)”, and the all-time classic “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone”. I haven’t got the full list, but “War” has also been a hit for Bruce Springsteen and Frankie Goes to Hollywood amongst many others.
There have been a number of political lampoons in the charts. “God Save the Queen” from the Sex Pistols springs to mind. “Two Tribes” from Frankie Goes to Hollywood featuring a video in which Ronald Reagan and Gorbachev wrestle in a ring. “Qui” featured the voice of the former Belgian Prime Minister Paul Van Den Boeynants. If I’m missing any, leave a comment here – it could be a fun thread.