Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Cult Of Personality: Living Colour

Living Colour is a band that, despite many notions were a pivotal force in rock music. No one can argue that when they heard or saw the video for "Cult Of Personality," their transformation of what they knew as rock changed.

I know that I was rather young when the video for "Cult Of Personality" came on. I was around 8 years old at the time, and a self proclaimed MTV Junkie. When I saw that video, it totally shattered my perceptions of what Rock should be like. Back when I was young during that time, I listened to my fair share of rock bands. Such tapes as Van Halen's "OU812," The Bangles "Everything," and Paula Abdul's "Forever Your Girl" were my daily rotation while riding my bike.

But when the album "Vivid" and the video for "Cult Of Personality" hit it had a profound effect on the way I listened to music. I mean, here were four people in the form of Muzz Skillings (the original Bassist), Corey Glover, Vernon Reid and Will Calhoun, who could play a diverse array of music, from free jazz to periods of electronica every now and then, and still managed to play great rock music. This could be seen in their song "Glamour Boys," and to an extent the song "Message to a Landlord." "Vivid" is still one of those albums I can't get enough of, and still has a profound effect on me to this day, when I hear folks like Cody Chestnutt, and their predecessors, Bad Brains. Wikipedia says that this band was part of the Funk Metal movement, along with Red Hot Chili Peppers, Fishbone, Faith No More, Primus, and Jane's Addiction.

If "Vivid" was just a display of their chops in the Rock genre, "Time's Up" was a curveball, displaying the band's many different styles that were in their pocket. Every genre imaginable from Free Jazz to some hints of electronica were present on this album, making for a diverse and entertaining musical journey. Even Maceo Parker, Doug E. Fresh, and Queen Latifah (!) show up on the album and manage to make it that much more refreshing.

They won a grammy for Best Hard Rock Album for this one, and also managed to perform at Lollapalooza the same year that this album came out as well. Throughout the years, they managed to retain a rather large following and released an EP prior to going to Lollapalooza called "Biscuits," which contains my favorite rendition of "Talkin' Loud And Sayin' Nothin." However Muzz Skillings would leave the group shortly thereafter and then Living Colour would have a new bassist amongst their midst in the form of Doug Wimbush.

With Doug Wimbush firmly in place, the group was set to release it's 3rd effort, merely titled "Stain." There was a darker, edgier sound lurking and surprisingly, that didn't scare fans away one bit. Nevertheless, this record had some awesome gems on it, such as "Never Satisfied," and "WTFF (What The Fuck Factor)."

Sadly this was the last album the group recorded in 1993, and then they broke up largely due to creative differences. Since then, they reunited and are playing shows constantly, having secured a deal with Sanctuary Music and releasing a new album of material called "Collideoscope" in 2003 which was also more rooted in the darker, edgier sound they had cultivated on the album "Stain." In addition, Muzz Skillings rejoined the group for a performance, while the remaining members of the group including the new bassist, Doug Wimbush still remain intact. They are currently at work on a new album, and in addition to that, Corey Glover, the lead vocalist, is in Jesus Christ Superstar along with Ted Neely, and Vernon Reid heads up a coalition called the Black Rock Coalition, an organization he founded at the start of Living Colour's career in 1986.

Bottom Line: Check out the albums, you're missing some much needed great rock in your life.

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