Wednesday, December 10, 2003

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note - this site is was made for the intent purpose of promoting Living Colour. We've tried to find all kinds of reviews, from good, to mediocre, to bad, and the following review is the latter. Remember, everyone is entitled to his/her opinion. If you agree or disagree with the writer, his email is at the end of this article.

NBC 10 review - Living Colour Collideoscope
Living Colour "Collideoscope"

Back in the pre-Nirvana, hair-metal-infested dark ages of the late '80s and early '90s, New York's Living Colour enjoyed a brief reign as hard rock's great, er, black hope.

Hailed by critics and fellow musicians alike and showered with Grammy awards, the band created rock that bravely drew from an array of musical forms fused with Jimmy Page-style guitar crunch and politically and socially biting lyrics that at their best, could make you stop headbanging for a moment and ponder the world at large.

At the group's commercial zenith, however, it was the eternally amiable Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead who proved to be the most astute critic and unknowing seer of the band's future.

Remarking on the band in a 1991 interview in Rolling Stone, Garcia said, "Living Colour is a great band. Their whole approach is interesting, but they're short on melodies ... That's a tough space where they are right now; I think the most talented guy in the band is going to look to break out if the band doesn't go somewhere."

Four short years later, Garcia's prediction came true when Living Colour founder/guitarist Vernon Reid quietly dissolved the group. As one record label remarked at the time, the group had become "four guys with five opinions."

After the 1995 breakup, the group members went their separate ways. Reid chased his ambition, busying himself with production duties and the release of a grossly underrated solo album. His former compatriots faired poorly, exploring a series of tuneless and increasingly irrelevant solo projects. By the dawn of the new century, however, even Reid was beginning to see diminishing returns (creatively as well as financially) and the band reunited for some gigs in late 2000.

Two years later, the band has released "Collideoscope," its first album of new material since 1993's "Stain," a post-grunge homage to heavy rock and personal dysfunction.

Despite the passage of time, "Collideoscope" in many ways is also an album of personal dysfunction. But instead of it being the record's common theme, "Collideoscope" is defined by its dysfunction, or rather the band's. It seems the group's internal power struggles and eclectic approach has got the better of them and caused the group to crank out the worst album of their careers.

As is evident in many of the interviews the band members have done to promote "Collidescope," their music is the product of a contest of wills. But instead of benefiting from multiple opinions, these songs seem to languish in a musical middle ground between the conflicting ideas. This music is banal and the lyrics lack any brilliant insights. There's no sense of adventure to these songs -- that the band is pushing the musical envelope -- which was what made Living Colour an exciting listen back in their glory days.

Instead, this album succeeds in bringing out the band's worst aspects: their didacticism, their shotty lyric-writing, and the aforementioned lack of melodicisim.

Most of these songs never rise above mediocrity. Tracks like "A ? Of When," "Song Without Sin," "In Your Name" or "Great Expectations" are based around rather ordinary guitar riffs. And that's not taking into account the lyrics that while taking a decided anti-Bush, anti-Big Business stance, come across as a collection of monotonous slogans. Equally disconcerting is the inclusion of two dismal covers, AC/DC's "Back In Black" and the Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows." While "Back In Black" is so loyally done that it begs whether a redo was really necessary, "Tomorrow Never Knows" is just an opportunity for the group to pile on the studio's digital effects.

Not surprisingly, "Collidescope" is at its best when the band is expanding its hard rock oeuvre. There's the dub-reggae swing of "Nightmare City," (featuring some sweet Wailers-like angelic background harmonies) and "Holy Roller," a blues-rock romp that includes organ licks from former E Street Band keyboardist David Sancious. Reid, whose playing up until then is surprisingly uninspired, delivers a lovely understated solo on the latter.

So many of the songs on "Collidescope" beg its listeners to wake up, to recognize the world's evils and fix them. What's needed now is for Living Colour to wake, up, take a long, hard look in the mirror and fix themselves.

Comments : David Hyland

CD REVIEW: Living Colour sound faded on latest release
by Jenny Oakson
(U-WIRE) SAN DIEGO -- The "new" Living Colour album is just what it sounds like: A contradiction.
When the Living Colour of yore first appeared on the scene and cranked out "Vivid," it was clear that this band had something to say. They were four young black men prying their way into a long-haired white man's genre, and they used the medium as a makeshift soapbox to expound upon the inequities of society. Their radio-friendly single "Cult of Personality" became an anthem for the disenfranchised; from slums to suburbs, the record called out to overcome the barriers and look beyond the parochial.

As they progressed with albums like "Stain" and "Time's Up," they added levity to their social commentary. Balmy melodies transitioned into cutting tracks with fluent movement. In 1993, after the release of "Stain" and the subsequent breakup of the band, heavy metal mourned.

And now, 10 years later, Living Color has recoagulated to offer "Collideoscope." What they didn't realize, it seems, is that 10 years is quite a long time. While Corey Glover's voice still resounds with passionate vibrancy and Vernon Reid's guitar cuts and curves with sharp, meticulous racing, Doug Wimbish's bass seems muted and Will Calhoun's drumming doesn't come close to the unimaginable brilliance demonstrated in past songs like "Solace of You." Much like an 80-year-old woman in low-rise jeans, while the effort to be current is admirable, the design doesn't best present the content.

"Collideoscope" starts off with that patented Living Colour sound, but it sounds outdated. And why not? Ask yourself what you listened to 10 years ago -- is it still in your CD player? Futile attempts at contemporary music devices are transparent: The jarring techno used in "In Your Name" sounds like an overactive child let loose in Beck's recording studio. While other bands may need to add post-production effects to a mediocre lead singer, Living Colour certainly aren't one of them. The grainy garage production on tracks like "Choices Mash Up" distorts Glover's phenomenal voice in an attempt to emulate the likes of the Strokes.

The lyrics seem base and blunt in dealing with emotional subject matter. Much of the album touches on Sept. 11, the Patriot Act, overall fear and panic. The sincerity may very well be there, but the theme comes off as trite as a "very special" episode of "The Real World: Chicago." Songs like "? Of When" and "In Your Name" rely on lyrics like "Who will be next / Will it be me" and "We got bombs and planes." Pretty risky in an era where musicians are crucified for commercializing tragedy.

This album certainly does have its diamonds in the rough -- rough and inconsistent as it may be. "Flying" showcases Reid in a guitar solo that ranks among his best and their cover of AC/DC's "Back in Black" is a decent tribute, though it seems out of place. Could this really be a tongue-in-cheek play on words in the middle of a left-wing rant about terrorism? This band has always had something to say, it's just that in the past, no one else had ever said it before.

Shepherd-Express : Living Colour Collideoscope review
Living Colour
Collideoscope (Sanctuary)

On their first album in 10 years, Living Colour prove that no truly engaged band ever runs out of things to say. In theory, Collideoscope should gain them a place of honor among all the genre-mixing musicians for whom they tore across the borders of perception. Remember when the fact that these guys were black was almost as big a hook as the fact that Eminem is white?

In practice, Collideoscope reinforces the notion that the problem for any artist isn't running out of things to say; it's running out of ways to say them. Reunited, Living Colour grasp their core distinctions: singer Corey Glover continues to meld soul feeling with rock stomp, and guitarist Vernon Reid retains his capacity to hit one chord with the power of 10 (ungraceful solos notwithstanding). Beyond such traits, they struggle, noticeably, to be different.

They crank aggressive changes on reggae on "Nightmare City," but they hit a traditionalist wall on the blues-rock of "Holy Roller." Ever socially conscious, they respond to the numb arrogance of post-9/11 American power with "A ? of When," "Operation Mind Control" and "In Your Name"--each packing enough tightly wound intensity to shame the rest of contemporary thrash. However, "Choices Mash Up: A) Happy Shopper" nearly drowns in scorn heaped on consumers, losing the argument in a tone as self-righteous as Bill O'Reilly.

Conventional composition and performance frequently threaten the best moments of Collideoscope, but semi-salvation emerges from the drummer and the cover song. In the former case, Will Calhoun's decade of outside experience--touring with jazz legend Wayne Shorter, studying aboriginal music in Australia--goads Living Colour past even their own notions of what they should be. His rhythms turn the foursquare into the exploratory.

In the latter case, Living Colour unleash their innate clowns with a ferociously straight take of AC/DC's "Back in Black" and a phantasmagoric trip-hop on the Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows." In "Nova," their perfectly segued coda to John Lennon's psychedelic experience, Living Colour create the shimmering kaleidoscope the rest of the album often occludes.

--Jon M. Gilbertson

13 Live Living Colour Tour Photos from Sept. 21, 2003 @ the Podium in Hardenburg

Living Colour : Live @ the House Of Blues - concert review

Listen Up! Colour Of Soul
by Carter Yarbrough, Special to the Voice
REWIND: Got my small taste of holiday traffic last Wednesday night. I spent 45 minutes in gridlock on the way down to the House of Blues to check out the Living Colour comeback tour. They are back! I never saw their first incarnation, but what I saw at the HOB rocked. Sweating down four albums worth of songs to the 12 most moving messages, the live renditions they delivered of their latest ("Ignorance is Bliss," "Flying," "Sacred Ground") left no doubt how they garnered two consecutive Grammies in ‘89 and ‘90 for "Best Hard Rock Live Performance," Let me tell you, lead vocalist Corey Glover can bring it — screaming like a warrior and storming around in his own private mosh-pit like an ecstatic shaman. Lead guitarist and composer Vernon Reid injects an amalgam of funk and rock styles and on-the-fly innovations. And we can’t forget bassist Will Calhoun and drummer Doug Wimbash, who laid a foundation stout enough for a fortress of sound.

"The band’s first studio album in over ten years sees them staying true to their roots, while keeping their grooves current and hearts open," says the band’s Web site. Many of the songs off "CollideØscope" challenge the rule by fear ("A ? of When"), mourn the consequences of 9-11 ("Song Without Sin") or criticize our current administration’s "Operation Mind Control." "Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay" and the Violent Femmes’ "Please Do Not Go" were standout covers, while the nuclear power of "Cult of Personality" could not be matched with their second encore of "Middle Man."

Over a couple of beers, after the show, I spoke with Glover, who proved personable and positive and more than a little interested in the Bushwhacker Benefit Concerts I’ve been brewing. Along with the new release, you should know about the re-mastered release of the 1988 double platinum album "Vivid."

Collideoscope Review
Shredders Delight

...Of all those acts, the ones with the most commercial success to their name are Living Coloür, the NYC band who won two Grammys during their 1989–1990 heyday. Anchored by guitarist Vernon Reid’s hair-raising riffs, their MTV smash "Cult of Personality" is one of the most enduring rock songs of its era. They opened a Rolling Stones stadium tour and crossed the country with the first Lollapalooza festival. By the time they broke up, in the wake of the 1993 album Stain (Epic), they had set a new standard of popularity for all-black rock bands. But that almost seemed irrelevant to their fans, who were wowed enough by the broad streaks of experimentalism and social consciousness in their music.

There’s an ample supply of those two qualities on Collide0scope (Sanctuary), the first new Living Coloür album in 10 years. Working for the first time without a big-name rock producer, the band use sampling and drum loops more than ever before. But they start things off with the old-fashioned rocker "Song Without Sin," a psychedelic spiritual that proves they can still rumble with the best of them. On "? of When," Reid drops the disc’s thorniest riff and Corey Glover introduces the September 11 theme, something the group also hint at by posing in front of a gray Manhattan sky in the back-cover photo. Glover gets more literal over the gentle pop funk of "Flying," an unsettling look through the eyes of a World Trade Center victim who laments, "Fate has given me wings/Such a terrible funny thing."

Glover is a distinctive frontman whose sly wordplay and maximum-soul bombast have polarized audiences from the start — fans will be happy to hear he hasn’t mellowed with age. Neither has Reid: check out his synapse-frying solo on "Lost Halo," or the sinister pop licks on "Pocket of Tears." Bassist Doug Wimbish and drummer Will Calhoun, who also play together in rapper Mos Def’s rock supergroup Black Jack Johnson, catalyzed the reunion, and they keep pushing the rhythmic boundaries here. The pair of cover songs span the ridiculous and the sublime: the claustrophobic transcendence of "Tomorrow Never Knows" makes it a fitting closer, but Glover’s relentless yelping detracts from the trusty stomp and mischievous double entendre of "Back in Black." Still, as is the case with their old Lollapalooza tourmates Jane’s Addiction, it’s good to have Living Coloür back.

Music : Living Colour - Collide0scope

If there is one statement I can make with absolute certainty when it comes to rock band reunions, it is this:

The idea of a reunion is ALWAYS better than the results of the actual reunion.

Does that keep me from hoping for greatness from artists who have reunited? Hell, no. It's just an observation that has come to me over the years. Living Colour's return to the studio is no exception to this rule. I love Living Colour. I especially dug Time's Up, which was such a blend of styles that it still sounds completely contemporary today. Living Colour was a very important band for me in the midst of the metallic 80's and while Stain was a let down to me in many ways, I still hated to see them break up. That's why the news of their comeback really made me smile.

Collide0scope is no Time's Up but it's no Stain either. It lies somewhere between the two and while it does misfire (and amazingly badly when it does), most of the time it's right where you'd expect Living Colour to be... bottom heavy, funky and hard as hell. Corey Glover's voice is still in prime condition and the rhythm section of Will Calhoun and Doug Wimbish is tight as Hell. Vernon Reid's guitar playing is on par with everything he's ever done and let's face it people... he's a master and should be considered as such. Don't get me started on how criminally overlooked his Mistaken Identity solo disc was.

Where the band shines is on the heavy blues funk of "Holy Roller" and the experimental drum and bass dance grooves of "In Your Name". Living Colour have always shone brightly when they branch out. Where this band makes you cringe is when they cover "Back in Black". Yeah, guys... we get the joke. This needed to be covered and recorded about as much as Kelly Osbourne's version of "Papa Don't Preach".

The good thing is that through the miracle of modern technology, you can program around the songs you don't like and there aren't many on here. Overall, I'd recommend this disc to anyone who liked Living Colour's back catalog and if you happen to see me sometime in the near future, ask me to play you "In Your Name". You'll probably buy the disc based on that song alone.

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