Sunday, January 29, 2006

CD Review: Living Colour - Everything is Possible: The Very Best of Living Colour

Do you ever revisit a band that you hadn't listened to in a long time, and when you do, do you start to notice things that you'd never heard before? That's what listening to this Living Colour album was like for me.

Living Colour's first album, Vivid, came out back in 1988, just around the time I was getting into music. I know, later than most, but at least I discovered it, right? Anyway, I really liked this album and the 1990 follow-up, Time's Up. But, as my lack of musical focus attests, my attention drifted to other pursuits. Over the years my tastes have widened somewhat, and my ear has changed. Whether or not that makes me any better a judge of music has yet to be seen. Back to the CD, before I get too sidetracked.

Everything is Possible collects the best cuts from their five albums, plus one from a soundtrack. The two albums with the largest representation are those classic first two, with 11 of the 17 songs. Something else I like about the disk is that it has the tracks in chronological order by album. I've never particularly cared for when songs aren't put in order; one of the best things about greatest hits collections are listening to a bands' progression, or lack thereof.

We begin our tour through Living Colour's history with their biggest hit, "Cult of Personality." The song starts strong with a defined riff progression, and backbeat that you can't help but get sucked into, then the powerful, clean vocals come in over top of everything, tying it all together. From there we move on to the somber "Open Letter (To a Landlord)" and the attack on yuppies with "Glamour Boys."

The highlights of Time's Up are "Pride" and the title track. Included amidst the originals are a couple of cover songs, Jimi Hendrix' "Burning of the Midnight Lamp" from the album Biscuits, and a rather heavy version of Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love" from the True Lies soundtrack. Closing the album is a soul/hip hop remix of "Love Rears its Ugly Head," a song that originally appeared on Time's Up.

Listening to Vernon Reid's guitar wizardry was absolutely eye-opening for the entire run. I always recognized him as an exceptional player, but listening with the experience I have amassed over the years, I hear a player who is clearly one of the best out there. He can sustain heavy riffs, play blazing solos, and switch styles at the drop of a hat. Add to that the jazzy, funky rhythm section of Muzz Skillings on bass, and later Doug Wimbish, and William Calhoun on drums. Last but not least is the amazing voice of Corey Glover, delivering lyrical commentary with conviction and soul.

Listening to all of these songs again for the first time in a long time, I am amazed how well they hold up. The music does not feel dated; this could be released as new and blend in with the current musical landscape. Living Colour's fusion of rock and metal with jazz, funk, and blues becomes a truly original sound.

Bottomline. This is a great set that showcases the talent that this band possessed. For anyone looking for some driving rock with a dash of originality, and lyrical content which is still relevant to the current climate, this is a good place to start. I know there must be a lot of younger rock fans looking for something more, this would be a good place to start.

Highly Recommended

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