Living Colour: Chair in the Doorway (Megaforce)

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Living Colour: Young Man
Living Colour: Chair in the Doorway (Megaforce)

With their 89 breakthrough debut Vivid, Living Colour were hailed as the first black rock band, the politics of race/the media around them was talked up by the Black Rock Coalition, and guitarist Vernon Reid repeatedly noted now they were through the door the media (MTV, Rolling Stone etc) would close it. One black rock band was enough, thank you.

He was mostly right.

Living Colour delivered hard rock with funk and hip hop in the mix, bludgeoning riffery and Reid’s guitar playing which owed as much to free jazz players like James Blood Ulmer as it did Jimmy Page.

Most of their music was unfocused, there were line-up changes and they quit in the mid 90s, only to reform at the start of this decade.

This, their second since, doesn’t depart too much from the template of funk’n’free jazz-influenced heavy rock fronted by Corey Glover’s powerful vocals, punched in by Doug Wimbush and Will Calhoun (bass and drums) and given edge by Reid’s dramatic chords and scattergun solos.

Time -- and Mars Volta, TV on the Radio and BLK JKS -- may have prepared the ground for a new audience, but Living Colour (with a few exceptions here like the scouring drive of Behind the Sun, the blues-rock Bless Those, the screaming ker-runch of Out of My Mind) still sound like better political argument than a band to command your stereo.

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