Living Colur’s “Vivid” Album Turns 30

Thirty years ago today, Living Colour released their debut album Vivid (Epic Records) on an unexpected heavy music community and changed music history. After a few years of slogging it out in different bands in 1980s New York City, four virtuosos came together like Voltron to form a superior band that challenged the notion of what a band could do, and be wildly successful at it. They certainly weren’t a and overnight success or a flash in the pan, or a one- hit wonder, but they did have a legit hit record, at the same time ar Guns N Roses were blazing up the charts and clubs, hair metal was de rigor and thrash had yet to break through with Metallica. Corey Glover, Vernon Reid, Will Calhoun, and Muzz Skillings (who departed the band after their sophomore rel[qrcode size=”4″ px_size=”2″ frame_size=”5″][/qrcode]ease in 1992), poured so much heart and soul into this album you can almost taste it.   

A veritable kitchen sink of musical styles, combining elements of rock, metal, Jazz fusion, funk, R & B, Afro-Cuban, Latin, thrash, hardcore punk, blues and shred, Living Colour knew no bounds musically, but were able to stack all these elements together in a flawless songs, that felt authentic and true. Early heads may have been attracted to Reid’s sick shredding ability or Glover’s insane vocal range, but they stayed for the grooves and hooks. The lead single ‘Cult of Personality’ surely put them on the map, and even on the radio, which for the time was wild. They made a splash on MTV with their timely political video that also showed off the band as performers and captured what there frenetic shows were like back then. However, the album is so much deeper than that first track. Song after song the album was killer. Tracks like ‘Middle Man’, Desperate People, ‘Open Letter To A Landlord’, ‘Funny vibe’, Broken Hearts, Glamour Boys’, ‘What’s Your Favorite Color?’ were amazing, well-written, expertly performed tracks that showed off their skills. The songs also dealt with topics lyrically that hit hard for 1988: racism, consumerism, religion, economic disparity, political struggles, gentrification and more. It’s pretty crazy that listening back to the album now, that it all still rings true.

The album boasts a sweet production by Ed Stasium, known more for his work with hardcore bands, and a bit from Mick Jagger (whom Reid toured with in his solo band) and even clocked an appearance by Chuck D and Flavor Flav of Public Enemy. Filtering all of their experiences as New Yorkers in one of the most tumultuous times ever made the album would make an impact on people, but have real staying power all these years later.

KEITH CHACHKES

 

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