Living Colour

Epic Records, 1988

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


When Living Colour first hit the scene in 1988, they were undoubtedly groundbreakers. A black heavy metal band? Who woulda thunk it? Better yet, who would have guessed it unless you knew any of the players prior to this collaboration?

What Living Colour did in their all-too-brief career together was to knock down the unspoken racial barriers that existed in the world of hard rock and heavy metal. And my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Vivid is a portrait of a band who was hungry enough to claw their way to stardom. 

From the leadoff track (and first single) "Cult Of Personality," Corey Glover and crew set out to not only blaze new trails in hard rock, but to dare to add a touch of melody and funk to the music. Vernon Reid's guitar seems to be set on permanent shred (which proves to be his downfall), while Muzz Skillings and William Calhoun lay down the foundation on bass and drums, respectively.

Had Vivid only contained one good song in "Cult Of Personality," it would still be of note to check out. Fortunately, the strong performances continue throughout most of the album. "Open Letter (To A Landlord)" is both a political statement that transcends race and a damned pretty song, while "I Want To Know" is further proof that Living Colour was not a one-hit wonder.

Other well-known songs like "Glamour Boys" and "Middle Man" might not have had the polish and glitz of the first single, but they are worth checking out nonetheless. "Middle Man" is a track that has grown on me over the years. Still others, like "Which Way To America?", make you wonder why they never got a fair shake on the radio.

There are one or two tracks which are throwaways, such as "What's Your Favorite Color? (Theme Song)". But these are few and far between. If anything, the only real disappointment on Vivid is that Reid doesn't slow down his playing as often as he should. His guitar style could be very soulful when he wanted it to be - why he wanted to sound like Joe Satriani on speed I don't think I'll ever fully understand.

Vivid has lost very little of its punch a decade after its release, and stands as a solid hard rock/heavy metal album, no matter what the color of the artist creating it. For Reid and crew, this album proved that Living Colour was no gimmick, but was the real thing.

Rating: A-

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© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Epic Records, and is used for informational purposes only.