Listen Up: Wednesday, October 22, 2003
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Living Colour

Collideoscope (Sanctuary Records)

By Ken Shimamoto

When the members of Living Colour rip into AC/DC’s “Back in Black” in the middle of their new c.d., Collideoscope, the effect is jarring. Almost as jarring, maybe as the times toward the end of their initial run when they shared stages with the Rolling Stones and Guns ’N Roses. Here were these NYC brothas with sensibilities broad enough to encompass rock, jazz, funk, and hip-hop, proudly playing the shit out of metallic rock like they owned it. This was metal, but with a difference. The wildest flights by guitarist Vernon Reid (from Ronald Shannon Jackson’s Decoding Society) could veer into the out-of-control atonality of Sonny Sharrock, Corey Glover’s voice was more melodic than your average metalhead’s shriek or growl, and the supple interaction between the riddim section — drummer Will Calhoun (a Berklee alum) and bassist Doug Wimbish (Sugar Hill Records’ house four-stringer) — was about roll as much as rock. Living Colour with mainstreamers like the Stones and GNR? What the funk?

These guys have specialized in socially conscious roar and thump since their breakthrough Clear Channel/MTV hit “Cult of Personality” (although their sophomore c.d. Time’s Up was a stronger statement), and they continue in that vein here with tunes like “Operation Mind Control” (“It’s the battle for America’s soul”) and “Nightmare City.” The shadow of 9/11 hangs over Collideoscope like a pall. “Flying” trumps every other song inspired by that day, eschewing jingoistic claptrap and focusing instead on the human dimension of the tragedy.

“? Of When” addresses “homeland security” paranoia, while “In Your Name” calls out the makers of the “war on terrorism” with more subtlety than either Dylan’s “Masters of War” or Ozzy’s “War Pigs.”

More to the point, Living Colour can still deliver the musical goods. Reid takes a back seat to nobody in the shred sweepstakes, Glover’s lost none of his impressive range or leather-lunged power, and the Calhoun-Wimbish engine room alternately pounds like a jackhammer and careens like a runaway locomotive. As Glover sings on “Choices Mash Up,” “This is what you want, this is what you get.”


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