There are many mysteries in the universe. Is there a God? Is there life after death? What exactly are black holes? And the biggest one of all - why wasn't Living Colour huge?
West Indian guitarist Vernon Reid was born in London but raised in NYC. He teamed up with vocalist Corey Glover just after Glover appeared in Oliver Stone's film Platoon. The two came together in a rather unconventional way. It was at a mutual friend's birthday party. Glover's rendition of "Happy Birthday" made a big impression on Reid. Turns out, the Reid-Glover combination was one of the most dynamic in Rock. With Muzz Skillings (bass) and Will Calhoun (drums) the group hit CBGB's. While at the New York venue Mick Jagger invited them to play on his "Primitive Cool" album. Considering the talent involved it's surprising the album didn't turn out better. Regardless, Jagger returned the favor by producing a couple demos and championing the group. Thanks to Jagger's support, along with a killer demo, Living Colour was signed by Epic. Their debut album "Vivid" hit in '88. The hard driving Funk/Rocker "Cult of Personality" made a dent as they hit the road opening for Cheap Trick and Robert Palmer. In '90, they earned a gold record for "Time's Up" which contained "Elvis Is Dead" with Little Richard. But success didn't last.
A collection of unreleased material and live tracks "Biscuits" was released in '91, largely as a place holder, because the group just couldn't get an album together. Skillings called in quits in '92 and was replaced by Doug Wimbish. A year later "Stain" was released. The group officially disbanded in '95. But in '03 they got back together for the "Collideoscope" album.
Living Colour's return spurred the release of "Live From CBGBs," recorded back in '89. And there was "Everything Is Possible: The Very Best Of Living Colour."
Glover did a spin as Judas in the road-company of Jesus Christ Superstar. Doug Pinnick took over lead vocals until Glover's return in '08. Then came group's first DVD, On Stage At World Café Live.
Living Colour's fifth studio album, "The Chair In The Doorway," dropped in '09. Glover said Living Colour put more effort into "Doorway's" songwriting process than on previous sets because they were "a little more concerned about . . . what needed to be said." The 11-track disc was recorded in the Czech Republic.
Living Colour's Punk/Funk Metal is something to behold. "Time's Up" with "Type" ("we are the children of concrete and steel"), a catalog of cultural influences, is the group's best effort. The set also contains the fierce "Elvis Is Dead." The earlier release "Vivid" is a masterful debut that includes the tongue-in-cheek "Glamour Boys" ("I'm fierce"). Released just before the group bit the dust, "Stain" is surprisingly strong.
"Collideoscope" returns Living Colour without missing a beat. "A ? Of When" is a pure riff Rocker - lean and driven. Opener "Song Without Sin" and "Nightmare City" demand attention. Interestingly, Living Colour does a couple covers. Their "Back In Black" is funkier than AC/DC's original but just as powerful. They turn John Lennon's dreamy "Tomorrow Never Knows" into a full-on guitar splintering effort. Glover's reading is part mystic, part Rocker. Both the originals, including ballad "Pocket "of Tears," and the covers score. It's time the world caught up with Living Colour. Maybe this time around.
Comeback albums are always dicey. The return effort is inevitably compared with the group's best - not the group's more recent work. With that in mind, "Chair In The Doorway" doesn't have a "Cult Of Personality" or "Type" but it's still a worthy effort.
Living Colour tends to go overboard on noise, most notably on "The Chair" and "Hard Times," which benefits from a killer guitar part. They show their dexterity on a pair of mid-tempo songs. The airy "Bless Those" is countered by the dense "Taught Me." The infectious groove of "Not Tomorrow" rolls effortlessly. Even so, it's eclipsed by set closer "Asshole," the album's lone kick-ass track.