Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Living Colour, "Solace of You"

I saw Living Colour earlier this week, and have been on a kick ever since. I thought it would be a good nostalgia show, and it was--their energy and musicianship is always first rate. But the songs also held up much better than I remembered. "Cult of Personality" is deservedly a classic, but the range of tracks they performed from Vivid and Time's Up made me wonder why both of those records are underrated in 2014.

My co-attendee commented on how surprisingly diverse their influences are, and that may have something to do with it. A band that covers Robert Johnson, Talking Heads, "Amazing Grace," MC5 and James Brown all in the same night is bound to alienate someone. The hipsters who know "Cult of Personality" probably lump it in with Megadeth and the other thrash metal bands they ignore, and headbangers who bought Vivid likely wanted more meat and potatoes rocking. But for those of us who enjoy more than one type of music, Living Colour offers a plethora of riches.

"Solace of You," from Time's Up, sounds like it could have been written and recorded for Paul Simon's Graceland. Living Colour are often wrongly described as "funk metal" (or worse, rap-metal) by people who don't know how to handle the individuality of an all-black rock band. But more so, Living Colour gave metal a stronger sense of African-American tropes and history than any other band, exhibited by the American Afrobeat of "Solace of You." Not only did they bring something to the game that distinguished them from Metallica and Guns N' Roses, but they beat (and bested) Vampire Weekend and tUnE-yArDs to these polyrythms by about 18 years.

No comments: