The band that brought us “Cult of Personality” back in 1988 is back after an 8 year hiatus from their last album. Living Colour released their new album, ‘Shade’ on September 8th 2017 and it sounds like this band has a lot to say. Their social commentary on today’s society is definitely worth listening to and not only will it open your eyes to life today, it will open your ears to some damn fine music.
The title of the album, ‘Shade’, has many different meanings for this album. It could be referring to the many shades of color the album brings in its different styles and sounds. Or is the band throwing ‘Shade’ at America and all that has been happening over the years. I think it is both, but you should listen and decide for yourself.
What I really love about this album is the variety of the songs. You, of course, get some hard rock, some funk, some blues and some hip hop and when they mix them up together in the song it gets even better. Corey Glover sounds amazing throughout as does Vernon Reid with his kick ass solos, Doug Wimbash’s bass thumping and Will Calhoun’s drum keep the timing set perfectly.
Two of the blues songs they have are both covers. “Preachin’ Blues” is a cover of one a Robert Johnson’s classic songs and “Inner City Blues” is a Marvin Gaye cover. With “Preachin’ Blues” they turn the blues song into a sort of metal blues song. It has the blues guitar sound mixed with some heavy drums and bass and a lot more energy which adds a nice twist to the song. And on “Inner City Blues”, they add a preacher at the beginning and at the end of the song telling it like it is. The song then starts out with that same Marvin soulful singing and then kicks in to rock mode where the song then goes back and forth between the two styles.
One of my favorite songs on the album is “Program”. It is the heaviest song on the album and they mix some hip hop into it with a nice rapping commentary on recent officer shootings throughout the country. What is also great about this song is the opening with a record produce (I assume) asking about Living “Fucking” Cover which is quite funny. The hard driving song is worth the whole experience.
Another great song is the creative cover of The Notorious B.I.G.’s song “Who Shot Ya?”. Again, Living Colour is throwing shade out to the country and the amount gun violence in America. They take a hip hop song and turn into both a rap and rock song. They make the song their own and give you another great tune that makes you think.
Living Colour also changes things up with “Come On” which you would swear is a Lenny Kravitz song as the style and sound would fit well on any of his albums. The opening track “Freedom of Expression (F.O.X.)” is probably the most Living Colour song on the album. And what I mean by that is that to me it sounds like what I remember the band sounded like back in the day of “Cult of Personality”. It is a fun, energetic rock song.
The album ends with “Two Sides” which is a great little funked up song. It is reminder of how well Corey sings and what great musicians they are. It is nice way to end the album with a little slower pace because by now you are exhausted from what has been thrown out at you. The song even features a cameo by George Clinton.
The remaining standouts “Always Wrong” (Vernon’s guitar sound & Corey’s vocals on the chorus – wow!!), “Blak Out” (Doug’s thumping bass is awesome) and “Who’s That” (the bluesy, New Orleans jazz sound…damn!) are the last of the songs I would keep on the album as there wasn’t much I didn’t like about this album. There were a few songs I didn’t like “Pattern in Time” and “Glass Teeth” which to me were just average songs and a little filler. Despite the great guitar of Vernon, “Invisible” was another song that I didn’t want to listen to over and over. If you would cut out these 3 songs, you would have an exceptional 10 track album that would be almost perfect.
- “Freedom of Expression (F.O.X.)” – Keeper
- “Preachin’ Blues” – Keeper
- “Come On” – Keeper
- “Program” – Keeper
- “Who Shot Ya?” – Keeper
- “Always Wrong” – Keeper
- “Blak Out” – Keeper
- “Pattern in Time” – Delete
- “Who’s That” – Keeper
- “Glass Teeth” – Delete
- “Invisible” – Delete
- “Inner City Blues” – Keeper
- “Two Sides” – Keeper
10 keepers out 13 songs – 77% (3.8 out 5 stars) It was another unexpected surprise from an old band that is still putting out relevant, great music. Like Styx, Cheap Trick and many others this year, the old bands are still showing they still got it. I absolutely love the variety of the songs on this album and the guys playing is top notch. The album has a life to it that sounds like the band is having a great time. I hope they are and I hope they stick around awhile longer and not wait so long before the next album. Give this one a listen and you will love Living “Fucking” Colour again.