LIVING COLOUR: Introducing ‘Blu Metal’ (2014)

Published on January 4th, 2014


“BACK when I was a kid, in the stone age, this used to be an old furniture store,” Corey Glover tells the hipsters paradise that is the Brooklyn Bowl. “And Hotel across the road, than was a vacant warehouse where I used to skateboard all day.
“There’s no video of it. That would be embarrassing.”
Vernon Reid pipes up. “It’s embarrassing right now now.”
With that quip, Glover – the 49-year-old singer of Living Colour – dedicates the next song “to New York” and starts crooning “Amazing Grace”, which segueways into “Open Letter To A Landlord”. Self-styled in the late 1980s as “children of concrete and steel”, Living Colour are at home.
Outside, a snowstorm is blanketing Brooklyn in a fine, deep piste which the next day will result in thousands of flights being cancelled. “I wouldn’t have come tonight,” Glover, an actor in the movie Platoon, confides to the hardy audience, “but I’m glad you did.”
Over two hours, next to a stylised neon-lit bowling alley, Living Colour play all of their 1988 debut Vivid. As musicians they dazzle, as showmen they amuse and as survivors of this place but a different time, they intrigue.
Standing in front of guitarist Reid is a mesmerising experience as he manipulates his fretboard at Superman-speed, kicking off with blues and travelling through metal, reggae and funk before turning around and making the journey back again. Apparently he is about help invent a new genre – more of that later.
Glover (“Glory Lover,” Reid jokes to the fans) is a comedic talent as well as a vocalist who has held much of his range over the years, although the Body Glove shorts are thankfully long gone.
Drummer Will Calhoun remains at the peek of his craft, while bassist Doug Wimbish – who did not play on Vivid, which celebrated its 25 birthday last year – is clearly a technician of the highest order, but one with a ear and hand for melody and pathos. Both their solos defy expectations.
For the encore, Glover – these days in baggy shorts, button-down shirt with tie and waistcoat – climbs onto a platform on stage right and then takes a stroll through the audience, high fiving the jubilant and the nostalgic.
Australian hit “Love Rears Its Ugly Head” is overlook but there’s a sublime cover of “Walk On The Wildside”, playing to the shared New York musical heritage of the late Lou Reed, and a thumping “Time’s Up”. There’s a snow storm outside, but in here everyone is blown away.
When it’s all over, Wimbish promises a new album this year and there’s an almighty cheer. Once you’ve played your most popular album live in its entiret, you’ve got to find somewhere else to go.
“We took ourselves off the scene for a couple of years, intentionally,” Wimbish tells Hot Metal. “…so that we could reshape the shape of the notes we were doing and reorganise our business and stuff and not get too caught up in this system.
“We’re rebooting the hard drive and we’re up and running again, making a new album.”
That new genre? Wimbish describes the band’s new sound as “Blu Metal” – a wordplay on Nu Metal. “We’ve been engaging in a blues-based environment,” he says.”We’re looking at exploring and doing … let’s just call it ‘Blu Metal’.
“We’re trying to expand into something that we’ve been influenced by, from early Howlin’ Wolf days to Robert Johnson and how that influenced folks from UK and American bands … Led Zeppelin or the Rolling Stones.
“What is Living Colour’s interpretation or take on that?”
After taking part in the Shiprocked Cruise at the end of January, Living Colour will be in Australia for the Soundwave Festival. “When I run into Australians, they ask me when we’re going,” says Wimbish.
Rumour has it that Mick Jagger offered to pay the entire cancellation costs of a 1993 Australian tour just so Wimbish could join the Rolling Stones.
“I was the one who introduced Mick Jagger to Living Colour and then I ended up in the band,” he recalls. “When they needed a bass player, I was their first call, I was their first choice because I’d already worked with Ronnie (Wood) and I’d worked with Charlie (Watts) and Mick.
“But I was in Living Colour at the time and I chose to stay with the band. My integrity and honesty and commitment that goes with myself first has to play out for life.
“I’m very happy to have been offered the chance to join the Rolling Stones but I’m more happy to have stayed in the band that I’m a (full) member of.”
Whatever the new album sounds like – they’re opening shows these days with “Preachin Blues” – the subject matter will not become anodyne.
“Social media and the internet can counter Rupert Murdoch’s networks,” said Wimbish “The truth can be told. You can actually see a face and get some different information rather than what one media source is putting out.
“Living Colour has always been a band that’s been engaged in what’s going on in life now.
“For example, when 911 happened in America, there were a lot of bands that would not touch that subject. Why? The sensitivity of it. The patriotic scenario that was happening at that time. We were one of the first bands to write a song, called “Flying”, talking about 911, talking about the reality of what was taking place at that time through the eyes of … we saw a photo of a person jumping out of the World Trade Center smiling.
“Our heart doesn’t pump Kool-aid.
“We were Living Colour. We’re like the news with a beat.”



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