Wednesday, September 19, 2007

History of Hard Rock/Heavy Metal:

Living Colour is a hard rock band formed in New York City in 1983 by Vernon Reid. They signed to Epic Records in 1987 and released their first album Vivid in 1988. Stylistically their music is a creative fusion influenced by guitar-based rock, funk, heavy metal, free jazz, hardcore punk and hip hop.

They are best remembered for the hits "Cult of Personality", which won a Grammy Award for best hard rock performance in 1989, and "Type" - their highest charting single. They were also named Best New Artist at the 1989 MTV Video Music Awards.

Reid, British-born but a longtime New York resident, was well known on the downtown New York jazz scenes courtesy of his tenure in Ronald Shannon Jackson's Decoding Society. A guitarist of unnerving technique and speed, he assembled a number of bands under the name Living Colour from 1983 to 1986

In 1986, the lineup became bassist Muzz Skillings, drummer Will Calhoun, who had graduated with honors from Berklee College of Music, and vocalist Corey Glover (who Reid met at a birthday party and was suitably impressed with a rendition of "Happy Birthday"). In Calhoun and particularly Skillings, Reid had a rhythm section with the ability to express themselves in dozens of forms, and in Glover he had a vocalist who could produce depths of soul or rage upon demand. Soon after they became regulars on the touring circuit, including regular gigs at the seminal club CBGB's.

Aided by a demo produced by fan Mick Jagger, they scored a record deal with Epic Records, and released Vividin the middle of 1988, reaching #6 on the Billboard 200. The album gathered sales momentum only when in late 1988 MTV began playing the video for "Cult of Personality." They gained further exposure as an opening act (with Guns N' Roses) for the 1989 Rolling Stones tour of stadiums throughout the USA.

Their second effort, Time's Up, was a sprawling affair that capitalized on the ability of its members to work in numerous musical contexts; thrash metal, punk, jazz fusion, delta blues, hip hop (cameos by Queen Latifah and Doug E. Fresh), funk, jive, and hints of electronica were all represented. The album reached #13 on the Billboard chart and won a Grammy for Best Hard Rock Album.

Bass player Muzz Skillings left the group soon after due to creative differences and was replaced by Doug Wimbish. This new incarnation released the album Stain in 1993, revealing an emotionally darker, more personal side of the group. The album only reached #26 on the chart. Despite retaining their strong fan base, the band split on January 1995 after failing to settle on a common musical goal during sessions for their fourth full-length album. Four of these tracks were included on the compilation Pride.

Individual members released a variety of solo efforts until the band finally reformed for good on December 22, 2000. The reunion was followed by the release of another dark record, Collideøscope, in 2003.

1 comment:

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