There was a long span of time through the 70’s and 80’s where rock was the realm of white guys with long hair. Never mind the musical roots that rock evolved from or that Jimi Hendrix was the original guitar hero. He died in 1970 after all and by the mid 80’s that was a distant haze. There were fleeting exceptions to the norm along the way, but by and large when you saw black groups performing music on TV, if it wasn’t jazz it was reggae, or increasingly, rap – the new force in popular culture. Black kids rapped, they didn’t rock, or so everyone insisted.
In 1986 Run-D.M.C. teamed up with Aerosmith and brilliantly broke down the divide between two seemingly warring genres, but it wasn’t until ’88 when Living Colour reminded everyone with tons of neon and metal that rock and roll belongs to everyone. That labeling people by their skin tone is just as shallow in music as it is in any other endeavor. I can’t stand even mentioning that, but I well remember the awe at seeing them on TV, and how it conflicted with my brainwashed world view.
And holy shit were they fresh. Corey Glover and Vernon Reid became household names. Reid’s guitar was fully ablaze. Glover was especially on fire as frontman, having come off of a small role in an Oscar winning film called, “Platoon.” Their rad videos dominated MTV and with a little help from Mick Jagger, they became one of the most visible bands of the late 80’s.
They’ve got a new release, called “The Chair In The Doorway,” that I think recalls some of that former greatness. It’s out today on Megaforce. Dig this clip of their new track, “Behind the Sun,” recorded at WNYC’s Soundcheck studio.
Band site: livingcolourmusic.com