Written by Russ P
Saturday, 31 October 2009 16:24
Six years after their last studio album Living Colour release 'The Chair In The Doorway'. I've been looking forward to this. It's been so long it seems to me like they've split up again and reformed.
Living Colour's last album 'Collideøscope' remains my one and only DVD-Audio experience - a very strange one at that. Listening to it in stereo is like having an inept mechanic between the music and the speakers who reassembles the music the best they can but has some semi-quavers, bars and a few vocal phrases left over. Listening to it in 5.1 surround sound is fantastic…as long as you're prepared to set aside some quality time, dust off the La-Z-Boy, retreat to your inner sanctum and sit still for an hour encapsulated inside the glorious sweet spot. Personally I'm keen to get back to plain good old-fashioned stereo.
My first listen to this the all new album was not disappointing - it was frankly disturbing. Like millions across the globe I listen to most of my music on an iPod - which is only as good as the earphones plugged into it and mine, I'm afraid to say, were found to be lacking. The result was less an album and more something that can only be described as the Will Calhoun experience where all I could hear were drums. The guitars were distant and cowering in the corners and the bass? What bass? I found it difficult to 'hear' the songs at all.
For me the album only really started to wake up and make sense when I freed it from its headphone shackles and cranked it up though 'real' speakers. I discovered a lost world of mega-low bass-end supporting the drums and delivering the power that the opening tracks demand particularly 'Burned Bridges' and 'Decadance'. Don't make the same mistake I did. Don't pen this album in. It's a monster.
Top track for me is something of an oddity for a Living Colour song. It's called 'Method'. It's eerie. It's atmospheric. It has echoes of Gary Numan and early Peter Gabriel and I love it. It's not a far cry from my all-time Living Colour favourite 'This is the Life' from their second album 'Time's Up'.
'Method' sets the tone for the remainder of the album which contains a purple patch of great songs. 'Behind The Sun', with its 'Green-Tinted Sixties Mind' intro, shows off the band at their most melodic. If this album has a single release this should be it. 'Bless Those' is a classic rich aromatic blend of the Living Colour influences of blues, soul, funk and heavy rock with a thinly disguised reggae bassline sped up and thrown in for good measure. 'Hard Times' has huge Black Sabbathy chords in the chorus. I could even imagine Ozzy singing this song, not that I want to you understand, I'll take Corey Glover over Ozzy every time.
'That's What I Taught You' reminds me of a song that The Wild Family could have recorded. A thousand apologies for this unashamed esoteric comparison to a band that only a few have heard of - and I do mean a few - around three to be exact - I've counted them. Okay, scratch The Wild Family and choose from the following: Glenn Hughes, Lenny Kravitz or Span.
Final track 'Not Tomorrow' comes across like a meditative groove-based outro. I'm back in Peter Gabriel territory thinking of 'Exposure' or The Beatles' 'Tomorrow Never Knows', which Living Colour covered on their last album incidentally.
Hidden track, and album encore, 'Asshole' is a fun and worthwhile addition reminding me of The Who's 'Boris The Spider' and classic 50s rock and roll at the same time. Every asshole should get up at the end of a Living Colour gig and twist and shout to this tune.
So, after my initial disappointment, it all turns out well in the end. This is a damn fine album which is on constant rotation in my house alongside 'Vivid' and 'Time's Up'. I'm very excited that Living Colour are also playing a short series of UK dates in December. I'm spoilt for choice as well. It's a toss-up between Cardiff and Bristol for me. Or, if I'm really lucky the coin will land on it's edge and I'll go to both of them.