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Living Colour | Collideoscope | review | rock | Lollipop

Living Colour

CollideØscope (Sanctuary)
by TimDen

Make no mistake: Living Colour were/are a tremendous band. Each member not only holds their own in terms of technical prowess/originality, their collaborative results have always been one step ahead of the ignorant masses who mislabeled them "art metal." Much like Faith No More, Living Colour were far more than a metal band. Sure, they were a "rock band" (guitar/bass/drums), but they more closely resembled a dissonant James Brown/Bad Brains mutant. The rhythm section of bassist/backup vocalist (and now keyboardist as well) Doug Wimbish and drummer William Calhoun threw in enough backward funk beats to bend the entire Motown back catalog, while vocalist Corey Glover's "soul 'n' roll" power was always as much Al Green as it was Mick Jagger.

However, as much as I wanted CollideØscope to be the texturous monster that the band's first three albums were, I simply can't deny its weak nature. After witnessing the band on their reunion tour last year, I thought for sure CollideØscope was going to blow the roof off of rock's delapidated shack, but what I got in return was a 15-song (way too long), under-produced (muddy guitars, tin can drums, poorly EQ-ed vocals), rehash of a dated record. "Song Without Sin" and "A ? of When" (the latter a complete ripoff of their own "Elvis Is Dead") are so outdated, they conjure up images of paint-stained baggy pants (remember those?), while "Operation Mind Control" is a static-TV lobotomy (even if it's supposed to be "ironic" cuz of the lyrics, it ain't worth the tape it was tracked onto) and "Choices Mash Up; A) Happy Shopper" is pointless despite the quietly dignified repetition of "are we not the sons of slaves?" Then there are the covers: "Back in Black" sounds like a dying cat, stuffed with a middle school guitar sound and an intolerably screechy Glover; "Tomorrow Never Knows" embarasses itself by turning a haunting Beatles song into a half-assed "electronic" montage.

The only moments of brilliance are when the band play up their strengths of diversity, particularly on the creepy "Nightmare City," the bluesy "Holy Roller," and the light-yet-tragic "Flying." In these instances, they make you remember how songs like "Solace of You" and "Funny Vibe" were incredible without ever succumbing to distortion or blind momentum. If only Living Colour were able to excercise that same restraint upon the rest of the "heavy" songs...

By all means, see these guys live when they come to your town, because they will smoke the joint up. Glover's voice, even without a mic, can overpower the stage like a solstice sun. But CollideØscope will only make sense if you're a diehard fan, cuz otherwise be prepared to receive a demo-quality comeback that isn't even worth Vivid b-sides status.

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