This group was one of the few worth listing to back in the dark musical days of the late 1980’s-early 90’s. Their first album, Vivid, was a breath of much needed fresh air into a dying hard rock scene, ironically just before the grunge explosion. Living Colour was a good bit more musically sophisticated than any of those bands, however, with their varied backgrounds in the NY avant-jazz scene. They could swing like a mother, though (something that can’t really be said for their closest competitors like Sonic Youth or Husker Du, Naked City excepted). Killer rhythm section, terrific singer (with great lyrics to boot), and, in guitarist Vernon Reid, a true original.
The follow-up, Time’s Up, was even more ambitious, if a bit less focused. This band was shaping up to maybe be one of the best ever, I thought. Then, after an EP of rarities (another great recording) the original lineup split. That was a damn shame. Some recordings followed (with a replacement drummer I think), but I was really hooked on this group as a “group” (rf. Zeppelin, The Who). Just wasn’t the same for me.
This live recording dates between these first 2 studio albums, and it’s terrific. No arena setting here, just jamming away at CBCG’s. There is a fair amount of material not on any of the official albums, and some cool rearrangements of those that are, as one would expect (i.e., expect the unexpected). The sound mixing is a bit of a mystery to me. Reid’s guitar sounds a bit too much in the background, but I’m still working my way through the ambiance of all, and that could just be first impressions.
LC fan or wannabe, this is a recording worth owning, from the masterful original lineup.