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Live at CBGB's Tuesday 12/19/89

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(5 Reviews)

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  • 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.

    Posted on November 15, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • It’s a pleasure to listen to this great band, specially with this gifted bass player (Muzzy, we miss your playing).

    Mindblowing: Cult of personality and FUnny vibe (speed meets swing and balance).

    Also check the bootleg LIVE 1989/90

    Underrated band, unfortunately

    Posted on November 15, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • In 1989, Living Colour were on top of the world– a bonafide hit song received tons of airplay in “Cult of Personality”, and the band, back home in New York, played their old haunt CBGBs. Professionally recorded, the show saw release sixteen years later.

    One thing about Living Colour live is the enormous amount of energy they bring to the stage– this is never really captured appropriately on record. The best example of this is “Middle Man”. A fairly muddling song on album, it explodes in live performance here. Likewise, powerful performances of “Funny Vibe” and “Open Letter to a Landlord” (feautring an extended intro a superb lasst chorus with guitarist Vernon Reid dropping out and bassist Muzz Skillings picking up his line).

    In addition, several then-new songs made appearances at this show– a bunch were destined for their next album, “Time’s Up”, like “Love Rears Its Ugly Head” (getting a fantastic reading here that captures the energy of the piece better than the studio take does) and a somewhat overly forceful “Solace of You”. In addition, two songs that never surfaced on an album (“Soldier’s Blues”, “Little Lies”) are on this record. While neither is exactly fantastic, it’s nice to hear “new” old material.

    Something stops me from giving this five stars, probably because I’ve seen them do better shows live (if they come anywhere close to you, check them out!), but this is a fantastic disc. Recommended.

    Posted on November 15, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • I love ya Doug, but Muzz’s playing still gives me chills. This is the young, raw Living Colour at their best! This is not a bootleg with poor sound quality, this concert was well recorded and the CD is well produced (Vernon did it!). I’ve seen Living Colour live several times over the years, I wish I could have seen them at CBGB’s. I saw them in ‘89 at Mississippi Nights in St. Louis, and this CD brought those memories flooding back. Living Colour is always best live. When you have a group this talented, they can often improvise and make changes on the fly. That happens a few times on this CD. Some songs from “Time’s Up” are on this CD, even though that CD wasn’t out yet. So you hear how those songs changed a little when the group was testing them out live. All fans of Living Colour should own this CD. I hope they do one from a recent concert.

    Posted on November 14, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Living Colour has released a real gem to its fans with “Live at CBGB’s…”. Having witnessed the stellar Living Colour perform live only twice (on the Time’s Up and Stain tours), I have been yearning to hear more live material from one of the 20th Century’s greatest American rock bands.

    This newly-released live show from CGBG’s in New York (1989) does not disappoint. The mix is very clear, and the performance by all four original members of the group (Reid, Glover, Calhoun and Skillings), is phenomenal. Vernon Reid’s mastery of his instrument is demonstrated in abundance on this record, rivalling the live work of any legendary guitarist. Not having the benefit of a studio rhythm guitar track, Reid pushes himself to recreate the lush soundscapes and fierce rhythmic assaults featured on the albums using only his single guitar and masterful use of effects to further embellish his playing.

    Will Calhoun and Muzz Skillings illustrate what a great rock/soul rhythm section can accomplish, and Corey Glover’s powerful vocal range is met and EXPANDED (!) on this live workout. He manages to take a few cues from Prince and really belts it out to eyebrow-raising effect on most of the record.

    Recorded between the release of the albums “Vivid” and “Time’s Up”, this show features several songs from Time’s Up, not yet released when this show was recorded. “Pride” and “Fight The Fight” are performed in nearly note-perfect form…along with a couple songs that THIS L.C. fan has never heard before.

    This recording is a masterpiece, and showcases the soulful and learned capabilities of this exceptional band. If you are a fan of Living Colour at all (especially their early era), you MUST pick up this album.

    Posted on November 14, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now