Friday, March 06, 2009

Number 414 - Living Color


Number 414

Living Colour

"Cult Of Personality"

(1989)
.
.
413 .........Genre: Nu Rock........... 415
Probably one of the gretest songs of my generation ... So, before Jesus Jones, and before [maybe] Faith No More and even Red Hot Chili Peppers [who's sound wasn't defined really till 1991] there was this remarkable groundbreaking song "Cult Of Personality". With a mixture of Hard Rock, Metal, Funk and Nu Rock this song would lead us down a path for years to come with the likes of Linkin Park, Limp Bizkit, Blindspott, Trust Company, P.O.D and many others. Only difference is you would have to say Vernon Reid's guitaring is far superior, and, if you need proof, just try playing "Cult Of Personality" in expert mode on Guitar Hero III!
Ask not what your country can do for you ...
During the 1980s, rock had become completely segregated and predictable, the opposite of the late '60s/early '70s, when such musically and ethnically varied artists as Jimi Hendrix, Sly & the Family Stone, and Santana ruled the Earth. But bands such as New York's Living Colour helped break down the doors by the end of the '80s, leading to a much more open-minded musical landscape that would eventually pave the way for future bands (Rage Against the Machine, Sevendust, etc.). The group (singer Corey Glover, guitarist Vernon Reid, bassist Muzz Skillings, and drummer Will Calhoun) first formed in the mid-'80s, with Reid being the only member with real prior band experience; he was a member of Ronald Shannon Jackson's experimental jazz outfit, and had recorded with Defunkt, Public Enemy, as well as issuing a solo album with Bill Frisell, 1984's Smash & Scatteration.
Hear the venom
It took the fledgling band a few years for their sound to gel, as they honed their act at N.Y.C.'s famed CBGB's. But the group found an unlikely supporter in Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones, who took the band under his wing, produced a demo for the quartet, and helped them secure a record deal with Epic (just prior, Glover had to take a brief leave of absence from the band, as he landed a role in Oliver Stone's Vietnam War epic movie, Platoon). Living Colour's debut album, Vivid, was issued in the summer of 1988, yet it would take a few months for momentum to build. By the winter, the band's striking video for their anthem "Cult of Personality" was all over MTV, pushing Vivid to the upper reaches of the charts and to platinum certification. Living Colour also took home their first of several Grammy Awards, as "Cult" won Best Hard Rock Performance at the 1989 ceremony, and the band supported the release with a string of dates opening stadiums for the Rolling Stones' first U.S. tour in eight years that autumn.
Culted
Their darkest and most challenging release yet, Stain, was issued in 1993. Although it failed to sell as well as its predecessors, it retained the band's large and dedicated following, as Living Colour appeared to be entering an interesting and groundbreaking new musical phase of their career. The band began writing the following year for what would be their fourth full-length, but an inability to settle on a single musical direction caused friction between the members, leading to Living Colour's demise in early 1995.
An honest cult
In the wake of Living Colour's split, all of its former members pursued other projects. Reid issued a solo album, 1996's Mistaken Identity (as well as guesting on other artists recordings), while Glover attempted to launch a career as a solo artist, issuing the overlooked Hymns in 1998 and finding time to appear as a VJ on VH1 and acting in the 1996 movie Loose Women. Calhoun and Wimbish remained together and launched a new outfit, the drum'n'bass-inspired Jungle Funk, who issued a self-titled debut release in 1997 (Wimbish also issued a solo album, Trippy Notes for Bass, in 1999). With Living Colour out of commission for several years by the early 21st century, Calhoun and Wimbish teamed up once more with Glover in a new outfit, Headfake, playing often in the New York City area. A few days before Christmas in 2000, Headfake played a show at CBGB's, and were joined on-stage by Reid, which led to rumors of an impending Living Colour reunion. The rumors proved to be true, as Living Colour launched their first tour together in six years during the summer of 2001. In 2003, Living Colour returned with a deal with Sanctuary and their most experimental release to date, Collideøscope. Two years later the rarities collection What's Your Favorite Color? was released, followed by Everything Is Possible: The Very Best of Living Colour in 2006. ~ [Greg Prato, All Music Guide]
The Song ...
Malcom X
"Cult of Personality" is a song by the funk metal band Living Colour and the lead single from their debut album, Vivid. Its music video earned two MTV Video Music Awards for Best Group Video and Best New Artist. Released in 1989, "Cult of Personality" reached #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #9 on the Billboard Album Rock Tracks chart. It also won the Grammy award for "Best Hard Rock Performance" in 1989. The song was named the 69th best hard rock song of all time by VH1. The song begins with an edited quote from the beginning of a speech by Malcolm X. As it appears in the song, the quote is:
". . . And during the few moments that we have left, . . . We want to talk right down to earth in a language that everybody here can easily understand."
The unabridged beginning of the speech is: "...And during the few moments that we have left, we want to have just an off-the-cuff chat between you and me -- us. We want to talk right down to earth in a language that everybody here can easily understand."
JFK
At 4:35, John F. Kennedy is quoted, saying"Ask not what your country can do for you," and the song ends with Franklin D. Roosevelt saying "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."
"Cult of Personality" was performed live during the April 1, 1989 edition of Saturday Night Live with host Mel Gibson. It was also performed on The Arsenio Hall Show that same year. Current WWE wrestler, CM Punk used this as one of his entrance themes while wrestling for ROH.
In 2004, an edited version was featured in
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas soundtrack on Radio X.In 2007, Living Colour re-recorded the song for the video game Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, with the re-recorded guitar solos being higher in tempo than on the original recording.
The song was used on the January 12th 2009 episode of WWE Monday Night Raw as Stone Cold Steve Austin's Hall Of Fame Promo song. ~ [Source: Wikipedia]
For Jesus Jones see Number 638
For Faith No More see Number 780
For Red Hot Chili Peppers see Number 459 & #521
For Linkin Park visit MM Vol 1 #056
For Limp Bizkit visit MM Vol 1 #031
For Jimi Hendrix see Number 718
For Santana see Number 781
For Rage Against The Machine see Number 588
For Rolling Stones see Number 689 & #767
What does Rolling Stone think about Living Colour?
It was, in the beginning, music by and for blacks, documenting in the black vernacular the everyday agonies and ecstasies of black life. So why, nearly forty years on, is the idea of a black rock & roll band such an anomaly in pop's social order, not to mention unspeakable on AOR radio? At a time when Jesse Jackson is confronting America with the serious possibility of a black man in the White House,[fascinating] what's so improbable about a black rock band – fueled by racial pride yet preaching the unity gospel, equally inspired by Led Zeppelin and George Clinton – scoring in the white mainstream?
In its own way, Vivid is an open letter to rock & roll itself, a demand for equal time and respect from a music that is Living Colour's birthright. Vivid is too good to succeed in the white – or black – mainstream by virtue only of racial guilt, for kicking you at the base of your conscience. Vivid will not change the world single-handedly, but it's a timely reminder of why it's always worth trying. ~ [Source: RS 528 - 1988]
For Led zeppelin see Number 422, #577 & #957
Rolling Stone magazine deemed their '414th Song of all Time' was "Young Blood" by The Coasters. The Coasters has appeared in The Definitive 1000 @ #630
Other songs with reference to Living colour #506, #588
Rolling Stone Top 500 Songs ranked this song at Number (Ahhh, I think we forgot this song) and the Album ranked at Number (and er, the album too)
This song has a total Definitive rating of 78.2 out of 108
Search Artist here:1-2-3-A-B-C-D-E-F-G-H-I-J-K-L-M-N-O-P-Q-R-S-T-U-V-W-X-Y-Z

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