Monday, September 27, 2010


  Note: Here at the DRB, we value the time and effort musicians place in crafting their art. When we review an album, rest assured, it was played in our vehicles, homes, offices, and on the road. Music needs time to grow in your soul, so we give songs plenty of listens to allow the musicianship and lyrics to sink in. If we write a review, the album means something to us, and we take the time to create an articulate and careful summary of the finished product. Thanks for reading! -ed.

"Now that I'm grown, I don't fear the unknown ."
-Young Man

  Yes, the Grammy-winning artists who brought you 'Cult of Personality' two decades ago (Yikes! That was 1988!!) dropped this sadly overlooked album for Megaforce records in September of last year. If you're wondering, with a reputation for funking up hard rock, if Living Colour is 'heavy' enough for a label boasting the likes of Anthrax and Bad Brains, well, you're not alone. And, it's likely this perception motivated Corey Glover and company to tune down the politics, and turn up the volume an extra notch on standout tracks like 'Burning Bridges' and 'Out of My Mind'. They haven't completely abandoned funk as evidenced on the groove in the stellar 'Bless Those (Little Annie's Prayer)' a track originally recorded by Little Annie Bandez back in 1992.
  This release definitely slipped through the cracks. Another casualty of a recording industry attempting to adapt in the days of digital download, while fine-tuning their marketing to properly showcase unique bands. That being said, while still a powerful album, 'The Chair In The Doorway' does suffer from a common flaw: Melody. One of the biggest arguments we have at DRB is concerning the relevence of melody. No, not your ex-girlfriend from college, but what Webster's dictionary defines as 'a sweet or agreeable succession or arrangement of sounds'. Song melody, normally one of Living Colour's strongest creative attributes within their music, appears infrequently here. But, don't let that minor qualm dissuade you. Though there's no obvious singles ('Behind The Sun' probably coming in the closest) there is creative, explosive rock here, worthy of repeated listens. And, it's obvious Living Colour are attempting to tread the timeless, narrow ground of pleasing a new generation of fans, while not alienating the die hards waiting with baited breath for Funny Vibe, part II. 'Hard Times' emraces the angry young man feel of earlier LC albums, with it's Glover growling the piercing, structured lyrics. But when Reid announces his presence with a hellish solo, he elevates the track to a more modern, raw performace. 'That's What You Taught Me' significantly bridges the gap between the 'Elvis is Dead' era and the Living Colour of 2010. But, again, this is the meaner, leaner, version, and they aren't concerned with radio. While Burning Bridges has a strong chorus, driving drum and bass line, I found 'Method' to be a personal favorite, dark and ominous with guitarist Vernon Reid slinking in at just the right moment for the supernova solo. Overall, Glover's voice has never sounded better, actually improving with age. Bassist Doug Wimbish and percussionist Will Calhoun are given ample space to display their acclaimed skills throughout the album, but it's the track 'Decadance' that truly allows these musicians to shine. Virtuoso Reid is his reliable, professional self on each track, though, surpisingly for me, a bit subdued on some.
  This is a grittier, more worldly, more experienced Living Colour whose lyrics have taken a step back from politically and socially motivated anthems of the Ed Stasium/Mick Jagger production era. But, they're also taking more chances here, adding weight to the sound, and the end result is a diverse, less rock, more metal album, that retains some touches of electric funk.
  Do yourself a favor and check this one out, if you haven't before. If you already own it and relegated it to the 'once in a while' section of the CD rack, give it another spin. Move it to the heavy rotation on your Itunes, whatever, just give it another listen.
This one's quality.


for DRB

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