Living Colour
Time's Up


4.0
excellent

Review

by Davey Boy STAFF
January 27th, 2009 | 47 replies


Release Date: 1990 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Divisive due to its ambition & want to challenge listeners over such a lengthy period, ‘Times Up’ is still excellent on the back of at least half a dozen quality tracks and the sheer talent & diversity of the 4 musicians.

One of the major strengths of Living Colour’s classic debut album ‘Vivid’ was the ability of the band to show their talent no matter which musical genre a particular song belonged to. If the opening title track of follow-up release ‘Times Up’ is anything to go by, the ambition of the NYC quartet is even greater here. A frenetic hotch-potch from the very beginning, the cut owes more to thrash-metal than anything else! It is a seriously arresting shock to the system which will leave many listeners gasping for breath. When it is followed by a strange one minute interlude, many will wonder if Living Colour has totally lost the plot.

Thankfully, things relatively settle down following the whirlwind of a beginning, with the conventionally structured 5th and final single ‘Pride’ placed next in the track order. Kicking off with one of Vernon Reid’s distinctively thick riffs, Corey Glover imposes his passionate vocals on proceedings as he takes a shot at the history taught in American schools; “It’s up to you to seek the truth, to know your history, the difference between me and you. Relate to me as me, not what you see on T.V”. The cut is then nicely topped off with a killer Reid solo.

However, ‘Pride’ is beaten for album highlight status by the following ‘Love Rears Its Ugly Head’. The most well-known of the bands songs outside of America having reached top 20 in both the U.K and Australia, it appears in 2 separate – if rather similar versions - here. This methodically paced soulful cut best exhibits Glover’s maturity as a vocalist, with his control, range and power being exemplary, while the musicians once again prove their ability to do what is required for the betterment of the individual track.

In truth, ‘Times Up’ is definitely not devoid of a batch of very good songs. In addition to the aforementioned highlights, penultimate track ‘Solace Of You’ uses its African rhythms to near-perfection, while six minute pseudo-closer ‘This Is The Life’ takes its simple Jekyll & Hyde lyrical idea and matches it with alternating moody and optimistic music. Meanwhile, the take on modern society that is ‘Type’, is also very solid and above-average, even if it was an interesting choice to be the LPs lead single.

Apart from the touches of humor on ‘…Ugly Head’, this is a rather serious and dark album. That is probably why a song such as ‘Elvis Is Dead’ is so effective here. Lightening the mood, Glover & Co take a semi-humorous approach in communicating their distaste on the monotonous Elvis sighting rumors used to make money and how some fans still idolize The King decades after his death. A fantastic breakdown containing a cameo by Little Richard is the real clincher of this attention-seeking single. In fact, cameos are something Living Colour use well as Queen Latifah provides a quality verse to the slinky sexual ballad that is ‘Under Cover Of Darkness’, while Doug E. Fresh contributes to interlude ‘Tag Team Partners’.

So with all these positives, where is ‘Times Up’ a let-down? Well, to cut to the chase, it is simply too over-long. While this may not bother some people, the album is such a challenging listen that it tends to come off as overbearing. As much as the album flows rather well, since back-to-back tracks will often have either assisting or contrasting lyrical content, it does result in the perception of too much redundant filler. Arguably falling under this umbrella are the druglord anthem ‘New Jack Theme’, the anti-authority ‘Someone Like You’, the technophobic ‘Information Overload’ and the call for unity that is ‘Fight The Fight’.

Most of the tracks just mentioned are decent in isolation, but because they are part of a 72 minute package (including the 3 bonus tracks), they come off as practically unnecessary. Still, even these tracks will include glimpses of lyrical brilliance such as “I make more money than a judge or a cop, give me a reason why I should stop” on ‘New Jack Theme’, and ‘Policeman are you happy? You snuffed a medical student out. Maybe he could have changed the world. I guess we’ll never find out” off of ‘Someone Like You’.

As alluded to, pretty much every pressing of ‘Times Up’ will include three bonus tracks, the last of which is the AKA Soul Power Mix of ‘Love Rears Its Ugly Head’. Prior to that, two live tracks prove how dynamic Living Colour is on stage. The first of the duo is an interesting cover of experimental rock band Pere Ubu’s ‘Final Solution’, while Vivid single ‘Middle Man’ is also included. Both recordings show the absolute brilliance of axe-man Reid, whether it’s the alarming shrill of the former, or the crunching riff of the latter.

For both casual fans and loyalists, ‘Times Up’ is likely to be a divisive release due to its ambition and want to challenge listeners over such a lengthy period of time. While there is more than a sufficient amount of the band’s trademark variety, there is little compromise shown here, with Living Colour striving to achieve their objectives and not allowing a number of accessibility characteristics get in their way. ‘Times Up’ is still an excellent release however, worthy of its 1991 Grammy Award for ‘Best Hard Rock Performance’, on the back of at least half a dozen quality tracks and the sheer talent and diversity of the four musicians.

Recommended Tracks: Love Rears Its Ugly Head, Pride, Elvis Is Dead & This Is The Life.



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user ratings (61)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
rasputin
January 28th 2009


14544 Comments


Just to let you know, I've started a Contributors' thread in the community forums, it would be great if you would participate, seeing as there aren't very many of us.

http://www.sputnikmusic.com/forums/showthread.php?t=571122

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
January 28th 2009


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It wouldn't at all surprise me if some people preferred this over 'Vivid' (mainly due to 'Love Rears Its Ugly Head', 'Solace Of You' & 'Elvis Is Dead'), but boy is it a challenging listen.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
January 28th 2009


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, gave it a quick look before Rasputin. I'll be in there some time tomorrow when I have a little more free time.

rasputin
January 28th 2009


14544 Comments


No worries, I'm just trying to get the word out. Congratulations on passing 100, by the way.

Bsmith7
January 28th 2009


252 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

These guys really are talented. Time's Up is my favorite track on here.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
January 28th 2009


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

No probs Rasputin.

Thanks on the congrats... I don't think I'll be catching up to you any time soon though. If anything, I'll be slowing down my reviewing (Davey looks around wondering where those background cheers came from)This Message Edited On 01.27.09

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
January 28th 2009


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"Talented" is an under-statement Ben. Bit of a low rating you have there for this album.
As for the opening title track, I don't think I've ever taken it in properly to this very day. It's so abrupt & takes me by surprise every darn time I listen to it.

Bsmith7
January 28th 2009


252 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah it's on the verge of a 3.5 but I just don't really care for the last half. I haven't listened to this in forever though. Oh, and the title track has a ridiculous bass part.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
January 28th 2009


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Muzz Skillings is a beast on the bass... His replacement wasn't half bad either, but nowhere near as good as Muzz, who is very under-rated (just like the group as a whole).

Douchebag
January 28th 2009


3624 Comments


Just heard the opening track. Very odd indeed. I still need to check out vivid so yeah...

Bsmith7
January 28th 2009


252 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah he is. I'm going to listen to this again soon. I've been inspired.

Jim
January 28th 2009


5110 Comments


you know what's strange?
these guys are from NY yet they spell colour with an "ou"
SOMEONE EXPLAIN THIS MADNESS

Vooligan
January 28th 2009


3541 Comments


yay for Aussieness then.

Fugue
January 28th 2009


7353 Comments


Madness?

THIS IS LIVING COLOUR

and seriously colour looks friggin weird without the 'u'

Good review Davey, I'll probably check this out after liking vivid so much.

gaslightanthem
January 28th 2009


5209 Comments


good review as per usual right here

Douchebag
January 28th 2009


3624 Comments


lol complete madness! Color!? Colour!?!? New york!!!? GOING CRAZY!

Spamue1G
January 28th 2009


1292 Comments


I listened to the first song on Vivid, but it didn't catch my interest really. I'll have a few more listens but my ever-growing to-get list makes it unlikely that'll I'll really give these guys much of a chance.
I'm sort you don't need me to say 'good review' again, but it's too late now

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
January 28th 2009


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

My computer wouldn't switch on last night (nor my pay tv)... Too freakin' hot!
Croc, for fk sake, chuck a sickie this arvo! And yes, "odd" is a good word for the opener here.
Yeah, I've always wondered about the "coloUr" spelling. I remember with the Foo Fighters & their 'Colour & The Shape' album, they said it was spelt like that because (I think) the producer of the album was English. Maybe it was simply a way to be more marketable worldwide. Maybe it was because Vernon Reid was born in England. Maybe they respect the Queen... Who knows!
Thanks Kane.
Spamue1, you're temporarily suspended. Not liking 'Cult of Personality' is a bannable offence! ;-)

Fugue
January 28th 2009


7353 Comments


How do you spell colour/color in Australia?

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
January 28th 2009


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

We are your convicts remember Ross. Of course we include the 'U'.
And trust me mate, you do not want to be in this heat right now. Just ask your neighbour Andy Murray... He knew when to throw in the towel.



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