Review Summary: 2 out-takes, 4 covers & 2 live recordings; yet only 6 tracks. However it adds up, this EP is predominantly for the fans.
Instead of the oddly titled ‘Biscuits’, ‘2 + 4 + 2 = 6’ probably would have been a better moniker for this EP, the 3rd release from NYC funk-metal quartet Living Colour. Strangely released while singles from previous LP ‘Times Up’ were still receiving airplay, it is simply structured to contain two live recordings, two out-takes and two cover versions of songs performed by well-known artists.
Kicking things off is the band’s above-average reworking of James Brown’s ‘Talkin Loud and Sayin Nothing’. Coming complete with turntable scratches, saxophone and Vernon Reid’s trademark guitar-work, the track flows well and holds interest throughout. More disappointing however, is the later take on Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Burning of the Midnight Lamp’. Was it the weight of expectation and comparisons that weighed Reid & Co down here, or is it simply a dull and dreary choice to have made? Surely something more challenging could have been attempted.
Of the 2 out-takes, one can easily see the reason why they did not make the cut for ‘Times Up’. The soulful, almost bluesy, rendering of Al Green’s ‘Love and Happiness’ begins very well, but leads nowhere as soon as the volume is turned up on the instruments. Similarly, EP closer ‘Money Talks’ contains portions of a potentially exciting up-tempo cut that includes some of the band’s telling lyrical content. However, when an earlier than usual guitar solo morphs into an extended instrumental jam section, the track well and truly runs off the rails.
That aforementioned jam could very well have worked better in a live setting, where the group once more proves their proficiency here. Bravely, they have chosen two of (debut LP) Vivid’s lesser-known tracks to appear and it pays dividends handsomely as both improve on their recorded versions! ‘Desperate People’ is especially impressive with William Calhoun’s ferocious drumming and Corey Glover’s snarling vocals brilliantly emphasizing the theme of the piece. Meanwhile, Talking Heads’ ‘Memories Cant Wait’ is given further life with an exhilarating performance that contains some surprisingly effective backing vocals from Muzz Skillings.
With the two live cuts being the highlights of this release and Living Colour’s penchant of including live recordings elsewhere (‘Times Up’ and the later “Best Of” titled ‘Pride’), it simply would have been better had they released a live album which also included one or two of the covers included here. While being nowhere near a write-off and being good value for money at 30 minutes in length, ‘Biscuits’ simply doesn’t have anything approaching outstanding on its four studio recordings to warrant listening to over any of their full-length releases. For that reason, this EP is predominantly for the fans.
Recommended Tracks: Desperate People (Live), Memories Can’t Wait (Live) & Talkin’ Loud and Sayin’ Nothing.