Living Colour
Stain


3.5
great

Review

by Davey Boy STAFF
March 2nd, 2009 | 67 replies | 8,991 views


Release Date: 1993 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An initially jolting change of musical direction still results in yet another solid and very good album, even if it is not as outstanding as either of the band’s previous 2 LPs.

Considering the quantity of tracks included on Living Colour’s 2nd album ‘Times Up’ and a few more out-takes being placed on the band’s ‘Biscuits’ E.P, the writing was on the wall that the NYC quartet would be changing musical direction to some degree next time around. However, in a move which initially surprised – yet retrospectively should not have – the directional change was not towards the more lucrative mainstream side of their funk/hard-rock fusion, but to an even heavier, angrier and less accessible sound on their 3rd full-length release ‘Stain’.

As with previous albums, Living Colour does not hold back on exhibiting their social conscience through their lyrics. Nor do they cease their want for thematical track groupings, as can be see in the titles of 4 of the opening 5 songs; ‘Go Away’, ‘Ignorance Is Bliss’, ‘Leave It Alone’ and ‘Mind Your Own Business’. One sequence of lyrics from the opening ‘Go Away’ pretty much sums up the grouping: “I see the starving Africans on TV. I feel it has nothing to do with me. I send my $20 to Live Aid. I paid my guilty conscience to go away”. Unfortunately, sometimes it is taken too far and comes off too pessimistically: “I don’t want anybody to touch me. I think that everybody has AIDS. What’s the point of caring for you? You’re gonna die anyway”.

There are still some rather accessible moments to be had on ‘Stain’, as lead single (Grammy Award nominated) ‘Leave It Alone’ proves. A rather immediate cut which still showcases the band’s all-around talent, it isn’t anything too extraordinary and comes off as the kind of straight-forward track they can pull off in their sleep. The quirky ‘Bi’ which follows is a poppier, semi-humorous and half-decent take on bisexuality where lead vocalist Corey Glover belts out “Everybody wants you when you’re Bi”. How it was included in amongst the opening quintet of tracks however, is anyone’s guess.

If some listeners are concerned with the insistent nature of the LP’s beginning, they will be pleased to hear that the latter half of ‘Stain’ is a much more diverse and experimental group of songs. One new direction which Living Colour dabble in on a couple of the tracks is the industrial genre. Released single ‘Auslander’ is one such example and while it is initially off-putting, it eventually proves itself to be one the album’s stronger cuts. Glover’s vocals are especially effective here in amongst the assorted background music and sounds.

One factor to be noted with regards to ‘Stain’ is that it is the first time in which Living Colour dealt with a personnel change. Outstanding bassist Muzz Skillings had left and was replaced by Doug Wimbish. To be honest, it tells as Wimbish’s bass is far less prominent here than on previous releases. Ironically, the one track in which his work does get to shine is on album highlight ‘Nothingness’. The slowest cut on ‘Stain’, it is a successfully moody piece which perfectly conveys isolation and loneliness, even if the chirping crickets in the background get a little annoying after a while.

Of course, arguably Living Colour’s most synonymous trademark is Vernon Reid’s spectacular wailing guitars. His work is definitely as ever-present as always here, but you uncharacteristically often have to listen out for it as compared to when it jumped out and demanded attention on previous releases. Take for example the main riff and solo from track 7 ‘Never Satisfied’. A duo of tracks where Reid does hit pay-dirt though is the super angry tandem of ‘Postman’ and ‘This Little Pig’. The menacing riff on the former matches the frightening (whispered & intense) vocals of the serial-killer portraying Glover, while the rampaging musically-schizophrenic indictment of power-abusing police that is the latter hits home hard.

In a fashion, Reid’s guitar-work makes for a telling analogy for ‘Stain’ as a whole. Once the aforementioned change of musical direction is grown accustomed to, Living Colour’s 3rd full-length release is yet another solid and very good album. However, it is not as outstanding as either ‘Vivid’ or ‘Times Up’, with pretty much all components of the band being downgraded in comparison. Of course, this is the talented Living Colour we are referring to here, meaning ‘Stain’ is still very much a worthwhile listen.

Recommended Tracks: Nothingness, Leave It Alone, Auslander & This Little Pig.



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user ratings (49)
Chart.
3.7
great
other reviews of this album
Benjamin Laslow (4.5)
The third album of Living Colour, released in 1993, was an angry and hard rocking take on the Americ...


Comments:Add a Comment 
bastard
February 26th 2009



3435 Comments


nothin's gonna live up to Vivid, is it?

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
February 26th 2009



20856 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It should also be noted that Living Colour disbanded not long after the release of this album.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
February 26th 2009



20856 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

No Maxy Boy, definitely nothing that Living Colour released after 'Vivid' would live up to this band's debut.

Jim
February 26th 2009



5110 Comments


so then what's after living colour, davey?

Willie
Moderator
February 26th 2009



15912 Comments


Nice review. I can't remember if I've ever heard this, but I want to now. I think I'd probably enjoy it more than you. I like angry, pessimistic and industrial.

Digging: Nero Di Marte - Derivae

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
February 26th 2009



20856 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

To be honest Jim, I don't know. All I've been listening to over the past week or so is albums by SoundWave festival bands, so I may review something from that batch (say Billy Talent, Emery or Alkaline Trio). But I definitely haven't written anything that is ready, or even wanted to.
Trey, I definitely recommend this album for you. It's not Industrial as such, but there is enough of it (& the anger) that should be right up your alley. Hell, you may even like this more than 'Vivid'!

klap
Staff Reviewer
February 26th 2009



10328 Comments


Billy Talent makes me want to shrivel up and waste away.

Digging: Literature - Chorus

Vooligan
February 26th 2009



3541 Comments


Davey, you're a reviewing machine. Another good one.
I listened to Cult of Personality the other day, i actually had heard it before but didnt know that was the song. Its cool lol, not really my thing though.
Bet your pumped for Soundwave!

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
February 26th 2009



20856 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Rudy, I can't tell you how much I was turned off by Billy Talent upon first listen of them. But once you get used to the budgie voice, man they have hooks galore.
Billy, I think a lot of people may have heard 'Cult of Personality' & had no idea who sung it. As for Soundwave, I'm pumped up big time, BUT it won't exactly be the perfect day for it. We're all gonna get roasted!

Douchebag
February 26th 2009



3624 Comments


I think we all agree his next review should be Hysteria...

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
February 26th 2009



20856 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Hahaha... I'm not so certain everyone agrees with that Croc. But yeah, as you (& others) will know, I also have a review of 'Hysteria' pre-written (although I don't think I will ever be fully pleased with it) and that is my last resort if I have not yet written another review come say next weekend.

gaslightanthem
February 26th 2009



5209 Comments


Good review Davey, I keep missing all these somehow. Ah well pos'd. Still don't have much to say about these guys but I'm not gonna lie I loved Billy Talent first time I heard them because they are so catchy. It was on the second & third listens they just really began to bore me .

Douchebag
February 26th 2009



3624 Comments


Hurrah. I still don't know what my next one will be...

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
February 26th 2009



20856 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

As long as you eventually find the reviews Kane, all is good. That's really weird regarding your thoughts on Billy Talent. I'd almost say that I was the complete opposite. Anyway, it will be interesting to see what I think of them live tomorrow, as they are supposed to put on a pretty good show.
As for your next review Croc, I'm obviously going to suggest some classic hard-rock from the 80s. How about some Guns 'N' Roses, Motley Crue or even some "Cherry Pie"!?!?!?

Fugue
February 26th 2009



7352 Comments


Good review Davey, you should review Billy Talent next, I loved them from the off and their stage presence is awesome.
Alligator, if you love Hysteria why don't you review it, might be some time before Davey submits his version.

gaslightanthem
February 26th 2009



5209 Comments


Ya, I can imagine they'd be fun live to sing along too and stuff.

Fugue
February 26th 2009



7352 Comments


At the time it was the best concert I had ever been to.

gaslightanthem
February 26th 2009



5209 Comments


What managed to better it?

Fugue
February 26th 2009



7352 Comments


Metallica at Wembley stadium was probably the best concert I've been to, and I'd say when I saw Turisas it was better as well.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
February 26th 2009



7326 Comments


I've never actually listened to this band, but I'll definitely check them out, cos it sounds like I'll like them. I love all of the recommended albums (except Living Colour of course). Good review was good of course.



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