Living Colour
Collideoscope


3.0
good

Review

by Davey Boy STAFF
March 4th, 2009 | 38 replies


Release Date: 2003 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Living Colour returns after a decade on hiatus and while they do enough to prove they are not a spent force just yet, this comeback LP is overlong and contains way too much filler on its 2nd half.

Having disbanded in 1995 citing “differences of opinion regarding musical direction”, NYC quartet Living Colour surprised fans by playing an impromptu gig in late 2000. Eventually reforming, they released their 4th full-length album ‘Collideoscope’ in 2003… More than a decade after previous release ‘Stain’! In essence, the new album was an attempt to be a compromise between the heavier & angrier ‘Stain’ and the overlong genre-fusing 2nd release ‘Times Up’. On paper, that seemed a logical approach, however it is not always an easy task to put into action... Especially when 10 years have passed.

Thankfully, early signs are promising for the most part. Lead single ‘Song Without Sin’ opens proceedings with a distinctively thick guitar riff courtesy of guitar maestro Vernon Reid. Meanwhile, the following track ‘A Question Of When’ adds some effective sampled sounds and Corey Glover’s insistently desperate and questioning vocals to the equation.

One thing which time had definitely not restrained was Living Colour’s politically and socially-conscious heavy lyrics as they are still a major component of the band on ‘Collideoscope’. ‘Operation Mind Control’ sees the main tag-line of “It’s operation mind-control, it’s the battle for America’s soul”, while on the electro-dub piece ‘In Your Name’, Glover belts out lines such as “we are hurting you to heal you and we’re doing it in your name”.

However, adding an extra bow to their lyrical arsenal was the September-11 terrorist attacks which occurred while the band was in the early stages of putting this album together. This is best highlighted on standout track ‘Flying’, which is a ballad detailing office workers caught in the World Trade Center buildings at the time of the tragedy. Beginning with “I jumped out of the window to get to the parking lot, I’m writing this little song on my way down”, Glover later adds “I was gathering up my nerve to ask out Carmen… Now we’re holding hands, not just the way I planned”. While very serious, the cut has that same quirky outlook which made ‘Love Rears Its Ugly Head’ so successful previously.

Unfortunately, the final two-thirds of ‘Collideoscope’ suggests that time may have passed Living Colour by a little. There are still some above-average moments; the Caribbean reggae-like vibe of ‘Nightmare City’, the involving narrative of ‘Lost Halo’, and ‘Holy Roller’ where Glover is at his soulful best. Elsewhere however, either shortcuts are taken or the results are mediocre at best.

Familiarity is one technique unsuccessfully used to stem the tide, with covers of AC/DC’s ‘Back In Black’ and The Beatles’ ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’. The former includes nauseating screeching vocals from Glover, while the latter is just plain boring. A solid-re-recording of ‘Sacred Ground’ is also included after being used on a mid-90’s ‘Best Of’ compilation titled ‘Pride’. Arguably the most puzzling track here however is ‘Choices Mash Up, Happy Shopper’ which is an experimental mess where the band quite possibly attempt to include moments of every genre imaginable.

Similarly to ‘Times Up’, there is the additional weakness of Collideoscope being overlong at 60 minutes and containing way too much filler. You could quite easily whittle this LP down to 11 tracks & 45 minutes, which would result in a nice overall package… Especially considering that this is a comeback album. However, as the album approaches its climax, it is quite the chore to listen to and a little sleep-inducing in all honesty. Thankfully, there is sufficient quality during the first half to suggest that Living Colour is not a spent force just yet, and ‘Collideoscope’ is still worth a listen.

Recommended Tracks: Flying, A Question Of When & Holy Roller.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
March 4th 2009


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

ATTENTION: MODS - I need this review to be merged with the existing ratings & album art already in the database. It seems that the '?' in the album title has thrown it out.

Also, the actual name of the album is 'Collideoscope', so if that could also be changed, it would be appreciated.

Jim
March 4th 2009


5110 Comments


hey good one mang. didn't know they had such recent release/s
the lyrics to "flying" are a little tearjerking :'(

Douchebag
March 4th 2009


3624 Comments


Awesome. I STILL need to check out Vivid...

Plus I should do my usual routine of "I have a new review up! Better check it out!"


MassiveAttack
March 4th 2009


2688 Comments


yea it'll be awhile until I check them out, but I still remember that huge hit they had (listened to a clip of it) and absolutely loved it.

Vooligan
March 4th 2009


3541 Comments


still pumping out reviews davey, another great one. Ive had a listen to a fair few of Living Colour's stuff and come to the conclusion that its not really for me.

Fugue
March 4th 2009


7353 Comments


Nice review my man, good to see your still churning them out regardless of any lingering site issues that may be present. By the sounds of it this album doesn't sound to great, shame, I guess nothing they ever did is up there with Cult of Personality.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
March 4th 2009


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks Jim. Yeah, I recall even myself not knowing this came out back in '03. They are supposed to be recording a new album as we speak, but it has been happening for a while now, so who knows. As for the lyrics for 'Flying' they are definitely startling & affecting.

Yeah, I copied & pasted your review to read yesterday Croc, but still haven't got around to it. I'll get there mate. Every time I see a cat, I will be reminded of it!

Marko, they have technically had 2 big hits (dependant on where you reside I guess); 'Cult of Personality' off of their debut & 'Love Rears Its Ugly Head' off of the follow-up. I'm actually a little curious as to which one you mean...

Yep, still pumping the reviews out Billy. Although, as strange as it sounds, I need to get writing again since I have no reviews in reserve at this very moment. I blame the SoundWave Festival (quick plug for the list & journal I made regarding said festival).

Thanks Ross. Always remember that 'Cult Of Personality' is "decent". Haha. Seriously, I guess some would suggest the slower more soulful 'Love Rears Its Ugly Head' was almost as good.

Spamue1G
March 4th 2009


1292 Comments


Having got hold of Vivid, I'm now definitely curious about the rest of their discography. Problem is, the one song I heard off Stain I just really didn't like for some reason, although the first track on Time's Up was pretty attention-grabbing. I was wondering whether this might be a better option than Stain, but it looks like I won't be able to rely on your reviews for once... I'll be listening to BOTH all the way through soon enough.
I like seeing criticism in your reviews, I think you do it just a bit better than you do praise. Good stuff as always

MassiveAttack
March 4th 2009


2688 Comments


Well I'm exactly sure since I only caught part of it as a music video . So I really wouldn't know.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
March 4th 2009


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Interesting comments Spamue1. As per my album ratings, I prefer 'Times Up' over 'Stain' myself. If it wasn't so overlong, I may have even considered 'Times Up' as a 4.5. Since it is also a chronological fit, I'd listen to all of that before 'Stain', especially if you liked 'Vivid'.

I guess "criticism" is always more interesting to read than "praise", but I will definitely take that feedback on board. My objectivity % on this website has dropped from 90 to 86 of late, meaning I have been reviewing/rating more favorable albums of late. I will have to change that some time shortly & should be able to since I am currently listening to 2 albums that aren't great!

If it all helps Marko, the 2 songs I mentioned have rather distinctively different videos. 'Cult...' has the lead singer jumping around on stage in a bright lycra jumpsuit (not a great look), while '... Ugly Head' has him in a tuxedo getting married.

Fugue
March 4th 2009


7353 Comments


Cult of Personality only decent, who was it who said that again?

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
March 4th 2009


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Hmm, who indeed!? Can't recall, but there's an old-fashioned lynching party awaiting said party! ;-)

MassiveAttack
March 4th 2009


2688 Comments


hey I got an answer for you with Portishead. As widely acclaimed as Dummy is I enjoy Third more. 3.5 for Dummy / 4.5 for Third.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
March 5th 2009


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Nice & clear on the album ratings Marko. Does that mean 'Third' is any more accessible than 'Dummy'?

MassiveAttack
March 5th 2009


2688 Comments


Compare these two songs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yF-GvT8Clnk (Glory Box from Dummy).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCmB1oSueIo (Silence from Third).

I think this would be the best barometer for your decision.

Third adds more ambience and longer electronic sequences throughout than Dummy which is why I enjoyed it more.This Message Edited On 03.04.09

kygermo
March 5th 2009


996 Comments


What the Hell does Portishead have to do with Living Colour? And you must be tone-deaf if you think Third outshines Dummy.

MassiveAttack
March 5th 2009


2688 Comments


Didn't know your opinion ruled all, but w/e. Whoa, I didn't know that Living Colour and Portishead have nothing to do with each other. Thanks.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
March 5th 2009


7363 Comments


Good review again, but I think I'll listen to the first Living Colour album you did before I hear this.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
March 5th 2009


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks Marko. I will compare those 2 songs when I get a chance. Ambience & longer electronic sequences aren't necessarily my thing but they can definitely be a positive when used correctly.

I wonder if Portishead could use a killer Vernon Reid guitar solo on any of their tracks!

'Vivid' is definitely the place to start with Living Colour Ali.

gaslightanthem
March 5th 2009


5209 Comments


portishead rule

good review



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