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Living Colour and Glam

Posted on Sunday, April 3, 2011 at 12:01AM by Registered CommenterAllyson B. Crawford | Comments11 Comments
Was Living Colour ever considered Glam?


The band formed in 1984 and are certainly funk but they also have a definite metal side. I would think that being in the hard rock/metal genre during the 80s would mean that Glam rubbed off on them at least a little. The band also played with Guns n' Roses (among others)...and if you'll recall, even did Rocklahoma a couple years ago. So, did Living Colour ever get lumped in with the Glam scene? I'm looking for people older than me to answer this one. All I remember was the video for “Cult of Personality” played constantly right alongside all our other faves. Something to consider this early Spring Sunday.


Reader Comments (11)

In my opinion, Living Colour's music was anything but glam but they didn't shy away from the spandex and body glove suits. It was mainly the result of being popular and MTV trying to "categorize" them. Vernon Reid was well known in the NYC Jazz/Avant Garde circle and their influence were unlike most glam bands (punk, hardcore, funk, jazz). They definitely crossed boundaries of race and topics of unheard in glam music at the time.
April 3, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphatemon
Definatly not glam but a great band without exact definition and that's special in the wide world of music. I got the pleasure of meeting with Vernon and one other band member, whose name escapes me, while at Rocklahoma 2008 and they were two of the nicest guys I've ever met.
April 3, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterreptileblvd
Glam or not they are a really good band . And they do have a song called glamor boys. I like em
April 3, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertommydahl
@phatemon - I completely agree with the statement that MTV tried to categorize them as glam. They were anything but glam except in style of dress (some what)

@Tommydahl- Glamour Boys is a song making fun of white boys dressing all glam and trying to get girls. It is a direct shot at everything glam.

Great band tho - Will Calhoun is one of the better drummers to come out the era.
April 3, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterspence
Their first album fit into the hard rock/pop metal mainstream fairly well, whatever avant/jazz inclinations Vernon Reid may have had. "Cult of Personality" was a mainstay on MTV, and "Open Letter to a Landlord", while hardly standard power ballad fare, certainly fit the bill on their first album.

"Glam" is an odd word in this context -- it implies a lot more makeup and, for lack of a better term, pomp and circumstance than Living Colour generally sported. But then a lot of other bands we're lumping under the "Glam" banner were really just straightforward hard rock acts that either did (i.e. Cinderella) or didn't (i.e. Tesla) take on the superficial trappings of glam as well.

Living Colour fits too nicely into an 80's/early 90's pop metal playlist not to be considered "glam" by this definition.
April 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterM.
Living Colour is one of my favorite bands from that era, so I was happy to see this subject at BBG today.

They definitely wore their hard rock/metal/jazz influences on their sleeve, and they were a lot more interesting to me lyrically than the typical "...baby I love you, let's go out to the club and then back to my place" etc. heavy rock bands of that era. They were (incorrectly) pushed as glam, and the colorful art-deco outfits in the early videos certainly didn't dissuade non-fans from thinking they might be associated with all things glam. But I don't believe that they were. I saw them as more of a straight-up heavy rock band, and a talented one to be sure. Most people know the hits, but check out This is the Life, Time's Up (nearly borderline thrash!), Pride, Desperate People, New Jack Theme, and Wall. All incredible songs, and all worth your time. Corey Glover has an amazing voice, and the musicianship is top notch.

I've had the pleasure of seeing them live several times, including Roklahoma '08. If they come to your town, check them out - you won't be disappointed!
April 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGator
They were definitely lumped in with the hair metal scene in the 80's. Whether that was correct or not is up for debate. But in my mind, there are loads of bands that were pushed as glam that aren't necessarily "glam". So if straight-ahead blues-rock bands like Tesla or Whitesnake are lumped in with glam then I don't see why Living Color doesn't belong there as well.

That would make a great debate sometime, actually.

"Glam" to me encompasses the whole package -- sound, look & attitude. Bands like Motley, Poison, Bon Jovi & Def Leppard are the definitive glam bands, while a lot of others just went along for the ride because big-hair meant MTV airplay & big money.
April 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBryon
I remember first hearing Living colour on the Princeton University radio station. I had to go to a high-end record store just to find the album at that point. They wouldn't become mainstream for at least another six months when MTV got a hold of them.

I hate to get all Bill clinton here, but whether or not you think Living colour is glam depends on what your definition of glam is. for me, to be glam, a band has to be trying to be glam. Thus, i don't consider Tesla to be glam just because MTV and rock radio tried to paint them into that corner. similarly, Living colour was certainly not trying to be glam so I don't consider them to be such.

The problem is that the music industry likes to wrap each artist into a neat little package that they can market to death. Living Colour fell victim to that strategy, hence the reason why we're even having this discussion.
April 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBob
They were played along side the glam/hair/metal bands of the day (esp. the first album), and featured in the same magazines, but I don't remember them ever being considered "glam".

Great band, "Stain" is my favorite album from them.
April 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJack
Not my cup of tea, however...

Mainly cuz I personally don't like mixing Funk with my Metal, no matter who's tried it from the Electric Boys to Mr. Bungle and a few others I'm too lazy to look thru my boxes to locate.

That said, I did have the pleasure of catching Vernon Reid playing precisely what Phatemon describes as Jazz/Avante Garde but totally Metalized at one of the coolest shows I've ever seen...

It was during the JVC Jazz Festival in the mid 80's. Reid played a gig celebrating the music of 70's Blaxploitation Films (i.e. "Shaft", "Foxy Brown", "Superfly") with Ronald Jackson's Decoding Society and other members of The Black Rock Coalition just before he formed Living Colour.

The gig was the coolest idea. They played the soundtrack music to various scenes from their favorite Blaxploitation films as those scenes were projected behind them above the stage.

They totally cranked it, particularly Reid, into the wildest acid fueled, crazed Metalized Funk Jazz unlike anything I had ever heard in my life! The bassist, whose name I can't place, was also an absolute monster!

Reid had neon colored rubber bands and string braided through short dreadlocks and wore a white Hendrix Strat with white painter's overalls to match.

Definitely, one of the most amazing things I have ever heard, and seen, in my life!

I was so glad my friend told me about it and bugged me to go with him. I remember tellin' him how insane I thought the guitarist was. I mean, the guy sounded like Hendrix meets Zappa meets Bootsie Collins! I knew it was something I would never forget!

Cut to 1988 and, lo and behold, up pops Vernon Reid on MTV, lookin' the same as when I saw him at that Blaxploitation gig a few years back. I was happy to see he made the bigtime, as he is such an undeniable talent.

I always thought "Cult Of Personality", which did intrigue me, unlike a lot of the Funk Metal to come, as it sounded like a funked up outtake from Led Zeppelin's Presence album until Glover opened his mouth.

Hate to say it, but from that point on, I stopped listening.
April 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
Love Living Color and as someone who was around as a teenager during the Sunset Strip glam scene I can say honestly...no. They were not considered glam buy anyone in my circle. They were very popular though; deservedly so.
April 9, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteri'mtheone

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