I happened to flip by one of VH-1’s many rock hit compilation shows recently, and there was Living Colour’s Vernon Reid, praising the hybrid, rap-rock-punk fusion of Faith No More, as particularly evidenced in their hit single “Epic.” The points he was making were not without merit, and yet it was slightly ironic, in that here was a true trailblazing pioneer lending praise to a group who owned a piece of the FM airwaves the year after his group’s debut release.
For their millions of fans around the world, of course, metal-funk rockers Living Colour need no introductions: Reid, Will Calhoun, Doug Wimbish and Corey Glover are among the leading New York musicians who helped break down the doors leading to a renewed musical landscape in the waning days of the 1980s, one the very few groups — if not the first and only — that can be talked about as authentic sons of Jimi Hendrix while all the while still retaining their own inimitable edge. All this and more is obvious in the intense 2007 concert that this disc captures, in which the swaggering masters of groove grind through tunes old and new.
Filmed in high definition at the New Morning Club in Paris, this mid-summer gig showcases a group a bit puffier in their faces, but no less accomplished on their instruments. Directed by Daniel Farhi, it’s a rollicking, well-staged show, full of nice close-ups (see Glover sweat it out!) and other smooth editorial choices. The concert kicks off with “Type,” the band’s highest charting single, before moving into “Middle Man” and “Funny Vibe,” and then seguing into “Song Without Sin,” “Nova” and “Sacred Ground.” The rest of the track listing features “Memories Can’t Wait,” “Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” “Glamour Boys,” a cover version of “Crosstown Traffic,” “Go Away,” “Either Way,” “Ignorance Is Bliss,” “Drum Solo,” “Flying” and “Love Rears Its Ugly Head” before the show closes, somewhat predictably, with a thrashing rendition of the Grammy Award-winning “Cult of Personality.” A bonafide treat for connoisseurs of the band who are aware of the fact that Living Colour’s groundbreaking music is at its most impressive when performed in the intimate heat of a small club, Living Colour: The Paris Concert also serves as a solid introduction to the group for those that might have for some reason skipped their multi-platinum 1988 debut Vivid the first time around, wrongly thinking the band was a bunch of pre-fab posers.
Housed in a clear, plastic Amray case, Living Colour: The Paris Concert is presented on a region-free disc in a 16×9 aspect ratio, with DTS stereo and Dolby digital 5.1 audio tracks. There are unfortunately no supplemental features (interviews would have been great, as these gents are articulate, interesting cats), but there is a two-CD package of the concert available as well. For more information on both releases, click here. B+ (Concert) C+ (Disc)