Friday, May 09, 2008

Memories of '88

This afternoon on WFMU, I will join dj Billy Jam to celebrate and discuss the year 1988. A few of our guests will include film producer Lisa Cortes (who I first met in ’88), novelist Todd Craig (tor’cha”), bloggers and Steve Flemming from, authors Marcus Reeves (Somebody Scream) and Donnell Alexander (Rollin’ With Dre), journalist Serena Kim, writer Chris Chambers, singer Maiysha (whose debut disc This Much is True is doper than dynamite) and my man fifty-grand Bill Adler.

Please join us at:


Besides being a landmark year for emerging new jack swingers and soon to be classic hip-hop acts like the underrated Stetasonic, newcomers EPMD, Long Island sound warriors Public Enemy and Brit-voiced rapper Slick Rick, what made the year complete for me was the release of Living Colour’s stunning debut Vivid.

Though I can barely comprehend what the rest of Planet Pop must had thought about a black rock band blaring electric mojo, sporting Mohawks and questioning the status quo, I was more than ready to embrace the feedback.

Indeed, having grown-up playing a mean air guitar as Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton and other (white) guitar gods, hearing Vernon Reid create beauty and chaos on his ax was amazing.

As a wild sonic child in the city, I had gone to countless Living Colour performances, but being able to blare in my bedroom favorite bangers like “Funny Vibe,” which featured guest appearances from Chuck D. and Flav, “Cult of Personality,” “Middle Man” and “Glamour Boys” was a treat.

Though my Initia thought they were corny, that didn’t stop her from standing by her man at every venue where I had gone to see the group at CBGB’s, the Kitchen and various other grimy joints. Still, though I followed them around as though they were my version of the Grateful Dead, it still shocked me when these NYC super freaks signed with Epic Records in ’87; hell, not only did Living Colour get a contract, but they were also label-mates with Michael Jackson and Luther Vandross.

Yet, while Vernon Reid was hotter than July with his Keith Haring designed Stratocaster, it was also the wonderful voice of singer Cory Glover that took listeners church and the mosh pit simultaneously. Standing at the tip of the stage, Cory was a powerhouse vocalist who could command attention of the audience even at his most gentle.

Perhaps because interviewing Living Colour was one of my first professional gigs or the fact that these cats rocked the foundations of Black music, but twenty years later a brother is still nodding his head to the roar of Reid, Glover and the talents that constructed such a monumental sound.

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Anonymous S. Flemming said...

"these cats rocked the foundations of Black music"

That's always what I think of when I hear "Cult of Personality." I still remember the day they appeared on "Soul Train," and all of us were left scratching our heads like "What the fuck?" LOL Not because it wasn't good, but because we just weren't used to seeing this sort of thing on "Soul Train," let alone from black people. But those boys were bad. Fishbone was another one of those black rock bands that blew my mind too.

9:17 AM  
Anonymous LC Fan said...

they're in the midst of recording a new cd and looks like they will be having a few european dates this fall...let's hope for a US tour :

11:06 AM  
Blogger Howard said...

I was in college in Chicago when Vivid came out. One weekend we left Friday night, drove to NY, watched Living Colour Saturday night and drove back to Chicago on Sunday in time for classes the next day.
I will never forget the pre-Vivid shows in NYC -- wish the band would release some of those.

1:31 PM  
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1:54 AM  
Blogger Danielle said...

They blew me away when I first saw them. All I could do was stare and marvel at the sounds coming from these Brothas.

My favorite is "Love Rears It's Ugly Head."

1:17 PM  
Blogger Lawrence said...

Sorry, but I've got to disagree. I thought, and still think, Living Color were mediocre at best and really only gained attention because of the novelty factor.

There were a lot of black bands out there that really did deserve some notice. Bad Brains, The Untouchables, and Fishbone were better. But hey, that's my opinion.

2:52 AM  
Blogger Marcus Reeves said...

Thanks for your wise words, Oh Guru of the Pen.

11:13 AM  
Blogger boukman70 said...

I wanted to like LC more than I actually did. Though a hip-hop head myself, back in high school (I graduated in '88) my headbanger friends were listening to S.O.D., Slayer, Megadeth. Living Color was just too poppy for my tastes. I will give it up to Fishbone, though.

Here's something I wrote about Summer of '88 a few months ago. I couldn't figure out if I were feeling nostalgic or not:

4:23 PM  

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