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Living Colour at the Magic Bag, 5 Things To Know
Living Colour closed the gap this year.
In September the pioneering hard rock group released “Shade,” its first album since 2009 and sixth studio outing overall in the New York quartet’s Grammy Award-winning career. The 13-song set mixes often politically pointed band originals with intriguing covers, including Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues,” Robert Johnson’s” “Preachin’ Blues” and the Notorious B.I.G.’s “Who Shot Ya?”
Living Colour hasn’t needed new music to tour during that interim, but “Shade” has certainly put a bit of extra jet fuel behind the group’s current road trek...
• Frontman Corey Glover says Living Colour has only itself to blame for taking so long between albums. “We spent a great deal of time fretting over a lot of stuff and trying to make sure it says exactly what we wanted to say and that we play it the way we wanted to play it,” Glover, 52, says by phone. “We wanted to make sure everything looked and felt like it should. We go through everything with a fine-tooth comb. We spent a great deal of time just laying these grooves and getting lyrical ideas and building on those,” Glover says. “Then it was a matter of picking and choosing among all that stuff we had and what works and what was kind of fair to middlin’, what needed work and what doesn’t work and go from there. And then we wanted to sound correct, and the lyrics and the vocals. And during the process we have families and children and we have lives. It was a balancing act.”
• Living Colour did have a concept in mind making “Shade,” what Glover calls “a long look at the blues and its incarnations, musically as well as emotionally. It’s Living Colour’s blues. To do a song like ‘Who’s That’ up against something like ‘Invisible,’ it’s the blues; One is more distinctly the blues than the other, but it’s all the blues -- our version of Chicago blues, our version of Delta blues. The blues evolved in various ways for various people; For some people the blues turned into hard rock and heavy metal, for some people the blues turned into hip-hop, for some people the blues turned into R&B and soul music. But it all comes from the same place.”
• Living Colour’s cover of Motown legend Gaye’s “Inner City Blues,” meanwhile, “was basically from doing a gig where we sort of stumbled into playing it,” Glover recalls. “And it was like, ‘This is good! With what’s going on right now, this is necessary.’ At that point we decided, ‘Let’s do that, see how it works.”
• Politics and social commentary has been a vital part of Living Colour’s work since its debut album, “Vivid,” in 1988. And that was no different when the group was making “Shade,” according to Glover. “There’s still problems in this world, there’ll still be problems in this world and still solutions that people don’t look at,” he explains. “The truth of the matter is we are constantly in chaos; It doesn’t matter who’s president or king or whatever, there’s a modicum of chaos in everything. You still have to be open and you have to be observant and you have to be active in all of it despite who you decide is a leader or who you decide is going to run things. If you focus on the problems, no solution will ever be made. You have to be able to be free to speak your mind and speak your truth -- that’s what’s very important to Living Colour.”
• Among the many rock musician deaths during the past few years, Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell’s suicide during May in Detroit weighs particularly heavy on Glover and Living Colour. “We did some of our first shows on the East Coast with them in the 90s. They were opening for us,” Glover remembers. “Chris was a force of nature even then, incredible, and we kept our relationship and our friendship and our camaraderie through the years. I’d see Chris every now and then, and he was always nice to me, always jovial. We had a great time. I love his kids. He was a really sweet guy, a really nice guy. it’s sad to know that behind all that power, behind all that beautifulness was a sadness he couldn’t contain.”
If You Go:
• Living Colour and Derek Day
• Monday, Oct. 23. Doors open at 8 p.m.
• The Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale.
• Tickets are $25.
• Call 248-544-1991 or visit themagicbag.com.
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