label: sanctuary
production: living colours
year of release: 2003
1. Song Without Sin
2. A ? Of When
3. Operation: Mind Control
4. Flying
5. In Your Name
6. Back In Black
7. Nightmare City
8. Lost Halo
9. Holy Roller
10. Great Expectation
11. Choices Mash Up
12. Pocket Of Tears
13. Sacred Ground
14. Tomorrow's Never Knows
15. Nova
Rock used to be a rebel music. But with many of the Rock fans growing old, or older, Rock got established, as well as changed. Now many of those savvy experts and music analysts say that Rock is the new Pop. However, by definition, Rock can not be Pop. It can be popular, but not Pop. Rock is the spit in other people's face. It's the moment you tick out in your room, letting out steam. It's brash, it's uncomfortable, it's loud. All what pop isn't. So you need to wonder if the new generation Rock has gone Pop, or if Pop has gone Rock. It's probably the first case scenario, despite the previously mentioned contradiction.
What all puts Living Colour, the veterans and spearhead of Black Rock stars, in an uncomfortable position. Because they can either adapt to this new environment, put their stamp on the new environment, or just cater to the people that are used to their terms of the trade. In many ways the Colours try a little bit of everything. What does not always lead to good results.
The glam rock is hidden in the distortion of both the vocals and instruments, as practiced on "? Of When" and even more so on "Operation: Mind Control". But in both cases the chorus offers some harmony, while the topic turns to: "it's the battle for America's soul / just try on this straight jacked of conformity / while we force weed you propaganda". That technical aspect of the songs culminates on "In Your Name", where the drum and the glitzy effects sound programmed, further electrifying the music.
The complete contrast appears in the rock-n-roll songs "Holy Roller" and "Back In Black", which are much from a different reality, as they could (should?) be from a different album. "Choices Mash Up" offers the middle ground, while on "Nightmare City", the album covers another area with the reggaeish beginning that quickly mutates in proper rock though.
The complete merging of everything finally completely works on the exciting "Tomorrow Never Knows", where the song finds the wings to rise. Another excellently written piece is "Flying", as Living Colour actually uses the instruments to tell more than just chords. The guitar is cleaner, kinda Claptonist, while the song does not hide behind technical excesses, but rather opens itself in its clarity. The repetitive wording of "Great Expectation" with a honest musical approach, as well as the remote, maybe only subjectively heard Arabic styling of elements in "Lost Halo", are other moments of excellent craftsmanship.
The messages, as already shown by the few quotes, are strongly political, while in abstract ways kept sarcastic as well. Like when "In Your Name" takes the Ready To Rumble Rumsfeld position of 'your with us or against us' stance: "we got bombs and planes / we got plans and people / and we do it in your name". Or attacking the 'one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter' stance with Hunter vocabulary on "Sacred Ground": for those who lie before the bulldozers and chainsaws / battling the devouring megacorps / here they come with their cash draws grins / vampires, parasites and vermin". "Song Without Sin" is a take on propaganda, when Corey Glover admits that "you're more interesting when you're lying" to however quickly put a disclaimer on his own statement: "whatever you're selling I ain't buying". At the same time, the lyrics also consider neutral, personal themes ("Pocket Of Tears"), as well as the obligatory romantic poem, like on "Lost Halo".
Maybe the Colours wanted to do too much at the same time. Not putting an argument forward for doing one style and riding that horse to death. But only seldom do these songs sound like the musicians really mastered the style they intended to do or at least completely commit to them. What keeps the rest in 'work in progress' waters. But they probably didn't wanna sound dated, what they nevertheless do at times. What all gives the four men an uphill battle against the rock the young kiddies know. The elderly (ha) will find their likings in here, especially as there's much a thing to like on this album. The cross generation communication often though suffers.
review: tadah
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