Our Top 10 Living Colour Songs looks at the best of a multi-genre American band whose career has charmed many with multiple awards-winning and reputable songs. While Living Colour is referred to by many as a hard rock band, their music is an ingenious aesthetic blend of heavy metal, alternative rock, jazz, hip-hop, punk, and funk music. Between 1984 and 1986, guitarist Vernon Reid drew together a number of bands to form the Living Colour band. However, it was until 1986 that the band gained a stable lineup including guitarist Vernon Reid, vocalist Corey Glover, drummer Will Calhoun, and bassist Muzz Skillings.
The band would, in the following two years, make tours while performing at multiple club gigs. Released in 1988, their album Vivid gathered numerous sales after MTV played the band’s video for the song “Cult of Personality.” While they might have made a fortune out of their album, Vivid, the band would seek further exposure to create a larger fanbase by agreeing to be the opening act for the Steel Wheels/Urban Jungle Tour by The Rolling Stones. It wasn’t long before the band released their second and probably most successful album, Time’s Up, which reached number thirteen on the Billboard 200 and won a Grammys for the Best Hard Rock Performance. Muzz Skillings would later leave the band with his place taken by Doug Wimbish, with whom the band recorded their third studio album, Stain.
Failure to settle on common musical goals led to the disbandment of Living Colour in 1995. The band members would pursue some solo careers for the next five years only to give that away for the reformation of their band, which had quite a massive following. The band remains active to date, with their most recent album being Shades (2017). Here are the top 10 Living Colour songs that ignites or else rekindle your love for this awards-winning band’s music.
#10 – Middle Man
Ushering us into Top 10 Living Colour Songs is the song “Middle Man” from the band’s album, Vivid. Vernon Reid wrote the song alongside vocalist Corey Glover, inspired by Corey’s suicide note that he penned as a teenager. Depression would have robbed the world such a magnificent talent after he felt tired of being caught up in everyone’s mess. However, he would turn around his life by appreciating that he alone was capable of making the so much-needed change in his life.
#9 – Leave It Alone
Featured in Living Colour’s third studio album, Stain is the song “Leave It Alone” that had the band nominated for a Grammys for Best Hard Rock Performance. The song brings the shine to vocals from the band’s lead artist Corey Glover in a sublime performance while starting with some powerful guitar riffs. Corey Glover would reveal to the world that the song is about being your own person and cutting your path in life. The song’s best performance on the charts was on the Billboard Modern Rock Chart, which peaked at number 4.
#8 – Elvis is Dead
Written by guitarist Vernon Reid, “Elvis is Dead” is a ballad from the band’s album Time’s Up. The band features Little Richard and Maceo Parker on the song to spice up their composition. Notably, “Elvis is Dead” is a song centered majorly on the death of Elvis Presley, the iconic singer who was dubbed the King of Rock and Roll. The lyrics for the song seem to be built on twisted phrases from different songs, including “Graceland” by Paul Simon and “Fight the Power” by Public Enemy.
#7 – Solace of You
It feels like a crime that this song didn’t get the massive acclaim it deserved. Probably, this might have resulted in tons of powerful ballads from Living Colour’s album, Time’s Up. However, the song has acquired quite some status over time, having it feature among the top 10 Living Colour songs. From sublime guitar riffs in the intro to the melodic voice of Corey Glover, there is so much to love in this ballad which has a touch of Calypso music vibe.
#6 – Nothingness
Featured in their third studio album, Stain, “Nothingness” is well known for its transcendent and smooth bass lines. “Nothingness” has been described by both fans and critics as a moody ballad that serves a perfect break from more upbeat songs in their album, Stain. The song digs deeper into the themes of loneliness and isolation thanks to the band’s drummer Will Calhoun who was inspired to write the song as a tribute to his dad’s death. Corey Glover showcases his powerful voice in the song’s final chorus.
#5 – Open Letter (To a Landlord)
Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid sought the aid of poet Tracie Morris to come up with some lyrics to this song that reflected the transformation of East Village, New York City. The two were inspired to write this song following the demolition of old buildings and eviction of longtime inhabitants of the place. Tracie Morris delivered tons of lines that Vernon sampled, picking the best as a poet and activist. In addition, the band would have the Fowler Family do some backing vocals to Corey’s sublime singing. “Open Letter (To a Landlord)” peaked at number 82 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming one of their best songs in 1989.
#4 – Type
“Type” was one of the best alternative metal ballads that the band ever released in their second album, Time’s Up. You can’t help but drown in the song’s catchy instrumental from the beginning to the end. As the song approaches the end, the band puts on some blistering performance worthwhile giving you goosebumps. Notably, the song reflects how regular people try so hard to get what they can’t have while the rich dine and wine as they like, purchasing everything they need without a struggle.
#3 – Glamour Boys
Featured on their 1988 album, Vivid, “Glamour Boys” is one of the most iconic Living Colour songs that stands as one of the best rock performances of 1988. “Glamour Boys” is about young men infatuated with facets of high society such as merrymakings and clothing. In specific, the song takes on rich young guys who were often spotted dressed sumptuously in New York City hotspots. The video to this song performed well on MTV, having the song later nominated for a Grammys in 1990 for the Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.
#2 – Love Rears Its Ugly Head
Released in the band’s album, Time’s Up, the song “Love Rears Its Ugly Head” is the most memorable song from the band’s second album. The magnificence of this song is how it blends a touch of R&B-influenced vocals and funk-style guitar riffs to yield a perfect rock ballad. Peaking at number 12 on the UK singles chart, “Love Rears Its Ugly Head” would become the biggest hit single by Living Colour in the UK.
#1 – Cult of Personality
Coming in at number one is “Cult of Personality,” which is by far the highlight of Living Colour’s music career. From a title borrowed from a psychological phenomenon to lyrics that have quite a huge catalog of political references, “Cult of Personality” has become the band’s most popular song worldwide. The song has achieved commercial success, featured in video games such as Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and NBA 2K16, entrance song for WWE superstar CM Punk, and UFC. It’s almost Led Zeppelin-like cool guitar riff was bumped into while rehearsing based on series of notes sung by Corey. This breakthrough ballad put Living Colour among the greatest rock bands to ever grace the stage.
Top 10 Living Colour Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
Classicrockhistory.com claims ownership of all its original content and Intellectual property under United States Copyright laws and those of all other foreign countries. No one person, business or any organizations is allowed to republish any of our original content anywhere on the web or in print without our permission.