From the Vault: Time's Up
There had been a handful of African-American hard rock bands before them--most notably Washington DC's seminal Bad Brains--but when NYC's Living Colour broke on the scene at the tail end of the hair band era with their highly acclaimed and successful debut album Vivid (Epic)--which was released 21 years ago (!) last week--millions of mainstream hard rock fans pushed aside the novelty aspect of the band's lineup and definitely took notice of the exciting quartet and its distinct take on a stagnating subgenre.
After all the exposure and numerous accolades garnered by Vivid, the band released the sprawling Time's Up, which expanded on the soul ("Love Rears It's Ugly Head") and hip-hop ("Under Cover of Darkness" featuring Queen Latifah) flavors of their debut; showcased legendary guests Little Richard and Maceo Parker ("Elvis Is Dead"); and even added a touch of psychedelia ("This Is The Life", one of the greatest album-closing tracks ever) to their bone-crunching hard rock (the Zep-like stomp of "Pride", "Information Overload", and the title track). The band's lyrical content also featured their continued interest in socially conscious issues, incorporating war, history, race and sexual politics in a pointed but never heavy-handed manner.
(The guys from Rage Against the Machine must've been listening.)
While not as well known or readily accessible as its predecessor, Time's Up is an undoubtedly rewarding listen, one of the best records of its kind, and a brief snapshot of where hard rock found itself then: in between hair metal on its last legs and right before the Seattle explosion of the early '90s.
Inexplicably, the gold-selling, Grammy award-winning Time's Up is out of print on CD but still available for digital download. Check it out: time's running out.