muzz skillings

Type
  • Type
  • Living Colour
  • Time's Up
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“Type” by Living Colour

“Type” is off of Living Colour’s second album Time’s Up, which was released in 1990. The album was the last full length album to feature Muzz Skillings on bass before he left and was replaced by Doug Wimbish (then best known for his session work and work with Tackhead). Like most of Living Colour’s early material, Time’s Up is sadly out of print. However,Time’s Upis still available as an mp3 download.

I personally think it is a shame that most people only know Living Colour for “Cult of Personality”. Don’t get me wrong, it is an amazing song and I love it just as much as the next guy but Living Colour has a wonderful and diverse catologue of awesome songs.

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Living Colour - Middle Man (1988)

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Living Colour: Living Coloured And Proud

Living Colour are not a strange act of immaculate conception between a god called rock and a mother Mary called rhythm and blues. They are yet another chapter in the long history of aesthetic guerrilla warfare that began with the freedom songs sung by African slaves in the fields and has continued through James Brown’s “Say it Loud — I’m Black and I’m Proud,” Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit,” Little Willie John’s “Fever,” Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode,” Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come,” Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On,” Jimi Hendrix’s “Bold as Love,” the Isley Brothers’ “Who’s That Lady (Part One),"Stevie Wonder’s "Living For the City,” Bootsy Collins’s “Fat Cat,” Was Not Was’s “Out Come the Freaks” (the slow version), Prince’s “Uptown,” Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s “The Message,” and Fishbone’s “Party At Ground Zero.

Take, for example, a cut on the new album, Time’s Up, called "Pride,” which drummer William Calhoun says is about “how other people can relate to you as an entertainer, but because of race not as a human being.” The song doesn’t once mention the words black or white (as does none of Living Colour’s recorded material so far). It’s rockable or danceable (rock vs. soul semantics again); it’s also an artfully spoon-fed sociology lesson (“History’s a lie that they teach you in school,” sings vocalist Corey Glover in the perky pop phrasing that laces the band’s hard-rock beats with texture and irony).

What I’m trying to say is that Living Colour are not some bald-headed stepchild that the Black Rock Coalition left on the rock establishment’s doorstep one glory day in 1988, but offspring born of many years of artistic activity and political struggle by African-Americans — not a new black aesthetic, but part of a continuum old as the African presence here in America.

You’ve heard the story before: The blues (black music) gives birth to yet another mulatto child; this one is called rock'n'roll. White artists cash in. The industry runs to the bank, and in a brazen act of protectionism crowns Elvis Presley the king. Twenty-odd years later, a black hard-rock band declares itself the rightful heir to the throne and bum-rushes to the bank. Meanwhile, young Americans such as Madonna and young Britons like George Michael remind us once again how history is fond of repeating itself. Of course, shaking fingers at the culture-vultures isn’t so easy anymore, given the likes of crossover cling-ons like Whitney Houston and Milli Vanilli. Things just aren’t as clear-cut, as black-and-white, anymore. But hey, it’s about time. Only in America (and its distant cousin, South Africa) is music-mixing a social taboo rivaled only by miscegenation. In most countries across the globe, musical miscegenation, if you can call it that, is just what makes the beat go ‘round. True too in America, but, as we know, the the real battle is over turf — he who slices the pie gets the biggest piece. 

Back to Living Colour and the living coloured generation. We grew up in white neighborhoods, went to white schools, and we’re still not white (and most of us who survived have no desire to be). Or we grew up in black neighborhoods, went to black schools, and we ain’t white either. Or maybe we are. Or maybe we’re half and half. The point is, the “black experience” is not a uniform genetic code. And artists like Living Colour, in addition to making music, are waging a battle over images. Living Colour are living, breathing testaments to the fact that black Americans don’t fit into neat racial packages, though the way most blacks are marketed to Wonder Bread America suggests otherwise (Bill Cosby: house Negro; L.L. Cool J: field Negro; NWA: runaway slaves). 

It’s an interesting time to be young and living coloured. Everyone’s wearing their story on their sleeves. Young black men in New York wear Malcolm X medallions and have Batman logos shaven into the backs of their heads. Comely light-complexioned entertainers like Rae Dawn Chong and Paula Abdul ride the black magic-carpet to fame and fortune, but look in the mirror and see anything but black. Rappers from middle-class backgrounds call themselves the Poor Righteous Teachers or the Intelligent Hoodlums or Lakim Shabazz (and drop black-supremacist science while multicolored but uniformly buck-naked girls wiggle their hips in the background). And a band like Living Colour rides in as the race men of rock'n'roll.