Don't Call Living Colour a "Cult" Band, Please
Living Colour vocalist Corey Glover knows it. He knows that, despite putting out five studio albums of criminally underrated rock, mention their name and the first (and maybe only) thing that comes to mind for many is, "Oh, that's the band that does 'Cult of Personality."
And even on their current tour, which celebrates the 25th anniversary of their debut record, Vivid ("Cult" was the first single), a chunk of the audience will only know that one tune. But that's OK with him.
"However people get to the party, I'm all for that," he says. "If that song is your only frame of reference for us as a band, that's fine. If you know it from the soundtrack of Grand Theft Auto or as [wrestler] CM Punk's theme song, that's great. If it's deeper, that's good too."
"I would appreciate it, of course, if people knew more," he continues. "It is my life's work. But I would never say, 'Well, screw you if you don't know my music, I can't deal with you!' I'm more like, If you like that one song, cool. Stick around, because there's a lot more.'"
Guitarist Vernon Reid concurs.
"Fortunately, it's the song that brought us to power," he recalls. "We wrote it while rehearsing. All done in one session. We played it the next night at CBGB's, and it blew people away. We caught fire, so I have a great deal of affection for that song. It's not just our 'hit.' It represents one of the best moments in the life of the band."
But those thinking that "Cult" would be the main set closer or encore on the current tour, you better get there early. After opening with a cover of Robert Johnson's "Preachin' Blues," Living Colour has so far been playing Vivid in its entirety in order next -- and "Cult of Personality" is the record's lead-off track.
In addition to Glover and Reid, the band also includes drummer Will Calhoun and bassist Doug Wimbish (who replaced original string-thumper Muzz Skillings in 1992).
When Vivid came out in 1988, the video for "Cult" was in constant rotation on MTV while Living Colour faced the same dichotomy as did Chuck Berry, Sly Stone, and Jimi Hendrix: there might be black faces onstage, but the audience was a sea of white.
A fact brought home because many of their songs were about the black experience in America. Those are common subjects for R&B, soul, and rap music; not so much so for rock.