Monday, July 18, 2016

Songoftheday 7/18/16 - Neon lights a Nobel Prize, where the mirror speaks the reflection lies...


"Cult Of Personality" - Living Colour
from the album Vivid (1988)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #13 (two weeks)
Weeks in the Top-40: 9

Today's song of the day comes from the band Living Colour, who came together in New York under guitarist Vernon Reid in the mid-80s. After a shifting lineup ended with Corey Glover taking over lead vocals, the all African-American group released their debut album Vivid in 1988. An amalgam of styles dominated by a hard rock guitar crunch, the record was heralded critically but publicly neglected until the video airplay for the single "Cult Of Personality" got rock radio's attention at the end of the year. It was twelve months after the release of the album that the track, written by the band and produced by Ed Stasium (who engineered work of the Ramones and Talking Heads), reached pop radio, and even though it may have a little bit been noticed by the "new" factor of a black rock band, they certainly had the chops, with Corey's wall of force voice and Vernon's Jimmy Page-esque licks being anchored by drummer Will Calhoun and bass man Muzz Skillings. But starting with a snippet from a speech by Malcolm X, and sported lyrics about the attraction of theatrical diabolical-ism (which is so appropriate with the current Republican presidential nominee), before turning to Kennedy and Roosevelt quotes to land the plane. The politically active mood fit the metal underbelly that it was a no-brainer it would earn a Grammy in the turbulent post-Reagan abyss...


"Cult Of Personality" became Living Colour's first top-40 pop hit in  May of 1989. The single also reached #9 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock radio chart. Internationally, the song reached #3 in New Zealand, and was a minor hit in neighboring Australia (#54) and the UK (#67). However, despite its chart rewards, the single ranks in my choices of the most important hard rock songs of the decade.

(Click below to see the rest of the post)


Here's the band performing on the Arsenio Hall show, marking a breakthrough for a rock act on the R&B-dominated show...


Next up on tour behind the album in 1988...



... and finally here's the band in 2006...


Up tomorrow: All-woman band goes to the tropics for some rain, man.

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