In the late 1980s and early 1990s, a true music fan couldn’t go anywhere without hearing the hard-rockin’ tunes of Living Colour — and if they had any sense about them, they were immediately entranced by the larger-than-life presence of its lead singer, Corey Glover. A former child actor who was, prior to the band, best known for his role as Francis in the 1986 Oliver Stone film, Platoon, Glover’s voice became ubiquitous as the hit song “Cult of Personality” shot to the top of Billboard charts, and its accompanying colorful (no pun intended) video went into heavy rotation on MTV.
But Corey Glover was, above all else, a funk singer and an informal student of the blues, and he proved it by seamlessly moving between the “heavy metal with a funk twist” stylings of Living Colour and the true funk sounds of Galactic. (According to The Daily Beast, in between Living Colour’s demise in 1995, and first reunion in 2000, Glover had a solo career where he went by the name of Reverend Daddy Love and formed the band Vice with Mike Ciro. He also had a stint on Broadway, for two years, as Judas Iscariot in Jesus Christ Superstar.)
Where Corey Glover shines best, however, is when he’s stripped down to the barest of bones and allowed to let his songwriting — and his warbly, other-worldly voice — take center stage. On this night at KJ Farrell’s in Bellmore, Long Island, New York, where he was accompanied solely by a guitarist and sang a medley of his solo tracks (“The Rose”), Living Colour hits (“Love Rears Its Ugly Head”), and a bone-chilling version of the classic Leonard Cohen song, “Hallelujah,” which literally entranced the crowd into silence.
But before Glover could enchant the intimate crowd, Crash Transit took the stage with their series of original tunes. Led by Phil Richards — a long-time rock’n’roller who, at first glance, could pass for a younger version of Corey Glover — the band is a cobbling-together of a series of bands that made their way across the New York City rock scene for a number of years. Back when CBGB produced legendary music and a boy with a six-string and a dream could become a Bowery superstar, Richards and his ilk were slogging it out in bands like Absolut Drama, Status Joe, Sick as Monday, and Wonderous Stories. More than a few articles, in the late 1990s and early aughts, were written about these boys and their bands — most notably in The New York Times — but today, they’re more concerned about playing good old-fashioned rock’n’roll than they are about getting that ever-elusive record deal (and who needs a record deal, really, when the internet is a thing?).
Some of the songs they performed, in fact, were B-sides of hit songs that their former bands made famous (or infamous, depending on who’s telling the tale). But this writer has a bit of a personal history with “Tell Me In The Morning” (which was originally performed by Hydeside, later known as Sundowner), and so it’s only right that it be included here, live and in — no pun intended — living color, for the rest of the world to enjoy. It’s pretty amazing that a song can be nearly 20 years old and still sound as fresh and as new as it did when it was first recorded, but then again, that’s the beauty of good songwriting, good musicianship, and good old-fashioned rock’n’roll.
Overall, it was good to see Corey Glover in such an intimate setting, given that when Living Colour goes on tour later this year, that will be a virtual impossibility.