Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Listening Post: Fear of a Black Rock Planet Edition

The latest issue of Spin magazine features a fantastic retrospective on the birth of the Black Rock Coalition. For the uninitiated, the BRC was founded in the mid-80s by Vernon Reid of Living Colour; it was an organization aimed at helping black bands and artists who dared to do the unthinkable as far as record producers and promoters were concerned -- that is, play guitar-heavy rock and roll -- get a leg up in the industry.

Early members included, of course, Living Colour, as well as 24-7 Spyz, King's X, Bernie Worrell, and Nona Hendryx, but the bands they helped push into the relative mainstream were as diverse as Fishbone, Bad Brains and early Faith No More.

Today, the Black Rock Coalition continues to thrive. Here in New York City, TV on the Radio and Pillow Theory (whose frontman, Kelsey Warren, has been one of my closest friends since college) are members officially and in spirit.

Here now, the mighty music of early Black Rock Coalition.

Living Colour -- Type

24-7 Spyz -- Don't Break My Heart

King's X -- It's Love


votar said...


They all sound the same to me.

Chez said...

Yeah, but you also think Johnny Cash's version of Hurt is some kind of blasphemy -- so your opinion doesn't count.

Deacon Blue said...

Good Lord! What is Vernon Reid's guitar made out of?

The tanned and cured flesh of a record producer?

Oh, wait, if so, that might not be such a bad thing...

Ike said...

I saw Living Colour open for the Rolling Stones in a stadium. Then I saw them headline in a small auditorium with Kings X as the opener.

They outrocked the Stones on the big stage, and brought the house down in the small one.

The Living Colour/Kings X show was the best concert I've ever seen that did not involve Rush.

(and just to show we have even more common ground, my daughter's favorite song when she was two was Peter Gabriel's live version of "In Your Eyes," and her favorite at age 5 was Cash's "Rusty Cage.")

Chez said...

I've caught Living Colour five times. The first time was at the 930 Club in DC back in the late 80s.

That remains one of the best shows I've ever seen -- probably topped only by Pearl Jam on the Ten tour.

Anonymous said...

I love King's X.

LC FAN said...

they're alive and touring as well as writing new music! :


Anonymous said...

Let's not leave out Sevendust. But yeah, I loves me some Kings X too. I've got five of their albums, which is only like a third of their catalog.


Sat.Morn.Brkfst.Show said...


Thanks for including Fishbone. They were huge here in my circle of friends in San Diego when I was a teen (1985 or so).

A friend and I sneaked out to the El Cortez ballroom near Downtown. What a show! They ended the night with a 20-minute version of the 'Fat Albert' theme song. Na na na Gonna have a good time...

Also, don't forget The Untouchables. The scooter gang from Repo Man. Another So Cal group, with a more traditional SKA sound and look.

Keep on.

Trish said...

I also saw Living Colour open for the Stones at Veterans Stadium in Philly on the opening show of the Steel Wheels tour back in '89. They were amazing. I knew that they'd gotten back together a couple of years ago, I need to check them out. I also had a boyfriend who played the hell out of King X's Gretchen Goes to Nebraska, another great CD. It's sad that "black rock" is still so rare, but then again why have musical talent when you can curse over a beat and get paid hundreds of millions of dollars (looking at you, Fitty)?

Izar Talon said...

If they are in some way responsible for Faith No More making it into the world, then they are worthy of every music award there is.

Angel Dust is one of my all-time favorite albums by any band ever.

Hex said...

Living Colour was my first concert (snuck out of my parent's house to see them). I signed up for the BLC newsletter at that show, and was always excited to get updates in the mail (it was that long ago).

24/7 Spyz just put out an album a little while ago that's actually really good, and of curse Living Colour keeps on rolling along, great on stage as ever.

True story, when I was in college I found a group of guys from FAMU who were forming a black rock band, and I begged the lead singer over and over to let me play guitar for them. He always had trouble telling me exactly why he wasn't so keen on the idea -- but eventually one day, probably sick of my continual pestering just blurted out

"You're white, man. It's just not gonna work."

I look back on it now and it's funny. But it sucked at the time.

Anonymous said...

It's about time someone talked about the bands that helped change the face of Rock and if they were smart, they would band together for a national tour Lalapalooza style and really show the world just how different and unique each band really is! As Black people, they all don't look alike and as Black bands, they don't all sound alike! Here's an early Christmas gift for all lovers of 24-7 Spyz & King's X. For the first time ever, the baddest 3 piece bands on the planet will share the stage in NYC on December 16 at the Blender Theater.

Dave B. said...

I've made a pledge to check in once a day just to read your blog, as catching up on 3 weeks plus of your posts is quite a chore.

I guess the xbox can wait a little.

That said, excellent tune choices once again. I've no doubt your music collection is as eclectic as mine.

How many jews-turned-atheists would have a Mahalia Jackson album, ya know?