Corey Glover says Living Colour has only itself to blame for taking eight years between albums.
The quartet will close the gap with the Sept. 8 release of the blues-inspired sixth album, Shade, whose first single “Come On” is debuting below. It’s Living Colour’s first outing since 2009’s The Chair In The Doorway, but frontman Glover tells Billboard the group hasn’t been sitting idle during the interim.
“We spent a great deal of time fretting over a lot of stuff and trying to make sure it says exactly what we wanted to say and that we play it the way we wanted to play it,” Glover tells Billboard, explaining that Living Colour spent about two years working with producer Andre Betts “in fits and starts” before calling the 13-song set a wrap.
“We spent a great deal of time just laying these grooves and getting lyrical ideas and building on those,” Glover says. “Then it was a matter of picking and choosing among all that stuff we had and what works and what was kind of fair to middling, what needed work and what doesn’t work and go from there. And during the process we have families and children and we have lives. It was a balancing act.”
The result after all that time was what Glover calls “a long look at the blues and its incarnations, musically as well as emotionally. It’s Living Colour’s blues. To do a song like ‘Who’s That’ up against something like ‘Invisible,’ it’s the blues; One is more distinctly the blues than the other, but it’s all the blues — our version of Chicago blues, our version of Delta blues. The blues evolved in various ways for various people. For some people the blues turned into hard rock and heavy metal, for some people the blues turned into hip-hop, for some people the blues turned into R&B and soul music. But it all comes from the same place.”
The stuttering, thumping “Come On” came early in the Shade process, and as the track progressed its lyrics, like many others on the album, swung to embrace the charged tenor of the times. “It’s the times more than anything else; Where are you mentally at that particular point?” Glover explains. “Even when we started this record there were a lot of things going on in the world, period, that needed to be talked about, and it just sort of ratcheted up as we progressed. That made us have to really look at this stuff and go back and make sure it really did emphasize certain things, make sure it was working.”
In addition to the group’s original songs, Shade features covers of Robert Johnson’s “Preachin’ Blues” — the song that inspired the album when Living Colour performed it during a 100th birthday tribute to Robert Johnson at the Apollo Theater in Harlem — as well as The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Who Shot Ya” and Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues.” The group is planning spot dates and promotional work for Shade during the summer, with touring for North and South America and Europe slated to coincide with the album’s release in September.