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Living Colour Working on Blues and Led Zeppelin-Inspired New Album

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Living Colour still don’t have a title or release date for the follow-up to their 2009 ‘The Chair in the Doorway’ LP — but guitarist Vernon Reid definitely has an idea of what fans can expect to hear when the new record arrives.

Reid spoke with Guitar World about the band’s ongoing sessions, which have included covers of Robert Johnson’s ‘Preachin’ Blues’ and the MC5‘s ‘Kick Out the Jams.’ As he tells it, tackling the Johnson blues standard served as a critical turning point for the album. “We played the song ‘Preachin’ Blues,’ and it got me to thinking about the blues, hard rock and metal and how they’re all connected,” he explained. “It started this conversation about, ‘What does it mean to have that in the mix?’ Because, we were like, ‘We’re not gonna do a blues-rock record,’ but the blues is very integral and important. So that conversation has been the underpinning of what we’ve been doing.”

And while saying “the blues” might conjure tired old visions of hellhounds and crossroads for listeners who think that form of music has said all it has to say, Reid stresses that it’s much more expansive — and every bit as vital as it ever was. “The cliché is, the old black man complaining about his life,” he continued. “That’s not what it is. That’s like saying the blues is about playing the pentatonic scale. You reduce it to component parts and then you can’t see what is actually happening, and what’s happening is really a very interesting story about the human condition.”

Sonically, it sounds as though Living Colour will also be aiming for a twist — and one inspired by a different kind of rock ‘n’ roll forebear. “One of the things that I love about Led Zeppelin is that they reverse-engineered the blues,” he hinted. “They took it, spun it sideways and turned it on its head. That’s sort of a model in my mind — not to sound at all like them. but taking things and turning them sideways.”

You can check out a clip of the guys working on ‘Preachin’ Blues’ above, and keep an ear tuned for the arrival of the new album in the months to come. “What I hope happens is that it’s going to tell a kind of narrative,” Reid teased. “That story may be different to whoever listens, but a story is definitely going to be there.”

Living Colour Fall 2014 Tour Dates
9/18 – Toronto, ONT
9/19 – Ferndale, Mich.
9/20 – Chicago, Ill.
9/21 – Minneapolis, Minn.
9/23 – Kansas City, Mo.
9/24 – St. Louis, Mo.
9/26 – Denver, Colo.
9/27 – Grand Junction, Colo.
9/29 – Seattle, Wash.
9/30 – Portland, Ore.
10/01 – San Francisco, Calif.
10/03 – Petaluma, Calif.
10/04 – Los Angeles, Calif.
10/05 – Solana Beach, Calif.
10/07 – San Juan Capistrano, Calif.
10/10 – Dallas, Texas
10/11 – Austin, Texas
10/12 – Houston, Texas
11/28 – New York, N.Y.
11/29 – Londonderry, N.H.
11/30 – Boston, Mass.
12/01 – Philadelphia, Pa.
12/03 – Stafford Springs, Ct.
12/04 – Newton, N.J.
12/05 – Ridgefield, Ct.
12/06 – Leesburg, Va.
12/07 – Hanover, Md.

Next: Top 50 Led Zeppelin Songs

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