Living Colour's 1988 debut, Vivid, is precisely the sort of release music writers hail in retrospect as seminal. The cross-breeding of rock, funk, and hip-hop so common nowadays can find a key piece of its beginnings in the path cut by four black New York City rockers, whose balls-out sound, built around the wails of guitarist-bandleader Vernon Reid, developed concurrently with the big town's burgeoning hip-hop scene.
Much of Living Colour's lyrical content mirrored rap's growing sense of street politics, and Vivid included a collaboration with Public Enemy' s Chuck D. and Flavor Flav. The band's high-octane brew was also laced with first-rate pop instincts, evidenced by tracks such as "Glamour Boys" and the band's signature tune "Cult of Personality." Vivid went multiplatinum, snagged a Grammy, and kicked off a run of five releases and much praise from fans and critics, which lasted till 1995. A reunion in the new century resulted in 2003's Collideoscope. The band updated its electronics, and while it emerged more lyrically pessimistic than ever, was sly enough to cover "Back in Black." And Reid's side projects since then have proved he's still a monster.