STAIN: the story behind the alternate solos by Ron St. Germain:
“I remember talking to Michael Caplan about how to accomplish that! Only 25,000 copies got pressed of the 3 songs with the ‘2 different solos’ on them and NOTHING was mentioned in the press about that. The reaction took quite a while to surface (and many have NEVER heard the various versions to this day), but the effect was EXACTLY as planned… another piece of musical HISTORY for us, Gents!”
Have a listen to the alternate solos for Ignorance Is Bliss, Leave It Alone, and Bi
The 1993 Stain Press Release
You can expect Living Colour’s new Epic album Stain to leave its mark on rock & roll.
Stain is the third Epic release by the storming New York-based band; it succeeds the platinum 1988 debut Vivid and the gold 1990 sophomore effort Time’s Up. (An EP, Biscuits , was issued in 1991.) Like its predecessors, Stain exhibits Living Colour’s high-temperature mix of hard rock energy and funk-inflected rhythm, social conscience and unfettered emotion.
Living Colour’s intense and insightful music has won the acclaim of audiences, critics and peers alike: Among a raft of honors bestowed on the band were back-to-back Grammy Awards for Best Hard Rock Performance in 1990 and 1991 for (respectively) the breakthrough track “Cult Of Personality” and the Time’s Up album.
Living Colour features Vernon Reid (guitar), Corey Glover (vocals), William Calhoun (drums) and Doug Wimbish (bass). Stain marks Wimbish’s recording debut with the band; he replaced original bassist Muzz Skillings in June 1992. Wimbish’s virtuosic playing has graced records and concert appearances by the Sugar Hill Gang, James Brown, George Clinton, Tackhead, Mark Stewart’s Maffia, and Jeff Beck. “I didn’t think I’d ever want to be in a real band again,” Doug admits. “But I really like working with the guys, and I’m really secure with them. I know their history and they know mine.”
“What Doug is playing is amazing,” says Corey Glover. “All over the record, he’s playing beautiful things. I think that after making the change from Muzz, the band got a new beginning.”
Stain’s spread was guided in the studio by producer Ron Saint Germain (Bad Brains, Soundgarden, Sonic Youth). Stain features 13 new Living Colour originals: gritty rockers that prove “the personal is political” with a brand of furious grace that only this band can muster. Vernon Reid notes: “There’s a theme here of outsiders, of outcasts, of flawed characters–because a stain is a flaw. I think we all have the stain of original sin as well, and that’s a theme here too.” The recording of Stain began in the early summer of `92 at Living Colour’s warehouse in Long Island City, New York. Sessions continued at Bearsville Studios in Woodstock, NY and wrapped up at rustic Long View Farm Studios in Worcester, Massachusetts.
Song titles like “Go Away,” “Ignorance Is Bliss,” “Mind Your Own Business,” “Never Satisfied” and “Nothingness” suggest a darkening of the group’s collective vision, couched in the most elegantly crafted and thunderously acute playing of its career. As always, the music emanates from a distinctly personal, wary-yet-wised-up point of view, without hyperbole or pretension. “These songs have a directness in the groove of them and the heaviness of them,” says Reid. “The joy of life is in this recording, in the way the four of us are interacting. This record doesn’t put you in a bag and tell you to stay there. As writers, we’re trying to be less self-righteous, to come down off the soapbox.”
Living Colour was initially and loosely organized in the mid-1980s by Vernon Reid, a co-founder of the Black Rock Coalition who had already won critical acclaim as the guitarist in drummer Ronald Shannon Jackson’s Decoding Society. Living Colour’s lineup solidified in 1985-86. Reid encountered Corey Glover singing “Happy Birthday” at a mutual friend’s party. William Calhoun, a Berklee School of Music graduate, met Reid in the Bronx and was recruited for a Living Colour gig at C.B.G.B.
It was this lineup that was signed to Epic Records and recorded Vivid with producer Ed Stasium. Released in April 1988, the album took off when MTV put the “Cult Of Personality” video into heavy rotation; in 1989, the clip collected three trophies at the MTV Awards. “Cult Of Personality” shot into the Top 20 on Billboard’s Hot 100. Vivid held the album chart for 76 weeks, ultimately climbing into the Top Ten. The album’s third single, “Glamour Boys,” breached the Top 40. The Rolling Stone Readers Poll voted Living Colour the year’s Best New American Band, and late in 1989 the band won massive exposure opening for the Rolling Stones on the latter’s “Steel Wheels” tour.
Living Colour’s 1990 album Time’s Up, again produced by Ed Stasium, marched up the Billboard chart to No. 13. The album, which included such crucial tracks as “Type” and the caustic “Elvis Is Dead,” led to citations for the group in Rolling Stone’s Critics Poll as Best Band; for Vernon Reid as Best Guitarist, and for Will Calhoun as Best Drummer. The 1991 release of the Biscuits EP, a mixture of live and studio tracks that included Living Colour’s renditions of songs by Jimi Hendrix and James Brown, was followed by a summer-long stint on the first Lollapalooza Tour.
In late 1991, bassist Muzz Skillings departed the ranks, but Living Colour found an ideal and integral new member in Doug Wimbish. He joined the band for January `92 dates in Brazil and became a permanent member in June. The next month, the newly solidified Living Colour lineup played “live rehearsals” for a new album at C.B.G.B. and Wetlands in New York City. Sessions for the album followed, and the result is Stain: an indelible new achievement by Living Colour.
The members of Living Colour offer their comments on the songs of Stain:
“Never Satisfied” “This was the first song that was brought in to the rehearsals in Long Island City, and the first song we finished.” [William Calhoun] “This is very linear. We’re following each other in unison and didn’t change much from the original, ah, genes and chromosomes of the song as it was presented by Vernon.” [Doug Wimbish]
“Go Away” “The guy in the song has done what he can for the world. He feels so small compared to the problems, and he’s inundated with all this information from TV. It deals with that part of your brain that becomes negative, that becomes overwhelmed by war, starvation, displacement of entire populations. You get tired of it!” [Corey Glover] “This is the song that really made us into the band we are now, when we started to create songs together. Will was sick one day, and Corey was sitting on the drums with me and Vernon. Corey’s got one beat, he can play it slow or fast!” [DW] “I love playing this kind of stuff. I feel like I’m on a plane ride or on skis, just jetting by…It’s like a James Bond mission!” [WC]
“Post Man” “This one’s really dark. It’s basically about these disgruntled employees like postmen who walk into their workplace and start shooting. I was thinking about that guy who shot up the diner in Texas, and the guy on the college campus in Canada who murdered those women.” [Vernon Reid] “My voice is like the man responding to himself, the ego and the superego speaking to one another. It’s his own private cheering section, cheering him on to some terrible act of violence. For my second vocal I sat in the studio with the lights out, just tripping on myself. A very eerie feeling…” [CG]
“Bi” “It’s not judgmental and it doesn’t preach safe sex. It’s really more about the actual state of being. Will wrote the music and I wrote the words, because I was involved with a bisexual woman and we had some really…interesting situations that came up.” [VR] “The first song Vernon and I wrote for this album. I had the music, he had the lyrics, but I couldn’t quite finish it. I said, lemme see your lyric book–he’d been talking about the subject for a while–and it just happened. In five minutes we finished the song, when I’d had the music for six months and no idea what kind of story would go with it…”Andre Betts, who’s worked with Madonna, he came in and hooked up that hip-hop drum sample. That’s an old-school B-boy beat–I’ve been hearing that since about 1978, up here in the Bronx.” [WC]
“Auslander” “I was in Germany doing a drum clinic tour on my own, and I kept hearing this word auslander. Well, it means foreigner,’ and it refers to immigrants who’ve come to Germany from Turkey and Greece and other countries. Even before the outbreak of violence this year, the reaction of many Germans was like, `Why should these families be allowed to come in here and get jobs, buy homes in certain sections,’ etc. So I went out and did my own little interviews–with Germans, with Turks, with other auslanders–and came up with these lyrics in the hotel one night. Everything that I want/Isn’t everything that you’ve got–meaning I don’t want your job or your house, I want my own job, my own house, and the opportunity to work to earn those things. In the recording, we tried to get some industrial, almost military vibes–that kind of abrasiveness–and it came out great.” [WC]
“Leave It Alone” “I was on an airplane to London last spring and I was hearing this progression, these basic guitar chords. I brought it back, and Corey dug it–he wrote all the lyrics except the hook and the bridge. Vernon did that other riff, and that saved the song as far as I was concerned!” [DW]
“This Little Pig” “It’s not about the police at all. People who say that are thinking of the Cypress Hill song! There’s a whole variety of characters being described here, one of whom may be a cop. It’s like looking out the window and ascribing a whole life to a person from seeing him or her working down the street.” [CG] “This was a song created on the spot at rehearsal. It started with me and Corey jammin’ around–I was playin’ crazy Yusef Lateef-type Chinese twelve-tone scale stuff! But we all got our little licks in there.” [DW]
“Nothingness” “I wrote this from a personal experience of a family member’s troubles, when he really got down to nothing. Vernon relates to it more as a love song, the end of a relationship, but it really was a family relationship that almost did end. The orchestral sounds are Vernon playing guitar synthesizer, and he sets the emotional tone: big and empty.
“Corey sang into this satellite dish outside the studio [Long View Farm]–it was bent over instead of facing the sky. He said, `I wanna sing this outside’–it was 4 a.m.! Ron Saint Germain and I were walking past this dish and heard this crazy echo. So there’s no vocal overdub on that song, it’s one song with different microphones on a continuous vocal performance. An unbelievable experience, with Doug right under there makin’ it swing.” [WC]