Certain Songs #933: Living Colour – “Type”

Album: Time’s Up
Year: 1990

Outside of “Open Letter (To A Landlord),” the dazzling virtuosity on display throughout Living Colour’s debut album Vivid left me kinda cold, so I was surprised how much I loved the follow-up, 1990’s Time’s Up.

All these years later, I don’t know why that is, I just know that from the opening notes of the thrashfunk title track to the final fadeout of the proggy “This Is The Life,” I totally grokked what they were up to, and it became one of my favorite albums of that year.

And there was nothing I grokked more than the tune I consider their greatest song, “Type.” With Will Calhoun’s snare harder than diamonds and Vernon Reid layering any number of lead guitars over Corey Glover’s rhythm guitar, “Type” is all sharp angles on the verses, before turning around into a pure-pop chorus that climbs over the back of Reid’s guitar:

We are the children of concrete and steel
This is the place where the truth is concealed
This is the time when the lie is revealed
Everything is possible, but nothing is real

But where “Type” really shines is on the bridge, first revealed after the second chorus, but almost immediately buried by a guitar solo.

Everything that goes around, comes around

Karma! One of the two things I believe in (the other is serendipity) on the unknowable cosmic level, and just that initial bridge was enough for me to fall in love in “Type.”

But there’s more! After the last chorus, the whole song comes to a near stop, the beat slows down, while singer Corey Glover reminds us a couple of times that “Nothing is real,” and a chorus of angels starts singing that mantra slowly but insistently for the rest of the song.

Everything that goes around, comes around
Everything that goes around, comes around
Everything that goes around, comes around
Everything that goes around, comes around
Everything that goes around, comes around
Everything that goes around, comes around
Everything that goes around, comes around

At first, Glover just sings along with the angels, but eventually he starts singing around them, at first, even slower, but eventually he’s chanting, scatting, praying, rejoicing, anything he can think to go around and come around.

Meanwhile, Vernon Reid, who never heard a space that he didn’t think needed more guitar, starts adding more guitar. Soloing and soloing and soloing and soloing as the both Glover and the song’s tempo pick up, and by the fade it’s a beautiful, brilliant near-cacophony of human voices and guitar notes.

For reasons, I guess, “Type” wasn’t as big of a hit as “Cult of Personality,” but to me, it’s a way better song.

“Type”

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