Mr. O’Grady answered the question “WHICH LIVING COLOUR SONG HAS YOUR FAVORITE VERNON REID GUITAR SOLO?” with a very long, detailed, and well thought-out missive on “Cult of Personality;” for his troubles, he wins a free pair of tickets to tonight’s Living Colour show at the Highline Ballroom here in NYC.

Toxteth tells me he’s never seen LC live before; man, is he in for a treat! Toxteth, if you see us at the show tonight, feel free to buy us a beer. Thanks.

Read Toxteth’s essay-sized answer after the jump.

The solos from Cult of Personality
Sure, it’s almost too easy to pick that song because it flat-out rules, but we need to dig a bit deeper. Cult of Personality is a song warning of the dangers of state power and abuse at the hands of your political “betters.” These are the best because it is more than just sheer guitar skill that makes them the best. The structure and placement of the solos reinforce the central message of the song: beware state control.

Cult of Personality has not one, but two solos. Yes, I know that there is one big solo, but only by viewing both in relationship to each other and the theme of the song that we can see how much effort was put into this song. As a side matter, I doubt that the acronym of the title (COP) is insignificant.

Solo #1 starts at 1:45. Though short, it serves as your warning of things to come. Small encroachments at first seem innocuous, though looking back it is hard to miss the warning signs. This short, frenzied solo hints at what comes from state power: insanity. Alternatively, you could view it as the freedom that the masses have before that freedom is lost to state control.

Solo #2 starts just past the 3-minute mark, and is nothing more than Vernon kicking your teeth in. At its core, Living Colour is telling you that this is what happens when you let the government run things for you. It goes from seemingly-indecipherable noodling to a more restrained and standard solo. View the start of this solo as the initial frenzy and reaction of the populace at the new intrusion by the state. As the solo progresses, the solo seems more restrained by comparison. Why? As time passes, people grow accustomed to the new intrusion, and it is within the acquiescence of the new standard where we find the greatest danger from the state.

As metalheads, we value our independence and individuality. Living Colour speaks directly to that point in what is easily one of their best songs. But it is more than just a killer riff that makes this song great, or that it calls out political leaders of all stripes. This song becomes truly great because of both of its solos. These solos show that Living Colour not only uses words to express a message, but also uses the structure of the song to convey meaning.

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