Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Living Colour: Time's Up [Epic, 1990]
The latest target of the black superman theory won't write history like Harold Cruse and spout Afrology like Robert Farris Thompson any more than Darryl Strawberry will act the mensch like Don Baylor and hit .330 like Rod Carew. That's not his job--leading an arena band is different, and plenty difficult. It's amazing enough for a jazz musician like Vernon Reid to make the transition to pop accessibility, proving that even art-rock can signify with the best album in that meaning-laden genre since Pink Floyd was in mourning. Though the striking choruses and fancy structures are pretty Euro, the proximate model is Bad Brains sans Jah. And though MTV's millions have heard Reid's more panhuman messages before, they've rarely heard them expressed so coherently--or by a black person. Both factors count for something. A-