Living Colour's Vernon Reid: what I'm listening to

Living Colour recently issued a most excellent album called The Chair In The Doorway. And in March, the group will take part in the all-star Experience Hendrix Tour in which they'll play with such notables as Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson, Ernie Isley, Jonny Lang, Brad Whitford and Kenny Wayne Shepherd, just to name a few.

Vernon Reid spins his iPod for MusicRadar. Image: © Gary Gershoff/Retna Ltd./Corbis

But when MusicRadar caught up with the band's maverick guitarist Vernon Reid, we asked him the burning question on everybody's mind: "What are you listening to on your iPod, Vernon?"

He was more than happy to dial the wheel and fill us in...

1. Explosions In The Sky

"A very cool instrumental guitar band from Texas. Their music is hard to describe, but it's what has been termed 'post rock.' It's grand, sweeping - it's not ambient but it has a physicality to it, almost like a movie soundtrack. They're kind of a cross between My Bloody Valentine and Sigur Ros, if that's even possible.

"They have two albums called All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone and The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place that knock me out. The guitar playing isn't shred; it's more moody than that. I just love what they do. They take me to a different place, which is what the best music often does."

2. Los Lobos

"David Hidalgo has been a hero of mine for a long time. Los Lobos have two albums called The Town In The City and Colossal Head that never fail to blow me away.

"What I dig about them is, on the one hand, they come from a Mexican-American place, but they also have a uniquely American perspective. The music is very funky and experimental, and it gets under your skin.

"People talk about roots rock, and a lot of it leaves me cold. Bottom line: much of it sounds fake. Los Lobos are the real deal, though. There's nothing about them that's contrived. Everything they do is genuine. They live what they play and vice-versa.

"They have a song on Colossal Head called Manny's Bones that's about this implacable, wild gambler character, a real roustabout. Everybody knows a guy like this, and Manny's Bones reminds me of several dudes I've met in my life that fit the bill. A great song by a great band."

3. Meshell Ndegeocello

"A great singer, songwriter, bass player - she's the whole package. I've been listening to her for a long time. The record that is currently doing it for me is Bitter. It's one of those records that is very moody and hard to pin down because it works on so many different levels.

"The biggest thing I like about her is how unapologetic she is about who she is. In the song Bitter she talks about infidelity from the standpoint of the person who's the infidel. The person who she's cheating on is despicable, so while what she's doing herself is despicable and unforgivable, you understand her actions because she states her case so clearly. I wouldn't be surprised to find that Amy Winehouse is very influenced by her."

4. Little Dragon

"They're a Swedish band I discovered on YouTube. I was in my kitchen late at night, surfing around, and I came across this video of a song of theirs called Twice. Maybe it was because I was in this late-night kind of mood and I was seeing this video with shadow puppets and things, but I was spellbound.

"The band is kind of electronic-gothic, dancey yet strange, and they have a wonderful vocalist named Yukimi Nagano, who's Swedish-Japanese. And when I say 'wonderful,' I mean she has a voice as beautiful and unique as Bjork. Her style is a mix of a torch singer and a disco diva. You take Bjork, Edith Piaf and Donna Summer, put 'em in a blender and you have Yukimi Nagano. People need to check the band out - late at night, if possible."

5. The Mars Volta

"I've loved these guys for a while, even though I don't understand them. What they do is so out there and special - you can literally listen to a record like Amputechture a hundred times and still not know what's going on. Normally, that puts people off: 'Oh, this is too strange. I don't get it.' For me, that's the attraction.

"Plus, Omar Rodriquez-Lopez is one hot guitar player. I hear a little bit of Carlos Santana in what he does, but I think the influence is subtle. He definitely does his own thing."

6. Porcupine Tree

"They've been doing great work for a while, but Fear Of A Blank Planet is a seriously stunning record. Like The Mars Volta, Porcupine Tree are hard to pin down. What are they? What are they doing? I don't know. I just know that it's wild.

"It's prog, but it's not old-school prog. The band follows rules as they're making them up. That's the great thing about a group that throws away the manual: they can mean different things to almost every listener. There's no conformity to what they do, and I find myself drawn to them like a moth to a flame."

Joe Bosso

Joe is a freelance journalist who has, over the past few decades, interviewed hundreds of guitarists for Guitar WorldGuitar PlayerMusicRadar and Classic Rock. He is also a former editor of Guitar World, contributing writer for Guitar Aficionado and VP of A&R for Island Records. He’s an enthusiastic guitarist, but he’s nowhere near the likes of the people he interviews. Surprisingly, his skills are more suited to the drums. If you need a drummer for your Beatles tribute band, look him up.