When I realized that Concrete Blonde was entwined with one of my most favourite groups (Wall of Voodoo) I started picking up more of their albums, and I gradually grew to like their somewhat minimal, streetwise sound. The later "Mexican Moon" release REALLY grabbed me -- all sludgy, cavernous studio-trickery, with Andy Prieboy on piano -- and though I sadly missed that tour, Vanilla and I made it to their "Group Therapy" reunion show, which was nothing short of incredible...flamenco routines and all.
Johnette Napolitano is a top-notch songwriter, able to distill both love and pain without relying on cliches:
Things get better every day you stay alive.Guitarist James Mankey has a jangly, loose style well-suited to sweetness, power-chords, and even SWEET power-chords. Their drummers may come and go, but that core duo will hopefully always be around, charming the rockers and the goths and the card-playing parents alike.
Then I'm amazed every day
that the sun decides to rise.
Every minute, every hour,
is another chance to change.
Life is beautiful & terrible & strange.
Here's Johnette looking more Lee Aaron than usual, with "Heal It Up," including Roxy Music's Paul Thompson on Big Thumpy Drums.
After breaking up and then settling their differences, they proved to me (and hopefully the world) that they still "had it." Here's "Take Me Home," possibly one of the most astute and beautiful of all their songs.
Must-have albums? I'd say both their first self-titled release and "Mexican Moon," to capture both their garage sound and their crazy-studio sound. Albums to avoid? Definitely "Walking in London," which has some good moments but otherwise sounds like they're only going through the motions..."stumbling through London," as it were. For fans only: Napolitano's collaboration with guitarist Marc Moreland called "Pretty and Twisted," which is as demented and beautiful as you'd imagine.