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Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Concrete Blonde : Mexican Moon 1993



Concrete Blonde were an alternative rock band from Hollywood, California. They were active from 1982 to 1995, from 2001 to 2004, and then reunited in 2010 and split up again in 2012. They were best known for their 1990 album Bloodletting, their top 20 single "Joey", and Johnette Napolitano's distinctive vocal style.


Singer-songwriter/bassist Johnette Napolitano formed the band Dream 6 with guitarist James Mankey in Los Angeles in 1982. The band released a single called "Heart Attack" under the name Dreamers on the 1982 compilation album, The D.I.Y. Album; this was evidently their first recording. As Dream 6, they released an eponymous EP in France on the Happy Hermit label in 1983. When they signed with I.R.S. Records in 1986, label-mate Michael Stipe suggested the name Concrete Blonde, describing the contrast between their hard rock music and introspective lyrics. They were joined by drummer Harry Rushakoff on their eponymous debut album.


Their first release was 1986's Concrete Blonde, which included "Still in Hollywood". They added a full time bass guitarist, Alan Bloch, for their 1989 release, Free. This allowed Napolitano to focus on her singing without the burden of playing the bass at the same time. This album included the college radio hit "God Is a Bullet".


Their third album, 1990's Bloodletting, became their most commercially successful. Roxy Music drummer Paul Thompson replaced Rushakoff on Bloodletting while Rushakoff was in treatment for drug addiction. The album was certified gold by the RIAA and included their highest charting single, "Joey", which spent 21 weeks on the Billboard Top 100 Chart, peaking at 19.


The album is a striking marriage of Johnette Napolitano's dark, lyrical imagery and the band's alternative-tinged pop sensibilities making it, perhaps, their most fully realized effort. "Jenny I Read" kicks things off with the tale of a chance encounter of a fallen, reclusive starlet. Guitarist James Mankey shows versatility playing acoustic and Spanish guitar on the dreamy title track and the wah-wah effects of the brooding "Jesus Forgive Me (For the Things I'm About to Say)." "Heal It Up" was the unsuccessful single but is a bracing number with a ferocious vocal performance by Napolitano. Despite the inspired playing, intelligent and insightful lyrics, and the crisp production, Mexican Moon failed to expand the group's audience and would prove to be their last release before breaking up.


The music on Mexican Moon takes the gothic rock of their previous albums and adds more of a hard rock edge to it. Johnette Napolitano provided the vocals, bass guitar, samples, and the album artwork, and she was accompanied by drummer Paul Thompson and guitarist James Mankey.


"Jenny I Read" details the rise to stardom and subsequent fall into happy obscurity of a fashion model (rumoured to be Bettie Page), while "Mexican Moon" finds lead singer Johnette Napolitano singing about a failed romance and fleeing into Mexico. The song "Jonestown" is a scathing critique of the theology surrounding the Jonestown Massacre and opens with a minute-long sample of Jim Jones ranting about warfare. "End of the Line" is a Roxy Music song, written by Bryan Ferry and originally released on the Siren album.


On the closing track, "Bajo la Lune Mexicana", Napolitano (who does not speak Spanish) wrote the Spanish lyrics, which are a literal translation of the lyrics to the album's title track. However, none of the verbs are conjugated, noun gender is ignored, and correct grammar is non-existent, and yet mostly doesn't seem to detract from the overall translation from Spanish to English.

TRACKS

01."Jenny I Read"    5:20
02."Mexican Moon"    5:03
03."Heal It Up"    4:21
04."Jonestown"    6:09
05."Rain" (James Mankey, Napolitano, Murphy)    3:28
06."I Call It Love" (Mankey, Napolitano)    5:17
07."Jesus Forgive Me (For the Things I'm About To Say)"    5:17
08."When You Smile" (Steve Wynn)    4:21
09."Close To Home"    3:32
10."One of a Kind" (Napolitano, Texacala Jones)    3:55
11."End of the Line" (Bryan Ferry)    4:41
12."(Love Is a) Blind Ambition"    6:15
13."Bajo la Lune Mexicana" ("Under the Mexican Moon")    5:07


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1 comment:

  1. Bel Album, depuis que j'ai piétiné avec eux/elle les rues de Londres, je ne m'en suis jamais lassé. Merci pour ce post.

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