Concrete Blonde

Classic Masters

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Classic Masters Review

by Hal Horowitz

This adequate but hardly comprehensive budget-priced overview replaces the far better Recollection: The Best of Concrete Blonde, which as of this album's release in 2002, was out of print. It's also six tracks and about 20 minutes shorter, but for the price this is a reasonable representation of the highlights from the band's five IRS releases, although only one track is pulled from both 1989's Free and 1993's Mexican Moon. Concrete Blonde scored most effectively when the emotional and distinctive voice of de facto leader Johnette Napolitano was upfront and center on ballads like "Caroline," "Tomorrow Wendy," "Joey," "Someday?," and even the band's faithful version of Hendrix's "Little Wing," the B-side to "Caroline" also included here as the disc's only non-album offering. When they tried to rock out, the results were less impressive, although Napolitano is tremendously effective switching between spoken word and singing on "God Is a Bullet," one of their most powerful statements. Obvious in its omission is "Ghost of a Texas Ladies' Man," one of Concrete Blonde's finest moments, where James Mankey's reverbed guitar is meshed with a rockabilly beat. It was a minor hit and a better song than "The Sky Is a Poisonous Garden," which, along with "Little Wing," are the only tracks included here not on Recollection.

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