Concrete Blonde

Still in Hollywood

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With their brief moment of commercial success having long since faded, Concrete Blonde had essentially split by the time this collection was released. For fans, it's a well-conceived treat, gathering together many of the band's non-album tracks (although most had been available as B-sides). There's really not a track that won't be a delight to the band's devoted following. There are a handful of well-chosen cover songs. Leonard Cohen's "Everybody Knows" is given a suitably ominous treatment and there is a beautiful, heartfelt take on the Cheap Trick ballad "Mandocello." Early college radio hit "God Is a Bullet" appears as a brutal live version (with some searing guitar work from James Mankey). The band's punk roots show on another live track, "The Sky Is a Poisonous Garden," and the chilling "Tomorrow, Wendy" retains its potency in a sparse, stripped-down version, showing off Johnette Napalitano's compelling vocal abilities. The B-side originals are consistently good, with the swaggering, loner lyrics and Mankey's spidery, twang guitar making "100 Games of Solitaire" especially noteworthy. The liner notes are concise, but informative, and Still in Hollywood is a well-done packaging of work that reinforces Concrete Blonde as a very talented creative unit.

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