CONCRETE BLONDE - BLOODLETTING 20th ANNIVERSARY EDITION
Gee, too bad Concrete Blonde didn't put this album out this year, what with all its vampire references. In these Tru Blood and Twilight times, Bloodletting would have fit in just fine, and singer Johnette Napolitano certainly could have been cast. But back in 1990, she was just another Anne Rice fan in a struggling L.A. band. That is, until the non-representative and extremely catchy Joey became a Top 20 hit, propelling the band to gold status.
Joey has always stood out on the disc, a spooky and dark collection. That's thanks to the melody, and excellent vocal performance of Napolitano, a strong and deep-lunged singer who never gets the props she deserves. The number was actually as serious as the rest of the album, a love song from a woman to her alcoholic partner. Match that with Tomorrow, Wendy, about a woman dying of AIDS (strong stuff for 1990), and the vampire theme, and you get that this batch of songs had a lot more going on than most Top 40 albums.
Perhaps Concrete Blonde just never found a sound that connected. It's well-played stuff, well-written, but here they were with a near-punk attitude just pre-Nirvana, but too studio polished for that crowd. An acquired taste perhaps, yet this album still stands out. The reissue includes six b-sides, all previously released but hard-to-find, including three live cuts and a pretty smooth version of Hendrix's Little Wing.