CONCRETE BLONDE: Live in Brazil: 2xCD

May 21, 2003

On the heels of last year’s comeback record, Group Therapy, LA’s Concrete Blonde go to Brazil and record a live record of past and current hits. I, for one, am not a big fan of live recordings but a few like this one makes me change my mind. Off of the Free LP, “God Is a Bullet” starts things off on the right foot and on a familiar note. Other songs off of that record include “Scene of a Perfect Crime” and “Little Conversations.” I was bummed that they didn’t have “Happy Birthday” on the set list. Hearing the haunting cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows,” that was released by the band on the Pump up the Volume soundtrack, shows the world that aggression is not necessary to express emotion. My favorite CB album is Bloodletting and many songs off of that album were on the list for the night, like “The Vampire Song,” “Caroline,” “Joey,” “Days and Days” and the fabulous cover of Andy Prieboy’s “Tomorrow Wendy.” The rest of the tracks are songs that were first included in their first self-titled LP, Walking in London LP, and Mexican Moon LP. Speaking of Mexican Moon, why didn’t they play “Heal It Up”? Oh well. Singer/songwriter/bassist Johnette Napolitano still can put chills down my spine and raise the hairs on my arms with her incredible voice. Guitarist James Mankey adds the textures to create the ambiance that is Concrete Blonde. Guest drummer, Gabriel Ramirez-Quezada from the band Maria Fatal comes in to play flawlessly on these classic tracks. Hearing this release makes me want to see them live again after ten years. Did you know that Michael Stipe is the guy who came up with the name Concrete Blonde? Go figure.

 –don (Ark 21)