Concrete Blonde

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Concrete Blonde
OriginLos Angeles, California
Genres
Years active
  • 1982–1994
  • 1997 (one-off reunion)
  • 2001–2004
  • 2010–2012
LabelsI.R.S.
Past members

Concrete Blonde was an American alternative rock band from Hollywood, California. They were initially active from 1982 to 1995, and reunited twice: first from 2001 to 2004, and again from 2010 to 2012. They were best known for their album Bloodletting (1990), its top 20 single "Joey", and Johnette Napolitano's distinctive vocal style.

Career[edit]

Singer-songwriter/bassist Johnette Napolitano first formed a group with guitarist James Mankey in Los Angeles, in 1982. Their first recording was the song "Heart Attack", released under the band name Dreamers on the compilation album, The D.I.Y. Album (1982).[2] Joined by drummer Michael Murphy, they became Dream 6, releasing an eponymous EP in on the independent label "Happy Hermit" in 1983 (released in France by Madrigal).[3] When they signed with I.R.S. Records in 1986, their label-mate Michael Stipe suggested the name Concrete Blonde,[4] describing the contrast between their hard rock music and introspective lyrics. They were joined by drummer Harry Rushakoff on their eponymous debut album.[5]

Their first release was Concrete Blonde (1986), which included their debut single "Still in Hollywood". They added a full time bass guitarist, Alan Bloch, for their album Free (1989). 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".[6]

Their third album, Bloodletting (1990), became their most commercially successful, reaching #4 in Canada, #8 in Australia, #49 in the United States and was certified Gold in the United States and Australia. Roxy Music drummer Paul Thompson replaced Rushakoff on Bloodletting while Rushakoff was in treatment for drug addiction.[5] Napolitano also reassumed bass duties for the recording, and Bloch does not appear on the album (or the band's subsequent albums). The album was certified gold by the RIAA[7] and included their highest charting single, "Joey", which spent 21 weeks on the Billboard Top 100 Chart, peaking at 19, and #2 in Australia.[8]

Walking in London (1992) saw the return of original drummer Rushakoff (due to Thompson's immigration problems) and its successor Mexican Moon (1993) included the Bloodletting lineup with Thompson back on drums. Neither album performed as well commercially as Bloodletting, and Napolitano broke up the band in 1994.[9]

The band reunited in 1997, with Napolitano and Mankey teaming up with the band Los Illegals for the album Concrete Blonde y Los Illegals. The vocals were primarily in Spanish. During live shows, the band changed the refrain for "Still in Hollywood" to "Still in the Barrio", and featured covers of Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" and Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing".[10]

The band reunited again in 2001 and released the album Group Therapy (2002). The album was recorded in 10 days and included Rushakoff once again on drums. Rushakoff was eventually kicked out of the band for failing to appear at scheduled performances. After initially being replaced on tour by lighting tech Mike Devitt, he was eventually replaced on a long-term basis by Gabriel Ramirez.[5] Mojave was released in 2004.

Retirement and post-retirement[edit]

On June 5, 2006, Napolitano announced that the band had officially retired. From the Concrete Blonde website, there was the following open message: "Thanks to everyone who heard and believed in the music. Music lives on. Keep listening. Keep believing, keep dreaming. Like a ripple, the music moves and travels and finds you. Drive to the music, Make love to the music, cry to the music. That's why we made it. Long after we're gone the music will still be there. Thanks to everyone who helped us bring the music to you & thanks to every face and every heart in every audience all over the world."[11]

On July 13, 2010, Shout! Factory released a remastered 20th anniversary edition of Bloodletting.[6] It features six bonus tracks: "I Want You", "Little Wing", the French extended version of "Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)", and live versions of "Roses Grow", "The Sky Is A Poisonous Garden", and "Tomorrow, Wendy".[12] An error in the packaging of the re-release uses early non-album period photos featuring original drummer Harry Rushakoff, who had been replaced the night before the first studio session for "Bloodletting" by Roxy Music drummer Paul Thompson. The band followed the release with the "20 Years of Bloodletting: The Vampires Rise" tour through the rest of that year.[13]

In 2012, the band released the single "Rosalie" with the B-side "I Know the Ghost". In December 2012, the band engaged in a small tour of nine cities, mostly on the east coast of the U.S.[14]

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

Compilation and live albums[edit]

Non-album tracks[edit]

Singles[edit]

Year Single Peak chart positions Album
U.S. Hot 100
[16]
U.S. Alt
[17]
U.S. Main Rock
[18]
AUS
[19]
BEL
(FLA)

[20]
CAN
[21]
NED
[22]
1986 "Still in Hollywood" Concrete Blonde
1987 "True" 42 91
"Dance Along The Edge"
1989 "God Is a Bullet" 15 49 146 Free
"Happy Birthday" 81 82
"Scene Of A Perfect Crime"
1990 "Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)" Bloodletting
"Joey" 19 1 20 2 35 4 17
"Everybody Knows" 20 Pump Up the Volume OST
"Caroline" 23 39 22 57 Bloodletting
1991 "Tomorrow, Wendy" 66
1992 "Ghost of a Texas Ladies' Man" 2 31 28 Walking in London
"Someday?" 8 72 13 62
"Walking In London"
1993 "Heal It Up" 16 86 67 Mexican Moon
"Mexican Moon"
"Jonestown"
2002 "Take Me Home" Group Therapy
"Roxy"
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mervis, Scott (February 15, 2002). "Music Preview: Concrete Blonde reassembles for some 'Group Therapy'". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Archived from the original on August 3, 2022. Retrieved August 2, 2022.
  2. ^ Auction entry on The D.I.Y. Album, Popsike.com, Retrieved February 21, 2013.
  3. ^ "Dream 6 - Dream 6". Discogs.
  4. ^ Linden, Amy (September 1990). "Concrete Blonde's Ambition – Concrete Blond leaves a little blood on the tracks". Spin. p. 56. Retrieved August 20, 2010.
  5. ^ a b c Gina Vivinetto (April 14, 2002). "Among the ghosts and demons". St. Petersburg Times.
  6. ^ a b "Concrete Blonde". AllMusic. Retrieved February 20, 2013.
  7. ^ "RIAA – Gold & Platinum – October 10, 1991: Concrete Blonde certified albums". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved June 18, 2013.
  8. ^ "Artist/Concrete Blonde". Billboard. Retrieved February 20, 2013.
  9. ^ Rosen, Craig (July 15, 1995). "Napolitano makes Warner her Pretty & Twisted nest" (PDF). Billboard. Vol. 107, no. 28. pp. 8, 39. Retrieved February 1, 2022 – via World Radio History.
  10. ^ "Concrete Blonde y Los Illegals Rock L. A." MTV. May 8, 1987.
  11. ^ Mike Gee (September 6, 2010). "Concrete Blonde – Still Bloodletting". The Brag. Archived from the original on April 11, 2013.
  12. ^ Andrew Gilstrap (July 30, 2010). "Concrete Blonde: Bloodletting (20th Anniversary Edition)". PopMatters.
  13. ^ Whitney Matheson (June 11, 2010). "Concrete Blonde kick off a 'Bloodletting' anniversary tour". USA Today.
  14. ^ Cait Brennan. "Rosalie". Popshifter. Archived from the original on December 13, 2012. Retrieved December 6, 2012.
  15. ^ "♫ Rosalie – Concrete Blonde. Listen @cdbaby". Store.cdbaby.com.
  16. ^ "Concrete Blonde – US Hot 100". billboard.com. Retrieved July 24, 2014.
  17. ^ "Concrete Blonde – US Alternative Songs". billboard.com. Retrieved July 24, 2014.
  18. ^ "Concrete Blonde – US Mainstreem Rock Songs". billboard.com. Retrieved July 24, 2014.
  19. ^ Australian chart peaks:
  20. ^ "Concrete Blonde – Belgian Chart". ultratop.be. Retrieved July 24, 2014.
  21. ^ "Library and Archives Canada – RPM". Government of Canada. February 1, 2016.
  22. ^ "Dutch chart – Concrete Blonde". dutchcharts.nl. July 24, 2014.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]