Τετάρτη, 24 Ιουνίου 2009

Concrete Blonde - Mexican Moon


Concrete Blonde's 5th and last album until they re-united and released the 2002's Group Therapy album. I have not listened to their latest stuff but if the 6 year hiatus re-focussed their energy and made them produce an album of the calibre of Mexican Moon, then I will be looking for it. I picked up Mexican Moon as it was the only cd I could find from the band after hearing the song "Joey" (off their '90 album Bloodletting) and I was happy I did. I was quite impressed by Napolitano's voice and this album let that talent loose. The music has a Spanish influence as the title would indicate. James Mankey plays Spanish guitar which gives a Mexican flavour the album. Thompson adds to the sound by playing the timbales (a Cuban salsa double drum). But it's Napolitano's voice which will decide whether you like the band or not. The album opens with "Jenny I Read" probably the most known song off the album. It describes the cool hand of fame with a woman who was once a famous star and now is just a ghost of her former self being viewed by the younger generation as generic. "Mexican Moon", the title track that follows is about a woman who wants to forget a lost love by bar hopping in the Pink Zone (Zona Rosa) section of Mexico City and staring at the stars and moon. It's slow and moody with Napolitano's voice simmering. "Heal It Up" shows off Napolitano's vocal range and this song is the one I would recommend as a test on whether you would like her voice and therefore search out one of the band's albums. "Jonestown" is quite a spooky song. It starts of with a speech by the Reverend Jim Jones. He states: "If, if by any chance you would make a mistake to try to come in take anyone of us, we will not let you, you will die, you will have to take anybody over all of our dead bodies. Love is the only weapon. Martin Luther King died with love. Kennedy died talking about something he couldn't even understand, some kind of generalized love and he never even backed it up. He's shot down. Course love is the only weapon which I got to fight. I got a hell of a lot of weapons which to fight. I got my clothes, I got compasses, I got guns, I got dynamite, I got a hell of a lot to fight. I'll fight! I'll fight! I'll fight!" What's funny is the song isn't about the massive suicide of Jonestown at all. It's about the band's warning that the deification and idolization of rock stars results in Jonestown-like followings and it should not happen. "Rain", my favourite song off the album, shows off Napilotano's soul. The song is simple, discribing the longing of a woman for a love that is absent because the woman couldn't speak up and tell him how she feels. It also features Mankey's best guitar solo. "I Call It Love" describes that feeling you get when you are walking with a lover surrounded by the ocean, sky etc. and you get that feeling outside yourself, like pure joy. People state it's the touch of God, but Napolitano calls it love. "Jesus Forgive Me" is a song about faith. A woman gives up on faith and realizes her mistake and asks for Jesus' forgiveness for killing him in her heart. "When You Smile" is Concrete Blond's take on a Steve Wynn song written for his band Dream Syndicate off The Days Of Wine & Roses album. It tells of the feelings you get when a lover smiles at you. "Close To Home" and "One Of My Kind", the next two tracks are mostly forgettable. The first tells of returning to home after being on the road travelling around the world. The last is about a misfit who is waiting for a group to arrive that she can fit into. The album continues and then ends with "Bajo La Lune Mexicana". The first part of the album (up to and including "Rain") is stellar, but it begins to slacken afterwards. The ups and downs in the songs after "Rain" make this effort good but not great.

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