Album review: Concrete Blonde, Free (1989)


By Steve Newton

“God Is a Bullet” is one of the best singles of the year so far. A raging tirade against the mindless use and dire consequences of firearms, the tune just guns along, propelled by guitarist James Mankey’s freewheeling harmonics and Johnette Napolitano’s seething, heavy-duty vocals.

But the opening track of the new Concrete Blonde album is only one of a number of killer tracks. The group’s first album in three years (they were bogged down in record company hassles) finds Napolitano handing over the bass-playing chores to newcomer Alan Bloch, and concentrating more on her singing–and what a voice she’s got!

With a fire akin to Joplin, she pours it on with great rockin’ tunes like “Help Me” and “Run Run Run”, then tones down the flames on the delicate “Sun”. The LP could do without the pseudo-rap “Roses Grow”, but benefits greatly by the inclusion of Thin Lizzy’s rarely-heard 1974 gem, “It’s Only Money”.


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