Concrete Blonde, Bloodletting 20th Anniversary Edition

Published on July 30th, 2010 in: Feminism, Music, Music Reviews, Retrovirus, Reviews |

By Noreen Sobczyk

Did you ever notice that Johnette Napolitano rarely, if ever, gets mentioned in those Top Women of Rock lists? Even if Concrete Blonde never had a good song on any album besides Bloodletting (which, rest assured they did), this album alone is enough to put her in the Top 20. Napolitano has the swagger, songwriting talent, and the vocal ability to assure her space as, perhaps not the Queen of Rock, but as a high-ranking member of the royal court.

On Bloodletting, Napolitano shows her vulnerability, desires, and strengths in spades on classic songs like the dysfunctional love song “Joey” (the band’s biggest commercial success); “Tomorrow Wendy” (a cover of the heartbreaking Andy Prieboy song about a friend dying from AIDS); and “Bloodletting (The Vampire Song);” one of the best vampire songs ever written, arguably second only to Bauhaus’ “Bela Lugosi’s Dead.”

concrete blonde bloodletting

Although the album features contributions from Andy Prieboy, Steve Wynn, and Peter Buck, Napolitano wrote all of the songs on the original album, save for the aforementioned “Tomorrow Wendy” cover, and “The Sky is a Poisonous Garden,” which she co-wrote with B. Moreland. The lyrics are confessional, but not pedestrian. The themes of love, loss, desire, grief, pain, and strength are universal without being clichéd. She seems to have ripped much of her material straight from her heart and gut and it is striking in its sincerity. And the content is dark without wallowing in superfluous teen goth angst.

The material on Bloodletting doesn’t sound dated and reminds listeners of how good a commercially successful album can be. Each song sounds as great as it did 20 years ago, and if you didn’t buy it then, buy it now. It’s one of those albums that bears repeated listening, even for those with extensive music collections.

Bloodletting is, dare I say it, classic rock.

The 20th Anniversary Edition bonus tracks are as follows:

  • “I Want You” (B-side of “Joey” single)
  • “Little Wing” (B-side of “Caroline” CD single)
  • A French extended version of “Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)”
  • A live version of “Roses Grow” (B-side of “Caroline” CD single)
  • A live version of “The Sky Is A Poisonous Garden” (B-side of “Caroline” CD single)
  • A live version of “Tomorrow, Wendy” (B-side of “Caroline” CD single)

The 20th Anniversary Edition of Bloodletting was released on July 13 via Shout! Factory and can be ordered from their website.

2 Responses to “Concrete Blonde, Bloodletting 20th Anniversary Edition”

  1. Rev. Syung Myung Me:
    August 1st, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    I LOVE this album. Almost all of the Concrete Blonde records are magnificent, but this probably is the pinnacle of ’em. Even if it is the Big One.

    I’m a little sad that just about all the bonus tracks are on the “Still In Hollywood” collection — but how’re the master/liners/etc? It might still be worth it, as the original CD master was a little eh.

  2. Noreen Sobczyk:
    August 11th, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    It sounds good, but one picture in the booklet features the wrong line-up. I mean, whoops. It has a nice two page write up – tribute bu then just the lyrics basically. Hope that helps!

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