Concrete Blonde PhotoFORMED: 1982, Los Angeles, CA
DISBANDED: 1995

Concrete Blonde grew out of the Los Angeles post-punk club circuit that produced bands like X, Wall of Voodoo, and the Go-Go's, but it wasn't until 1987 that the band even recorded its first album. The group was founded by singer/songwriter/bassist Johnette Napolitano and guitarist Jim Mankey, who played bass in Sparks with his brother Earle during the '70s. The two met while working at a studio owned by Leon Russell and were soon recording collaborations at Earle's studio. The two called themselves Dream 6 and released an EP through a French independent label, which was later reissued by Capitol. Their insistence on complete artistic control was offputting to the major labels who took notice, however, and it wasn't until 1987 that the group signed to I.R.S. and changed its name to Concrete Blonde at the suggestion of labelmate Michael Stipe.

Concrete Blonde recorded its self-titled debut album with Harry Rushakoff on drums, which betrayed the influence of the Pretenders. 1989's Free was a tighter showcase for Napolitano's developing songwriting and produced a college radio hit with "God Is a Bullet." The morose, textured Bloodletting, a more accomplished record than both of its predecessors, broke the band to a wider audience with the left-field Top 20 hit "Joey," the tale of a love affair ended by alcoholism. Former Roxy Music drummer Paul Thompson played on both Bloodletting and its 1992 follow-up, Walking in London. The next year's Mexican Moon reflected Napolitano's interest in Hispanic music and culture, but Concrete Blonde's commercial fortunes had declined since Bloodletting, and Napolitano broke up the band. In 1995, Napolitano resurfaced in the band Pretty Twisted with partner Holly Vincent. Two years later, Napolitano and Mankey reunited to record an eponymous album with the Los Angeles band Los Illegals.

The new millennium, however, saw Napolitano, Mankey, and Rushakoff reform after an six-year hiatus. Group Therapy marked the band's return and a slew of winter dates followed in January and February 2002. The trio returned in 2003 with Live In Brazil. This effort marked Concrete Blonde's first offical live release, showcasing a brilliant double-disc set from the band's last evening of their week-long tour of some of Brazil's biggest cities from 2002. ~ Steve Huey, All Music Guide

Photography By: Jeffoto