What A Long, Strange Trip It's Been
They say the desert
can make a sane man go insane, make you see things that arent there, and
make you hear things when there is nothing around for miles. The sun of day
can blister the flesh while the chill of night can leave you frostbit. Such
describes Mojave, the latest release from the venerable band, Concrete
Leaving the crowded,
smog-ridden congestion of the City of Angels for the unpredictability of the
Mojave desert, Concrete Blonde have emerged with a dark, brooding album of songs
as diverse as their environment. Johnette Napolitanos weathered voice
conjures up the spirits while Jim Mankeys swelling guitar work gives them
life. Drummer Gabriel Ramirez pounds out the rhythms in tribal glory.
The album plays out like a psychedelic peyote trip beginning with the first
cut, the A Road, with its driving beat and lyrics, Judy
Judy Valentine, Couldnt walk a straight white line, She brought a lizard
home to stay, He hissed and licked her every day. Next up is the bass-propelled,
Because I Can, where Napolitano moans, I found a place where
the high turns blue and I walked right out of my mind.
Youre beginning to smile as you feel the drug course through your body.
The cathartic Through With This compels you to rid yourself of all
materialistic things; but then, just as youre feeling your most comfortable
and most vulnerable, a dark wind blows in. A lone guitar starts strumming an
old familiar song. Of course youve heard it before. It cant be,
or can it? It is. But youve never heard it like this before. A deep, frayed
voice whispers, yippi yi yay, yippi yi yo, Ghost riders in the sky.
Then, in the distance, you notice a pack of coyotes silhouetted by the full
moon; yet, seemingly, their eyes glow with an eerie iridescence. You shiver
as Napolitano launches into a spoken word homage to the nocturnal carnivores
in the song, Hey Coyote.
The journey grows even darker and you wish the sun would soon rise while Himalayan
Motorcycles race through your head. Baby fishes swim away, theyre
following their mama butterfly. What does it all mean?
Sweating and shivering at the same time, you start hearing voices. They are
the voices of past generations, ghosts, possibly the devil himself. They are
voices of the desert. They are the Mojave.
The dawn is breaking as you throw off the blanket of night and stare into the
eastern sky. The light grows brighter and warmth descends upon you. Is it safe
yet? Do you emerge from the voyage or do you wait? Wait for what? Perhaps for
The Snakes hissing, I think I feel you in the sand, not far
away. A tiny tremor of the land I lay and wait. Ill see your eyes; your
big wide eyes but you wont see me. Yesssss you and I will meet tonight
under a Joshua tree.
Its over. Remnants remain, but they always do. A flash of metal on the
side of the road triggers a memory, real or imagined. One can never tell. The
paralysis of night gives into the liquidity of day. A silly song pops into your
head, Jim Needs An Animal. How droll. The sun begins its journey
across the desert sky. The drumbeats of another day begin. Napolitano sings
on Someones Calling Me: to begin again from zero, lose
your fear. Im in your ear. Im always here.
You grab water, the elixir of life and leave this magical place. You put all
things aside and as the last song on the album, My Tornado At Rest,
plays out you hear the familiar voice sing, Like a song, like a wave,
like a moment in an ocean. What I wanted, Yeah I got it. But I needed I was
haunted. Im a comet. Im a flower. An exploding neon shower.