"CONCRETE BLONDE." Concrete Blonde. I.R.S. Here's one of the best debut records from a Los Angeles band in some time--though it's a problematic one. There's simply too much of an obvious debt to Chrissie Hynde in singer-bassist Johnette Napolitano's vocals. Concrete Blonde is in danger of going down in pop history as the best imitation-Pretenders band L.A. ever produced. But the group is too good to deserve just a footnote.
First, this is a better Pretenders album than the one Chrissie and her new band put out last year--spunky and vibrant on both the originals and an excellent version of George Harrison's "Beware of Darkness." Second, there are a couple of tracks--the sultry "Dance Along the Edge" and the witty, zooming "Still in Hollywood"--that transcend the Pretenders pretensions. The album was produced by L.A. veteran Earle Mankey, whose brother Jim (guitar) joins Napolitano and drummer Harry Rushakoff in the lineup. Watch 'em.