Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Concrete Blonde

I just got most of the releases by Concrete Blonde, the trio from Caifornia who became popular in the mid 1980's. I had forgotten just how good of a band they were. Singer and bassis Johnette Napolitano formed the band with guitarist James Mankey and drummer Harry Rushakoff. The first single was "Still in Hollywood" which got airplay on MTV. That is where I first heard them. Their most commercially successful album was Bloodletting (1990), with the top 40 radio hit "Joey". They broke up in 1993 then reformed in 2001. The band is now officially done.

Johnette has a very cool, smoky kind of singing voice. Her lyrics are often dark and foreboding. The guitar work of James Mankey is very unique, and in the crowded world of guitarists, he forged a style and tone all his own. Those of us who care about guitar style and tone would recognize him right away.

The band put out about six studio releases, a few live recordings and a best of... CD. I love their take on "Little Wing" written by Jimi Hendrix. They also did a killer rendition of "Beware of Darkness" written by George Harrision. "True", "Happy Birthday", the three chord acoustic "Make Me Cry", "I Don't Need a Hero", "Little Conversations" , and "Scene of a Perfect Crime"
are a few of my favorites. I am looking forward to listening to all of the other songs that I have not heard yet.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

My Agile AL2000 guitar.

I have been home sick for the last few days. Since I have the house to myself, I thought it would be fun to tape myself playing my Agile AL2000 guitar along with a backing track. The magnets in the pickups were changed to alnico's (from StewMac), a cheaper alternative to getting all new pickups. They are ok, but I probably get a new pickup for the bridge. This clip is the neck pickup, which sounds great. The amp is a Peavey Classic 30, and I used a Boss DS-1 distortion pedal throught the clean channel. This works well with this guitar, but does not work with my Stratocasters very well. Enjoy - it is only a few minutes long.

I make a few mistakes here, as I a bit under the weather and tired. But what the heck...

The Agile AL2000 is a Korean-made guitar, sold only through It has a multi-piece mahogany body, maple top with a thin maple veneer (no photo flame here). The neck is maple, with a rosewood fingerboard. This guitar has very few flaws. The finish, fretwork and binding are near perfect. The 21st fret needs a bit of work, so I have have to file that down a little. This guitar was $100 on a christmas sale about 3 years ago. They sell for $199 and is the cheapest of the AL product line. I have been "bonding" with this guitar lately, although I usually play a Stratocaster or Telecaster. It is heavy, which is one of the reasons I prefer Fenders. But still...for $100 how can you go wrong.