I have always been an avid reader and in my early to mid teen years, it was all about the horror fiction. “Different Seasons”, the collection that included the story upon which “Stand by me” was based, was my gateway into Stephen King and by 1991, I had read most of what he had published. I had also sampled a good portion of the works by John Saul and Dean Koontz, and then, my friend John suggested I check out Anne Rice. I was only about a hundred pages into “Interview with a vampire”, the first book of her Vampire Chronicles series, when the lyrics of the title track off Concrete Blonde’s 1990 album “Bloodletting” started to make a whole lot more sense.
Indeed, Anne Rice’s works seemed to serve as a sort of spirit guide to the entirety of Concrete Blonde’s third album, if not lyrically, definitely in mood and scope. This album took the American alt-rock trio into gothic rock territory and strangely, served the band up their greatest commercial success (as already mentioned in the post on “Joey”‘ which appeared at #21 on this list). Every song is tight and fit cohesively into the album as a whole, evoking the New Orleans of Rice’s books, like a gloomy, romantic, and steamy graveyard with violence lurking in every dark corner.
The lyrics of the title track are more an inference than a retelling of the first book, that dark and empty house where the vampire Louis recounts his story to a journalist, along with that of the enigmatic Lestat. In case you’ve never read the book, nor seen the film adaptation that starred Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, I won’t say much more about it but if you’ve listened closely to the lyrics, you can probably guess how it all ends. However, you don’t have to be an Anne Rice fan at all to enjoy this track, just a taste for the macabre. It’s all eerie screeching sounds that hint at bats and howling winds that rustle decaying leaves. The bass is evil and deeply foreboding, the guitars are a scratching at your bedroom window, seductively asking to be let in. And then, there’s Johnette Napolitano, a deeper and sultrier-voiced Siouxsie Sioux, her delivery sending chills all up and down your spine.
I got the ways and means
To New Orleans
I’m going down by the river
Where it’s warm and green
I’m gonna have a drink and walk around
I got a lot to think about
A great, great track, but definitely not one for the faint of heart.
For the rest of the Best tunes of 1990 list, click here.