PRETTY & TWISTED -- Pretty & Twisted (Warner Brothers)

Ex-Concrete Blonde singer/bassist/songwriter Johnette Napolitano once said that after 10 years, she would call it quits for the band. Holding true to her words, Concrete Blonde made their final tour in 1993. In the summer of 1994 while visiting Paris, Napolitano met drummer Danny Montgomery. Together, along with Johnette's old friend -- Wall of Voodoo founding member Marc Moreland, they formed Pretty & Twisted.

Making her debut as a producer on the band's new CD, Napolitano has come up with a stellar collection of songs. The new material isn't as aggressive as her former band's, but its just as entrancing. With songs like the dark and foreboding "Souvenir", or the band's cover of the Roxy Music classic "Mother of Pearl", it's clear that Pretty & Twisted are a band to take notice of.

The first single, "Ride" has the potential to be a major crossover success. The pseudo-rockabilly "No Daddy No" (which lifts the chord progression from The Runaways' "Cherry Bomb" for the chorus) could be a hit as well. "Train Song (Edge of Desperation)" picks up on the musical direction Napolitano was heading by the end of Concrete Blonde's last CD, "Mexican Moon". The song bears a close similarity to that CD's "Love is a Blind Ambition". Moving toward the end of the CD, "Billy" evokes images of a smoky barroom with its dark, moody riff.

Napolitano also shares the writing duties with some engaging artists outside the band. "Stranger" was co-written with Paul Westerberg. The lyrics to "Come Away With Me" were originally a poem written by one of Johnette's heroes -- Janis Joplin. The results are spellbinding.

One of the things that make Pretty & Twisted different from its predecessor, Concrete Blonde, is Moreland's guitar work. While not as aggressive and in-your-face as the style of Jim Mankey, it's more fluid & melodic. Also, Johnette's vocals are now much more relaxed. The hostility in her voice from years ago is gone. No longer an angry young woman in her 20's, she now conveys a sense of maturity and confidence with her vocals. "Pretty & Twisted" is an impressive debut from a stunning new band.

© 1995 Steve Marshall