Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Blondie - Greatest Hits and Other Favorites !

It was 6 AM on a frosty, chilled morning and I was in a lousy tent on a hiking nature school camp. Not much fun really! I was the first one to wake up and I turned on my guide’s Walkman to the sound of Blondie, I lay there in my sleeping bag listening to the sound of their hit single, "Denis" and my first contact with Debbie Harry, her boyfriend guitarist Chris Stein and company.

"Denis" a cover version of Randy and the Rainbows' 1963 hit was a huge hit of those days from their 1978 album – Plastic Letters and put the young US band, (considered an underground act until then) on top of the world rock charts. There was something about "Denis". You cant be sure if it was the detail that De-nis was pronounced De-nee or that part of the song was sung in French. Whatever it was, Blondie were hailed as the forerunners of the new punk revolution and more so, as it was fronted by a female vocalist.

In 1978, Blondie were leaders in the new wave, punk rock movement but they went on to flout that classification too. The late 1970's saw the release of several Blondie albums "Blondie" (1976), Plastic Letters (1978), Parallel Lines (1978), Eat to the Beat (1979) and a string of hit singles. It's hard to pick the most outstanding - "Picture This", "Hangin on the Telephone", “Sunday Girl”, “Atomic” and "Heart of Glass" all come to mind. The last of those were the group's first US No.1 hits, building on the success that they originally found in the UK.

Something extraordinary happened as the '80's dawned, Blondie the punk band transformed themselves into more of a Pop rock, new wave band with strong dance and pop influences. Examples would include the Richard Gere starrer "American Gigolo" soundtrack which featured "Call Me" collaboration with composer Giorgio Moroder that became a worldwide super hit. Their 1980 album 'Autoamerican' a stepping stone to more success produced hits like "The Tide is High" with its strong reggae and ska references and rap-influenced “Rapture”.

Debbie Harry meanwhile released a solo album of her own of 1981, "Koo Koo" featuring the small hit “Backfired” and probably caused the inevitable brief break-up of the band released. In 1982, after a quickpatch up, Blondie released their 6th Album “The Hunter” in 1982. While a critical failure, it still gave them 2 hit singles “War Child” and Island of Lost Souls”. 

The 80's and 90's were definitely wilderness years for the entire Blondie team. The renamed Deborah Harry found modest success with her solo projects which though promising much, lacked direction or originality in terms of music while the Blondie, the Band toured across the world.

Their defining moment perhaps was the release of their 1999 album 'No Exit' and “Maria” , the hit Single. ‘Maria’ is a sexy pop rock anthem that is a powerful ambassador for the rest of the album. Not many know that “Maria” also gave the band the unique distinction of being one of only two American acts (the other being Michael Jackson) to ever reach number one spots in the UK singles charts in the 70s, 80s and the 90s.

Subsequently, Blondie released several more albums The Curse of Blondie (2003) that featured the hit “Good Boys” and the more recent Panic of Girls (2011) which featured “Mother” and “What I Heard”.

However, No Exit remains in my view, their best effort and my favorite Blondie album. Besides the superb “Maria”, it features 2 more great tracks “Nothing Is Real but the Girl” and the title track “No Exit” featuring rap superstar Coolio.

Rather than sticking to the winning sound of the late 70's, the band built a strong new identity in No Exit. The persuasive musical influences were still all very there, with strong references to the punk and pop sounds of their past but fused with the current sounds of the 90’s pop and rock scene. What this concoction produced, once out of the blender, is an remarkable album of quality punk pop rock. Combining the novelty of their new found maturity with the wisdom of their vast experience "No Exit" is a glowing testimonial to everything Blondie have always been known for and why they are still considered one of the best selling bands of all time. 

Click HERE to sample and download all my favorite Blondie Hits in this special selection. Remember to also checkout the official Blondie Website for recent news, music, band profile, tour dates, photographs, discography, biography, merchandise, links and more!


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