Eagle Records, 2000

REVIEW BY: Mark Millan


When Blondie ended their sixteen-year hiatus in late 1998, it was not an impulsive decision as Chris Stein had been putting the feelers out for some time before tentative rehearsals began in 1997. Deborah Harry held out the longest at the idea this all could work again, but her confidence grew with each session. Original members Stein, Harry, Clem Burke and Jimmy Destri were now joined by Leigh Foxx on bass and Paul Carbonara on guitars.

The band hit the road in late ’98 and would eventually wrap the tour up some thirteen months later, having smashed out an impressive 110 gigs, during which time they dropped their wonderfully eclectic comeback album No Exit (which spawned a UK #1 in Destri’s enigmatic “Maria”). This release was simply titled Live for the US market. It included The Snoops’ Theme Song version of “One Way Or Another” rather than the band’s own live version that the rest of the world (including we here down under) were pleased to get. Apart from that one track, both versions are the same, grouping together 17 tracks covering their old and new material, although not surprisingly, 1982’s The Huntermy_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 doesn’t get a look in. On the other hand, neither does Plastic Letters from 1978 unfortunately.

Livid sees Blondie kicking off in top gear and staying there for the ride. From the opening one-two punch of “Dreaming” and “Hanging On The Telephone” through to the punishing closer “One Way Or Another,” it is clearly evident they were bringing the heat this time around Never before (nor since) had they attacked their sets with such ferocity.

The guys sound tighter than Burke’s snare and Harry’s vocals are off the chain, shifting from sweet “Sunday Girl” to fierce “Call Me” with ease. her stunning vocals on “Shayla” are proof that she was at her absolute peak here. A couple of the No Exit tracks feel a little flat (“Forgive And Forget” and “Screaming Skin”); however, others are up for the fight, especially the majestic “Maria,” the relentless “Under The Gun,” and the demented “No Exit,” itself which is like “Rapture” on crack.

Speaking of “Rapture,” the guys give this one a funkified extended workout that is topped by Harry’s sublime, note-perfect delivery – she even nails her raps, which if you’ve seen Blondie live (several times here), you will know is a rarity. The frantic attacks on “Rip Her To Shreds” and “X Offender” are punctuated by Stein and Carbonara’s twin-guitar assault, which they had spent months perfecting prior to hitting the road. Foxx’s “less is more” approach allows Burke all the space to pull out all of his trademark frenetic licks without muddying the waters.

Both Destri on keys and Harry rise above all of this with seemingly little effort. Destri’s breakdown during the anthemic beauty of “Atomic” is inspired, not to mention the sense of levity he brings to “The Tide Is High.” The band dish up a more urgent take on their classic “Heart Of Glass” as if to give it a bit more muscle; Destri goes into full retro disco territory for this one, and finally a crack in Harry’s veneer appears as she sounds almost resigned to the fact that she will always have to sing it.

The great thing about Livid is that it reminds us that when Blondie re-emerged, they did so without a hint of nostalgia or self-preservation. They played like a band possessed, often destroying much younger bands on the festival circuits and leaving the critics and hardcore fans wondering why they ever went away in the first place.

Rating: A-

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