Blondie

Blondie

Chrysalis Records, 1976

http://www.blondie.net

REVIEW BY: Michael R. Smith

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/02/2014

If I were to rewrite my own history of my love for music, I’d start here, with Blondie’s eponymous debut. But that’s not exactly how it happened. It would still take a few years for me to discover the band, preferring instead to follow the career of, um, Donny & Marie. Talk about guilty pleasures! Guess you can lump me in the same category of most Americans back in 1976. Though they came out of the seedy, scrappy Bowery in New York City, Blondie’s initial success would most immediately be seen halfway around the world in Australia, before Blondiemania took a full hold of the UK. When it came to the ever-conservative States, lead singer Deborah Harry must have been seen as an alien landing from another planet. She was edgy, mysterious and kinda scary. Ahead of her time she and the four men of Blondie may have been, but then this country has always been hesitant to lay the title of “next big thing” onto anyone. Pushing the envelope from a creative standpoint was never a priority for music artists here. The tried and true route was always a safer bet when it came to launching careers. You had to pay your dues.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Producer Richard Gottehrer (of Go-Go’s fame) would reel in the eccentricities and polish Blondie’s rough live punk sound for their first record. Many of the songs sound like a strange hybrid between the girl group sixties sound (“Little Girl Lies”) and the futuristic electronic sound that was just starting to capture the ears of the listening public, compliments of the disco era. Primarily, it was solid guitar, bass and drums here, backing up the pristine, expressive vocals of Miss Debbie. The songs all fall under the 3:30 mark, making for a speedy runtime that is never boring. If modernized surf tunes are your thing, this Blondie album is for you.

There is one experimental track tacked on as the album’s closer, “The Attack Of The Giant Ants.” Not only could this serve as a possible theme song to a monster movie of the same name, but it would be right at home on Blondie’s train-wreck of a sixth release, namely 1982’s The Hunter. It doesn’t exactly fit with the rest of the material on Blondie, but you know what? That’s what I like about it. If anything, it helps to demonstrate that Blondie wasn’t afraid to try new things. They were fearless when it came to breaking new ground. Don’t forget, it would take Blondie to be the first act – a white one at that - to bring the rap genre all the way to #1 with “Rapture,” which can be found on my personal favorite Blondie album, 1980’s Autoamerican.

When it came to radio-friendly singles on Blondie (none of which were major Billboard hits), you have the trifecta of the controversial “X Offender,” the CBGB classic “Rip Her To Shreds” and the dreamy ballad “In The Flesh.” What’s most notable is the fact that all of these retro-sounding cuts are Blondie originals, written by all five members of the band. That’s what makes the group sound so fresh and exciting, while harkening back to a familiar time as to not alienate prospective new fans. It’s a hard balance to strike indeed, but something Blondie would be so adept at achieving on this and all subsequent releases. It could very well be the secret of the band’s longevity in the music biz, ultimately landing them a spot in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2006. This first effort was a good way to start, but two years later, they’d really hit it out of the park with Parallel Lines.

Rating: B+

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© 2014 Michael R. Smith and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Chrysalis Records, and is used for informational purposes only.