Posts Tagged ‘Clem Burke’

Blondie Autoamerican album cover 820

At the dawn of the 80s, Blondie was one of the biggest bands on the planet. They’d hijacked the mainstream with 1978’s flawless release “Parallel Lines” and consolidated that success with the following year’s multi-platinum “Eat To The Beat“. However, while these legend-enshrining titles showed that the New York sextet had outstripped both the punk and new wave scenes, the group made an even more radical departure with their fifth album, “Autoamerican“.

The album was a radical departure for the band, with opening track “Europa” setting the pace. The track is a dramatic instrumental overture featuring orchestral arrangements and ending with vocalist Debbie Harry declaiming a passage about automobile culture over an electronic soundtrack. Incorporating elements of jazz, blues, disco, and the avant-garde, “Autoamerican” was still a sizable commercial success (going platinum on both sides of the Atlantic), but it confounded critics at first. Rather like The Clash’s equally ambitious Sandinista!, “Autoamerican” attracted criticism simply for daring to embrace sonic diversity – something that was an element of Blondie’s DNA from the get-go.

Blondie was probably the most modern band I’ve ever worked with in that they soaked up influences from innumerable sources,” Blondie and No Exit producer Craig Leon said in a 2019 Record Collector interview.

“As songs like [Parallel Lines’] ‘Heart Of Glass” show, they were like human samplers when it came to incorporating ideas and concepts and genres, often in just one song. They are probably the most eclectic band I’ve ever worked with.”

“Eclectic” remains the watchword where “Autoamerican” is concerned. Marking the first time Blondie had left their native New York to make an album, the recording sessions took place at United Western Recorders (now part of the Ocean Way complex) in Hollywood, where The Beach Boys recorded parts of “Good Vibrations”. During their Californian sojourn, Debbie Harry’s team was joined by “Parallel Lines” producer Mike Chapman and studio engineer Lenise Bent. The latter recalls band and producer being meticulous in their preparation. Producer Mike Chapman insisted the band record in Los Angeles. Guitarist Chris Stein lamented: “Every day we get up, stagger into the blinding sun, [and] drive past a huge Moon-mobile from some ancient sci-fi movie.” Drummer Clem Burke welcomed the change: “Autoamerican” was fun. We got to spend two months in California. I’m always up for a free ride.

“They’d done a lot of pre-production”, she said in 1999. “Everybody was pretty prepared by the time they got into the studio. Magical things did happen, there was room for those spontaneous things, but the preparation helped because you didn’t have to think about the basics.”

Blondie brought a wealth of new songs to the sessions, a clutch of which – “T-Birds,” the cinematic “Angels On The Balcony” and the aggressive, drum-heavy “Walk Like Me” – could easily have graced “Eat To The Beat“. Elsewhere, however, the band fearlessly grappled with everything from the jazzy cabaret of “Here’s Looking At You” to the shimmering disco-funk of “Live It Up” and the smoochy, noir-infused blues of “Faces,” with the latter featuring a gloriously smoky vocal from Harry.

Two radically disparate musical genres, meanwhile, provided the album’s signature hits. Blondie had already dabbled with reggae on Eat To The Beat’s “Die Young, Stay Pretty,” but at the instigation of guitarist Chris Stein, they delved deeper into Jamaica’s rich musical heritage for a sunny, horn-laced cover of The Paragons’ 1967 ska hit, “The Tide Is High.”

“I was the one who picked ‘The Tide Is High’,” Stein told The Village Voice in 2008. “That’s the only song [from Autoamerican] I was sure was going to be a hit beforehand – not least because it said ‘number one’ in the chorus!”

Stein’s assumption proved entirely correct when the infectious “The Tide Is High” – released as the album’s lead single, in October 1980 – shot to the top of both the UK Top 40 and the Billboard Hot 100. Its follow-up, “Rapture,” also broke new ground. A hypnotic hybrid of disco, funk, and New York’s emerging hip-hop scene, the song featured an extended rap from Debbie Harry, who namechecked hip-hop pioneers Fab Five Freddy and Grandmaster Flash.

“Rapture” also topped the Billboard Hot 100 and received numerous critical plaudits, but while “Autoamerican“, which was released on November 14th, 1980, fared well on the charts, it was greeted with less than sparkling reviews. These days, forward-thinking music fans would welcome a record which so brazenly pushes the envelope, but, in 1980, contemporary critics struggled to get a handle on this mind-bogglingly diverse disc, which concluded with a heartfelt cover of Lerner & Loewe’s “Follow Me,” from the musical Camelot.

Divorced from the times, though, “Autoamerican” has come into its own. In an interview on Blondie’s website, drummer Clem Burke enthusiastically cited it as “my favourite… it’s a very eclectic album”.

  • Deborah Harry – vocals
  • Chris Stein – guitar, tympani
  • Jimmy Destri – piano, organ, synthesizer, background vocals
  • Frank Infante – guitar, background vocals
  • Nigel Harrison – bass, background vocals
  • Clem Burke – drums, background vocals


Blondie didn’t just leap with 1978’s “Parallel Lines”; they went into hyperdrive. As one of the early progenitors of the highly influential NYC punk scene, singer Debbie Harry and guitarist Chris Stein ditched the grime and grit and embraced what would become their own signature brand of glossy power pop and disco-tinged new wave — you know, the stuff that wound up shaping the next decade. “Heart of Glass”, the album’s state-of-the-art third single, was a total game-changer for the outfit, welding European electronica with Harry’s natural falsetto.

When Blondie went into New York’s famed Record Plant studios in June 1978 they were allocated 6 months to record their third studio album. Six weeks later, producer Mike Chapman deemed the job done and Parallel Lines was born.

Following on from their punk-meets-new-wave sound, Parallel Lines was a more focused and deliberate effort than their previous two albums, despite the band’s best efforts to achieve otherwise. With the central focus of Chapman behind the boards, he led the band to push themselves musically and at times beyond their own musical abilities. The result was an album that came to define pure post-punk pop. And Blondie’s days as a charmed underground group out of New York were numbered, as a larger world would open up to them on the heels of its release.

When Blondie started work on their third album, Parallel Lines, in the summer of 1978, they were an under-the-radar New Wave band with a nostalgic bent toward the girl-group sounds of the ’60s. They were in an entirely different position when they began recording their next album, “Eat to the Beat, less than a year later.  Kicking off with the rocking stalking anthem of “Hanging on the Telephone” (a Jack Lee cover) Debbie Harry delivers her strongest vocals to date, inhabiting the song with a sweet yet dangerous delivery.

Harry’s persona grows with the uber catchy “One Way or Another” with its signature guitar hook and sweet boppy beat that underscores the threat and menace on display in the lyrics. the obsessed jilted lover, Harry was taunting and preening with jealousy like a pro. With every line, Harry grows in strength and showcases the power needed to front an all-male band in the late ‘70s (and be taken seriously). Completing the opening trio of pop perfection, the band shifts gears with the lovelorn promise of “Picture This.” Amidst swirling guitar riffs and a classic backbeat by drummer Clem Burke, the song mixes early rock nostalgia with a burning sexuality and does so while still remaining sugary sweet.

After its release in fall 1978, Parallel Lines shot up the charts, reaching No. 1 in the U.K. and the Top 10 in the U.S. thanks to the powerhouse appeal of the single “Heart of Glass,” which went to No. 1 across the planet, including the U.S. The song added another influence to the band’s range of musical styles. So, when the six-member Blondie, led by singer Debbie Harry, entered the studio in their hometown of New York City as spring turned to summer in 1979, they pretty much followed the template of the record that rocketed them to stardom the previous year. That meant some New Wave, a little pop, a throwback or two to their punk roots and, of course, more disco. And then they took it even further.

Harry, who co-wrote eight of the new album’s songs, was thrust into the spotlight following “Parallel Lines” success. She became the focal point of the group and was often characterized by unknowing Top 40 fans as a solo artist named Blondie. Even though their publicity department stressed the issue — going as far as declaring “Blondie is a band” in press releases — getting casual music fans who knew them from only “Heart of Glass” to acknowledge there were five other people making the music was often an uphill battle.

This musical growth is evident on the modern torch song of “Fade Away and Radiate,” the pulsing driven beat of “I Know But I Don’t Know” with its borderline psychedelic melody, and the urgent rock swing of “11:59.”

Even the album’s filler songs such as “Just Go Away” and “Will Anything Happen” rival the hits on other band’s albums of the era. And then there’s the bouncy pop of “I’m Gonna Love You Too” and “Sunday Girl” that present a softer, more playful side to Blondie’s sound, But the game changer of the album, and for the band, was the soon to be disco anthem “Heart of Glass.” To a bubbling drum machine and strutting open hi-hat beat, the production on “Heart of Glass” is flawless. From the soft and subtle (at first) blipping synth line and slow sweeps, Blondie boldly stepped from the grimy stages of New York’s clubs to the dance floors of thriving discos.

Loved, and also hated, for producing a “disco” song, Blondie held fast to their belief of writing a great song befitting of the pop and r&b influences that appeared—perhaps less obviously—in their earlier recordings. Parallel Lines is the album of a band (somewhat reluctantly) finding its sound. It became the album that sprang them forward and launched them onto the world stage, and would form the blueprint for their subsequent efforts. It remains a perfect encapsulation of Blondie in their prime, focused on superior songcraft and musicianship. Whilst producer Chapman may have pushed them to beyond their creative breaking point, the result ensured an album that stands the test of time.

When they reconvened in the studio to make Eat to the Beat, Blondie were still working hard on that band dynamic. All six members contributed songs to the album in one form or another and, along with returning producer Mike Chapman, were determined to not rest on Parallel Lines’ laurels. Eat to the Beat sounds like a follow-up, but not a sequel. And that’s no small achievement.

From the start, Blondie didn’t quite fit in with the punk groups they were often associated with. They were poppier and more melodic. And they didn’t seem like they wanted to save the world — or burn it down, for that matter. So the disco explosion that was “Heart of Glass” sounded natural, an effortless offshoot from their downtown art-punk roots. A small step, but an integral part of Blondie’s story. As producer Chapman noted in the album’s 2001 reissue, tensions were high during the recording, stemming from increased drug use among various members. But Harry also began to assume more control, outlining a vision for the album that included the usual mix of pop, punk, disco, New Wave and even R&B-inflected songs.

Blondie will release a new EP and concert film, “Blondie: Vivir En La Habana”both centering around the band’s 2019 debut performance in Cuba. The film will premiere in June at the Sheffield Doc/Fest, and the EP will follow on July 16th.

In 2019, Blondie were invited to perform in Havana as part of a four-day cultural exchange event through the Cuban Ministry of Culture. It was the group’s first time playing in the country, and, ahead of the trip, drummer Clem Burke noted they were eager to make the most of their time there.

“We’re hoping to try to sort of semi-integrate ourselves into the community and maybe do some performances and jamming prior to the official concerts for the local community,” he told Rolling Stone magazine at the time. “I really don’t know what to expect other than there’s a common denominator when you’re playing music. If possible, maybe we’ll do a drum circle or some kind of musical communication, which is always a great field leveller.”

“Being from New York City, we were fortunate that it’s a melting pot of musical ideas, nationalities, ethnicities and cultures,” added singer Debbie Harry, noting that Latin and Caribbean music had always been a significant influence for the band. “It doesn’t seem so far-fetched that we would adopt some of those feelings into what we do.”

The documentary’s director, Rob Roth, immediately knew it was a one of a kind moment.  “When this opportunity came up I could not imagine not documenting it,” he said in a statement “I knew it was going to be special somehow…we managed to pack in some really beautiful moments.”

“We had wonderful Cuban musicians join us for the performances – vocalists, percussionists, horn players … they added a terrific level of excitement to our songs, ” Harry said of the performances. “On ‘The Tide Is High’, Síntesis vocalists Ele Valdés and Maria del Carmen Avila sang with me and did the original harmonies that John Holt had put on the song; it was incredibly beautiful.”

In 2019, the legendary American rock band Blondie performed for the first time in Havana, Cuba as part of a cultural exchange through the Cuban Ministry of Culture. Directed by Rob Roth.

Even though The Empty Hearts band features members of BlondieThe Cars, Chesterfield Kings and The Romantics — as well as being christened by Little Steven Van Zandt from his super-secret list of unused band names — this is no cynically constructed super group. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame drummer Clem Burke, two-time Grammy nominee and MTV Video of the Year Award-winning guitarist Elliot Easton, bassist Andy Babiuk and lead singer/rhythm guitarist Wally Palmar have parlayed a combined lifetime of rock ’n’ roll into their music, a sterling collection of influences that include ‘50s American roots rock ‘n’ roll, ‘60s British Invasion and ‘70s garage-punk that is anything but retro, rather a refreshing return to core musical values.

These are all friends that I felt could get along both socially and musically,” says long time Chesterfield Kings bassist Babiuk, who started the ball rolling by calling old-time pal, Romantics’ singer Palmar and asking if he wanted to start a band. “Remember when you first picked up a guitar because you loved The Beatles, The Stones and The Kinks? Wouldn’t it be great to get in a room, write songs and play them like we did when we were teenagers? And that’s just how it started.” Blondie drummer Burke had previously played with Palmar in The Romantics and with Easton on several Blondie sessions and in an aborted band featuring Doug Fieger. Easton and Palmar knew Babiuk from frequent stops at his former employer, Rochester’s legendary House of Guitars, before Andy started his own guitar store, the ultra-hip Fab Gear.

All four came of age in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s in indie punk/new wave bands that demonstrated a love of classic rock and roll. “We’re the last rock band standing,” laughs Easton. “The whole idea is to have a blast playing with friends. We were just laughing and in high spirits all the time. No drama. It was just a lot of fun, and you can hear that in the grooves.” “Those common influences are what brought us together,” adds Burke. “We’re survivors and lifers of rock ‘n’ roll. We take from everything that’s come before musically. A lot of people have never heard or seen a band like this. There’s a freshness to it, at the same time as it’s a recollection of the past. Being a rock musician today is like being a jazz musician back in the early days of rock.”


Clem Burke – DRUMS, VOCALS
 Andy Babiuk – BASS, VOCALS

Released August 28th, 2020


From 1976 to 1982  Deborah ‘Debbie’ Harry, her partner Chris Stein, Clem Burke, Jimmy Destri and Gary Valentine (there would be occasional line-up alterations) pioneered a pathway that began in New York’s new wave and punk environs. With each passing album, they expanded their horizons, sensed the beginnings of rap and embryonic hip hop and finally emerged as an act that could swing from polished disco to the highest grade of pure pop. On albums like “Plastic Letters”, “Parallel Lines” and “Eat to the Beat”, Harry got inside the self-conscious facade of pop and inhabited the world of the urban heroines she sang about. She was the era’s ‘It’ girl, the poster babe who gave the group their name when the others noticed passing truckers hailing her ‘Hey Blondie!’ But she was also beyond pin-up.

Blondie are one of the most successful legacy acts to come out of the mid-70s New York punk-club circuit. Born in a basement on Bowery in 1974, guitarist Chris Stein joined Debbie Harry’s early band the Stillettoes and the two would become lifelong creative partners. Together with keyboardist Jimmy Destri, drummer Clem Burke and bass player Gary Valentine, Blondie took the indie pop playbook and ripped it to shreds. Blondie were more successful in Europe and Australia than their hometown where their status was jealously guarded. Yet they couldn’t be tied down: they grew up with a love for pop history and wanted to make their own. Their singles were trailblazers; slices of pure plastic passion and the rest of the media fell into place.

Their roots lie in The Stilettos who operated in a post-New York Dolls environment, the Manhattan bar rock equivalent of British pub rock. Stein and Harry (she’d played in a folk group called The Wind in the Willows in the very late sixties) named themselves Angel and the Snakes but once that became Blondie everything else fell into place.

A musical paradox to critics and audiences alike, they stayed fit by running through various genre exercises on every album, always keeping you guessing. From underground punk act to new wave cool to alt-pop, they helped catalyze the pop revival, all while maintaining a level of enigmatic cool and downtown attitude that’s been copied by countless bands since. The debut album, “Blondie”, was released on the  independent Private Stock. 

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Richard Gottehrer producer of Blondie’s first two albums, Blondie and Plastic Letters had left his former label and was looking to put out a compilation of bands in the New York scene. Blondie had earned their punk stripes gigging at Max’s Kansas City and then CBGB’s and Gottehrer snatched them up, signing them to the indie label Private Stock and releasing their self-titled debut, Blondie in 1976. Not successful at first Blondie were snapped up by Chrysalis who reactivated the disc and put out a revised single – ‘Rip Her To Shreds’ and ‘X-Offender’ – whose video (the promo format was in its infancy) was a big hit Down Under. Meanwhile, the radio picked up on strong tracks like ‘Man Overboard’ and ‘In The Flesh’, both featuring vocal backups from Ellie Greenwich, the woman who discovered Neil Diamond and wrote classics hits for Phil Spector’s girl groups. In that sense, Blondie covered the bases. Evidently, they understood how to give past sounds and production values a modern twist and that made them a more reassuring proposition.

Representing Klein’s encyclopedic knowledge of cultural relics from the past, the album riffed on everything from B-movies, rockabilly culture, and most noticeably girl groups. From the very first track of “X Offender,” Debbie Harry does her best Shangri-Las impression except instead of singing about teenage romance, she’s singing about a cop and a sex worker – truly a love song for the times. Singing subverted teenage love songs at age 31 is just the kind of tongue-in-cheek appeal that made Harry such a charismatic frontwoman. Hailed as a new wave ingénue with looks to kill, Harry was too campy and too pop for the underground scene, they didn’t know what to make of her.

As much as the Ramones are given credit for subverting 60s pop and rock, Blondie is just as much responsible for making girl groups sound tragically hip. The album also spurned the group’s first hit, “In the Flesh” which first charted at No. 2 in Australia, which was another homage to the girl group sound but with more lustful undertones. While the record spawned many of their live favourites, it never cracked the charts in a major way.

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Plastic Letters 

While Private Stock was certainly a truly independent label, it wasn’t exactly the place to cultivate an “indie” sound. As soon as they signed to Chrysalis Records in 1977, the label reissued the first album and a year later they released their real breakthrough record, Plastic Letters.  With Gottehrer on producing duties, the album once again reconfigured the 60s sound. Their cover of Randy & The Rainbows “Denis” flipped the gender script and officially broke the band commercially in the UK. As Gottehrer put it, “Debbie sang part of it in French – I didn’t even know if the French was real, but it became their first hit in the UK. 

The Second album Plastic Letters was an instant hit and after hitting the UK’s top ten it would eventually go Platinum. Not hard to see why. Pop genius shone throughout.  ‘(I’m Always Touched by Your) Presence Dear’ (a parting gift from bassist Valentine) whose old school title couldn’t disguise a number that pointed to the band’s dance future. Meanwhile, the lesser-known cuts like the headline steal ‘Youth Nabbed As Sniper’ and ‘Contact in Red Square’ showed Stein and Destri adopting a cut-up lyrical method. The remaster is especially worthwhile since it includes the first known demo of future smash ‘Heart of Glass’ from 1975, even then known as ‘The Disco Song’

Like many of Blondie’s best songs, even the album title had double meaning, describing venue marquees and how your name is spelled out on a mugshot. While most of “Plastic Letters” shows a band perfecting their pop sound, “I’m On E” sounds almost like a call back to their low-fi, proto-punk sound and Harry’s coolly detached vocals. In the same vein, “Detroit 442” sounds like sped-up surf rock scuzz that channels a certain Stooges’ lust for life. The album also marked their first foray into reggae; with “Once I Had A Love” (AKA the Disco Song) that was later repacked and sped up for the chart-topping hit “Heart Of Glass.”

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Parallel Lines

Even with a few hits on their hands, Blondie were regarded as an underground band in the states until the release of their piece de la resistance “Parallel Lines” in 1978. While “Heart of Glass” would prove to be a major turning point for the band, it doesn’t even come up on the record until the 10th track.

It’s preceded by a few solid new wave covers including an infectiously catchy take on follow pop punks The Nerves “Hangin On The Telephone,” which once again takes on new meaning when flipped to the female perspective. Then there’s the driving guitars and Harry’s taunting vocals on “One Way Or Another,” now one of their most recognizable hits, which paved the way for many a band in the early noughties like the Strokes and the rest of their ilk. With hooks to die for and a knowing immersion in classic pop culture now replaced the last vestiges of art-rock. The album sold 20 million copies and contains a string of hits “ ‘Picture This’, ‘Hanging on the Telephone’, ‘Heart of Glass’, ‘Sunday Girl’ and ‘One Way or Another’. For anyone else, this would be a Greatest Hits. It remains a five-star event and is generally considered to be the moment when the USA finally ‘got’ the whole new wave thing. In that regard, Blondie opened the doors for an entire invasion. It’s worth noting too that ‘Heart of Glass’ signalled another sea change since it adapted rhythms from Kraftwerk and the Bee Gees long before anyone else would. The Deluxe Collector’s Edition includes Harry’s French-language vamp on ‘Sunday Girl’, excellent chanson, and stellar club remixes of which the dance floor take on ‘Fade Away’ and ‘Radiate’ makes it worth the price of admission alone. A seriously recommended investment.

The architect behind all these hits was producer Mark Chapman, who was recruited to clean up their sound and put Blondie through production boot camp. “Once I Had A Love” was reworked and rebooted, using synth stylings inspired by Kraftwerk and Giorgio Moroder, a drum beat cribbed from Saturday Night Fever by Clem Burke, and “Heart of Glass” was born. As Burke told Uncut Magazine, “Disco was the back-drop to punk rock. When you went out, they weren’t playing Iggy And The Stooges. They were playing disco records.”

The architect behind all these hits was producer Mark Chapman, who was recruited to clean up their sound and put Blondie through production boot camp. “Once I Had A Love” was reworked and rebooted, using synth stylings inspired by Kraftwerk and Giorgio Moroder, a drum beat cribbed from Saturday Night Fever by Clem Burke, and “Heart of Glass” was born. As Burke told Uncut Magazine, “Disco was the back-drop to punk rock. When you went out, they weren’t playing Iggy And The Stooges. They were playing disco records.”

Despite the Herculean task of narrowing down the essential tracks from this album full of gems, “Sunday Girl” is another standout, a piece of sweet pop perfection that sounds ever sweeter in French. Parallel Lines became a multi-platinum album that dragged punk into the mainstream kicking and screaming or as producer Mike Chapman called it just “modern rock and roll.”

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“Eat to the Beat” 

Blondie retained what some called their romantic fatalism for the equally successful “Eat to the Beat” (1979), spending a year on the US charts and hitting number one in Britain. Chapman now moved Blondie to The Power Plant in New York and was encouraged by Stein’s decision to incorporate the group towards reggae, funk and rap. The hits keep on coming: ‘Dreaming’, ‘Union City Blue’, ‘The Hardest Part’, ‘Call Me’ and ‘Atomic’.

Resistance was futile. Blondie had gone from club to cult to underground to word of mouth and were now the mainstream’s new big thing. The songs weren’t just great they had back-stories. ‘Atomic’ was a weird Spaghetti Western hybrid and ‘Call Me’ arrived via Harry’s collaboration with Giorgio Moroder on an idea he had called Man Machine. The finished song was used as the main title piece in the hit movie American Gigolo and became the group’s biggest-ever single.

As Blondie continued to set the bar impossibly high for themselves, “Eat to the Beat”, released in 1979, saw the group continue to experiment with styles and deliver the same side-eyed attitude with an emotional core. Chris Klein has admitted the track is essentially an homage to ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” and yet even this is eclipsed by “Atomic,” a no holds-bar disco dance rock song with cowboy guitar riffs that still has the power to move bodies instantly. The record had its tender moments as well, especially on songs like “Shayla” that featured Blondie at its most vulnerable.

“Autoamerican” and “American Gigolo”

“Autoamerican” (1980, recorded in Los Angeles) is another very cool diversion – Blondie’s ‘serious’ album. Themes including car culture and the polarity of the East and West Coast informed some material but there’s nothing tough to listen to, only more ravishing beauty in the shape of their reggae cover, ‘The Tide is High’, and the funk rock, jazz and rap of ‘Rapture’, a real ear-opener then and now. The lovely sax break is from Tom Scott and that’s Turtles Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman on ‘T-Birds’, written by Englishman Nigel Harrison (a recent recruit) and Debbie wearing her Californian hat.

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Blondie always reflected the subcultures of downtown New York and by the time the 80s rolled around, disco and punk were now giving way to new musical movements like hip-hop. Debbie Harry isn’t going to win a freestyle Olympics anytime soon but Blondie earned themselves a lifetime of goodwill in the hip-hop community for putting rap into a mainstream pop song and bringing the influence of Grandmaster Flash and the Fab Five Freddy to the rest of the world with their hit “Rapture.”

“Rapture” was the first and only “rap” track to hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, that is until “Ice Ice Baby” in 1990. Even for a band whose reputation lies in experimentation, “Autoamerican” was still considered a conceptual album for Blondie. First rap on “Rapture” then ska and rocksteady on their cover of The Paragons’ hit “The Tide is High” and another disco hit with “Call Me,” co-written by then the world’s top disco producer, Giorgio Moroder. Written for the “American Gigolo” soundtrack, it oozed 80s excess and went on to be the biggest-selling single of 1980 in the US.

The Hunter 

After Autoamerican, Blondie struggled to find its footing in the 80s, with band infighting, personal health issues, and the rest. In 1981, Harry has also started her solo career and the band released their last album until 1999, The Hunter. 1982 would be Blondie’s last album of new material for five years and is loosely a concept. Although it marked the end of Blondie’s first era as a global pop fixture The Hunter is studded with great songs, albeit with an atmosphere of change in the ranks. ‘For Your Eyes Only’ was pitched as the theme song for the Bond film but it was the calypso-tinged ‘Island of Lost Souls’ and the stark ‘War Child’, written about unrest in the Middle East and Cambodia that got the airplay. Other goodies are hidden within; there’s a fabulous version of Smokey Robinson‘s’The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game’ and some of Harry’s most refined lyricism on ‘Orchid Club’, ‘Dragonfly’ and the Beatles lament, ‘English Boys’, written with John Lennon’s death in mind.

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Aside from the usual bonus cuts on the main body of albums, there are terrific collections to sample. “Atomic: The Very Best Of Blondie”Singles Collection: 1977 – 1982 and “Desperately Seeking Susan: The Original Blondie Hits”, are invaluable sources for commercial material, fantastic oddities and rare items. “Blondie at the BBC” offers great radio sessions.

The live albums “Live: Philadelphia 1978/Dallas 1980″ and “Picture This Live” capture this extraordinary group at the height of their powers.

Suffice to say that the best of Blondie never fades away. Pop music doesn’t get any better than this lot. Blondie struggled to find its footing in the 80s, with band infighting, personal health issues, and the rest. In 1981, Harry has also started her solo career and the band released their last album until 1999, After years 17 years of absence-driven speculation, the band regrouped and released their comeback album, “No Exit”, in 1999. With plenty of alt-rock riffs and ska/reggae songs that fit right in with what other bands like Garbage and No Doubt had been doing in their absence, Blondie returned to reclaim their throne.

Blondie in the 2000s

While it’s hard to play catch-up after such a lengthy sabbatical, the band bounced back with the guitar-driven hit “Maria” written by keyboardist Jimmy Destri, which charted in the UK. While No Exit aimed to recapture the cultural zeitgeist of the late 90s, The Curse Of Blondie was faced with the same challenge in 2003. After signing to Sony internationally, Blondie set its claim on the electro-pop landscape with “Good Boys,” which found the band “riding on the L til the sun comes up again.”

A decade into the new millennium found the band navigating the uncertain waters of nu-wave on their 2011 album, Panic of Girls and Blondie 4(0)-Ever: Greatest Hits Deluxe Redux/Ghosts of Download in 2013, which combined a remastering of their best songs and a dance punk album with special guests. As Blondie head into the studio once again, it’s remarkable how resilient the band are and their drive to continually reinvent themselves.

Blondie will always be a retro-modernist band who craft clever pop songs with a seedy underbelly. They helped to create the blueprint for what we know as modern pop rock and they did it with style, wit, and bravado – all while looking like they didn’t give a damn.

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Originally released on Animal Records in 1982 and produced by Chris Stein of Blondie, “Zombie Birdhouse” is something of a lost classic. This album may just be Iggy’s Morrison Hotel; like that Doors classic, Zombie Birdhouse takes an almost novelistic look at the character of America that is by turns funny and angry, reverential and irreverent. It’s filled, too, with an almost mystical primitivism that brings out the shaman in Iggy’s soul. Throughout, Iggy’s collaborator, guitarist-keyboardist Rob duPrey, manages to produce some fascinating noise by altering, filtering and treating his instruments. A heady concoction of drones, Afrobeats and freeform lyrics, the album was Iggy’s 6th solo studio album and represents him at his freewheeling best.Chris Stein and Clem Burke of Blondie provide the exotic rhythmic spice that seasons this record to perfection. The sleeve notes have been written by long time Iggy fan Irvine Welsh.

A visual for lead single ‘The Villagers’ is unveiled as a taster of the album,

The reissue of Zombie Birdhouse has been remastered by Paschal Byrne at The Audio Archive, London. It features the singles ‘Run Like A Villain’ and ‘The Villagers’ along with rare photographs from the original photo-shoot by Esther Friedman.

The CD edition is Expanded with the addition of a Bonus Track in the form of the original version of Pain and Suffering, which features fellow Blondie band member Debbie Harry on backing vocals. The song was originally recorded for the ground-breaking animated feature film, Rock and Rule (Iggy provided the voice of the Monster From Another Dimension and Debbie Harry the voice for the character, Angel) but the OST was never released.