Monday, March 7, 2016

ABCs of My Vinyl Collection (Letter B, Part 8)

Blondie's heyday was a little bit before my time, but I feel like Debbie Harry has been in my consciousness forever. I have three vivid memories of seeing Blondie on television when I was a pup. The first time was on a Saturday afternoon in 1979 when Harry lip-synced to "Heart of Glass" on "American Bandstand." I was a completely smitten nine year old. A couple of years later, I remember her moving her mouth to "The Tide is High" (without a musical instrument in sight but with an army of dancers) one Saturday evening on a horrible show called "Solid Gold." My parents were out, and there was a babysitter in the house named Patti. She had a good laugh watching the back of my head because my face was about six inches from the screen. Not long after that I saw the clip for "Rapture" on a show called "Video Jukebox." My town didn't get MTV until 1983, and that HBO program was one of my saviors, but that's a story for another day. Point is, I can remember each of these moments so well 35 years later because once you see Blondie it's impossible to forget.

Blondie was so cool that they were one of those rare bands that could be a unifier. That babysitter Patti was kind of a bad girl from the wrong side of the tracks, but she liked Blondie. I had an older cousin that was into metal, but he liked Blondie. Those vapid dancing Valley kids on "American Bandstand" went wild for Blondie. If I had been into Blondie at CBGB in 1976, perhaps I wouldn't have been happy for Blondie and their success, but it seemed like most walks of life were into Blondie.

When I have a few minutes or I'm making a mix tape, I will usually go for one of the older songs, such as "X Offender" or "Denis." I like the Spector-like girl-group vibe mixed with new wave. If I have time to put on the headphones and listen to an album, I almost always go with 'Parallel Lines.' There were some monster hits after that, but I have always seen that album as Blondie's peak. By followup 'Eat to the Beat,' producer Mike Chapman tells tales of drugs and fighting in the studio, but great singles were spawned anyway, and today's pick was a nearly perfect piece of pop. I love the line "dreaming is free." Drummer Clem Burke must have had a blast with this one. It has a live sound because that's how it was recorded in the studio. Chris Stein has said he ripped off ABBA's "Dancing Queen." Perhaps I should give those Swedes a go because "Dreaming" remains a big smile to this day.

"Dreaming"

11 comments:

The Swede said...

Now you're talking Brian - Poptastic!

drew said...

Dreaming and Union City Blue are my favourites. Her answer to the line " you asked me what's my pleasure, a movie or a measure" always kind of disappointed me when I was young. " I'll have a cup of tea" aye right? Debbie Harry didn't look like a tea drinker to me

charity chic said...

As the Swede said - a great pop band

Echorich said...

I was one of those CBGB's/Max's kids (sure I shouldn't have been anywhere near those clubs at 15, but it was the 70's in NYC and no one cared) and Blondie was part of my Rock & Roll Hymnal. But they got to big for me after Eat To The Beat and it was never quite the same again for me.

Judge Pop said...

Wendy's favourite song and she love the line about the 'cup of tea' too.

kevinpat said...

Unfortunately and fortunately I am old enough to have fortunately spent a few night (and an afternoon or two) in CBGBs. Unfortunately it wasn't Blondie I saw. (Some other band they had playing called the Ramones or something like that.) But I did get to see Blondie at the Wollman Skating Rink one summer evening for $4 a pop. At that time I was working a job where I had to travel from one building to another during lunch. Eat to the Beat was the cassette of choice. Didn't like the job but loved that perk. Although I love all my Blondie that also is my favorite. Loud, in the car, moving. And "Dreaming" of course is the Wall of Sound tour de force. Damn New York music! "You could tell I was no debutante." Hahahahaha. Always tongue in cheek. And yes, after that Blondie got weak. But they did bounce back and "Maria" rivals anything from their past. Their last few albums brought the band back together to reclaim their glory and just have fun. Worth checking out. And that #^%ing drummer!! Good grief, he's good!!!!! Ha! Clem Burke. Whew!

Brian said...

Drew, Union City Blue is a favorite of mine too. Has held up very well. It might surprise you that the song was never released as a single here in America. Got all the way to No. 2 in the UK.

Echorich, We are cut from the same cloth. I would have had a hard time seeing Blondie on Bandstand after CBGB. You can't see me, but I'm bowing in your direction... again. As for the discography, I think most of us would agree there was a drop off after Eat to the Beat, even if the charts said otherwise. A whopping three No. 1 singles after that album. Amazing.

Kevinpat, That is quite a tale, and we are all happy you shared that one. I imagine you and Echorich would have a few things to talk about if you met at a bar. Love Maria too, as you may remember from the '90s countdown, but that seems like ages ago already.

Judge Pop, I could imagine Wendy singing that line. Beautiful. A cover, perhaps?

Thanks for chiming in, CC and Swede. We all seem to be in agreement on this one. Maybe Perhaps George can break the string.

Echorich said...

Kevpat got it in one. I loved Parallel Lines and Plastic Letters, but Eat To The Beat is rewarding start to finish. It's Blondie firing on all cylinders. Dreaming opens with one of the greatest drum intros in pop history. Shayla is otherworldly. Union City Blue is the song Ronnie Spector never got to record - it's Chris Stein's Wall Of Sound. Atomic is every teenage boy's fantasy come true in 4 minutes and 40 seconds. Eat To The Beat and Victor are pure NYC downtown garage rock freak out and still sound fresh and vibrant 37 years later.

Misterprime said...

'Parallel Lines' was the first album I ever bought. I've still got the tape, too....

Dirk said...

They're all good, mind you, even 'AutoAmerican' has its moments ...

kevinpat said...

Echorich ~ True dat!!! Ha. We speak the same language. And of course, "I'm Not Living in the Real World" at which point the band ends that tour de force with a mic drop. Bang! I feel vindicated knowing there's love out there for ETTB and not my imagination. Sometimes "I talk to me. I even agree." Because.......you know what comes next...I'm not living in the real world. Yay! Blondie. Yay! Brian. Happy day y'all!