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Blondie Song Reviews


Blondie (1976)

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Blondie

X-Offender 9.5/10

I know exactly what the "X-Offender" is. It's everybody who spells "thanks" like "thanx." And that's probably what they were singing about, too! (OK, not really --- I think you know what the X really stands for --- it's "sex." The rebels!!) This is a bright, bouncy and poppy song with beautiful, slick sounds with a rapid and thoroughly danceable beat. This is unmistakably new wave when you compare it to later groups that would emerge like The Cars. The melody is catchy, and the development is diverse and excellent. Who's not to like smart music like this?

Little Girl Lies 9/10

This isn't far behind the previous song as far as sheer enjoyability goes. The song is probably even more new-wave oriented than the previous track. (Notice the rapidly played organ that reminds me so much of the B-52s.) I love the sound and texture of this song, but it's not perfect --- it's a tad sloppy on the instrumental front. The bubble gum melody is catchy!

In the Flesh 8/10

This retro doo-wop song doesn't do much to promote their new wave music --- but at least it has that same "return to basics" attitude that ushered in that movement in the first place. The melody is OK, but it's not that memorable. (Well I find it memorable because I've listened to this album three dozen times at least, but that's a different story.) It's enjoyable and well conceived, but it's quite a bit blander than the rest.

Look Good in Blue 9/10

Here is a unique song. I would never have realized that it was a sped-up tango if that wasn't pointed out to me! The rhythm is bouncy thanks to that thump-thump-thump in that piano. This melody is probably one of the catchiest from the whole album. A few nice touches here and there constitute some spaced-out synthesizer noises peppered here and there, and a nice electric guitar solo.

In the Sun 8/10

The distinctive new wave sound is here but it's not so enjoyable in this instance. Obviously, from the first moment in the song when Debbie Harry screams "surf's up!," this is simply a sped-up version of a surf song. The surface gloss is as nice as it has always been. The problem comes with the melody, which isn't memorable at all, and I hate to say that the arrangements aren't that compelling either.

A Shark in Jets Clothing 8/10

This send up of The West Side Story is a fun, poppy and a worthy toe-tapper if there ever was one. The melody is fairly bland, though, and what's a pop song without such a catchy melody? Anyway the instrumentals keep this fresh sounding enough --- a few keyboard fills in particular are fun to hear. The end is interesting --- It's a little bit pompous (and there's your definitive proof that this isn't punk music) but it's much more appreciated than a fade-out.

Man Overboard 9/10

They didn't write enough notes for the lyrics, so it sounds like Debbie's singing "Man of War." But anyway, this is one of the more spirited songs of the album, and it shows. The song has a lot of attitude! It's also slightly disco-ish (proof #234,323,493 that this isn't punk music), and that's what makes this so much fun. The melody is alright and the groove is OK, but the instrumentation is the shining star. That ending where they sort of fizzle everything out in a psychedelic sense was done really well. These guys were awesome.

Rip Her to Shreds 9.5/10

This R&B send-up turns out to be one of the most infectious songs from the album! The tempo isn't any faster than a regular R&B tune, but the instrumentation surely is different. Using more of those slicked-up synthesizers, and they even change around the texture (including those rapidly played chords that's characteristic of the genre). This is extremely entertaining!!

Rifle Range 9.5/10

Another absolutely stellar tune! This one uses a riff that sounds a bit like it's from a spaghetti western (for whatever irrational reason), and it's a catchy one. All of that is incorporated in Blondie's usual brand of slick pop music that always makes this so much fun to hear. This is arguably the slickest and most focused song of the whole lot.

Kung Fu Girl 8.5/10

This song is a little bit of a mess, but it's so much fun and goofy that any shortcomings it might have are verily ignored! The opening riff might not be exciting or catching whatsoever, but I can't name too many other songs that would so randomly break out into that classical music interlude. Also, the energy is undeniable and fairly sweeping.

The Attack of the Giant Ants 7.5/10

This track seems to work on giving a new face to Latin music. Not that it was a bad idea, but this is easily the least compelling work of the whole album. The riff isn't catchy whatsoever, and Debbie Harry just sings the same thing as the riff. They insert a bit of monster movie sound effects in the middle. It could be the most interesting aspect of this song! They sort of tumble through an odd sound collage at the very end that I don't very much feel like describing right now.

BONUS TRACKS

"Out on the Streets" is a '50s send-up, and it's not too bad. Even though it's a demo, I don't think the rest of the album had much "production" to it anyway. I like the melody although Harry's vocals sound like she's pretty bored with it.

"The Thin Line" is another demo. I don't like the melody much at all. Refining the instrumentation might have made this into a decent song. Were these ever produced? ... I don't think they were.

Was "Platinum Blonde" this supposed to be Deborah Harry's signature tune for their early live performances? Whether or not that's the case, this is pretty fun song. You'd think it'd be much more fun to see her sing this on video --- she seems to be sort of play-acting this based on what I hear from the audio!

This is just another version of "X Offender." The vocals sound more tinny.

Again, "In the Sun" is the same as the album version except the sound isn't as good.


Plastic Letters (1977)

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Plastic Letters

Fan Mail 9.5/10

What a neat beginning! It's a bit unexpected that they would start the album off with such a mid-tempoed song instead of something a little more raucous, but --- hey, this is a neat beginning! The first thing that strikes me about this is the production, which is about as good as it gets. Not just are the sounds crystal clear and involved, but they have these "whispy" sound effects during the interlude that were so expertly done! The end features Deborah Harry scream-singing "The bells are ringinnnnnngggg" to a crazy fade-out involving, appropriately, a myriad of bells ringing. What a lovely fade out! These guys just proved to me that they're expert arrangers. ... Through all of this, I forgot to mention the melody. Yeah, it's pretty good! It doesn't contain any especially deadly hooks, but it's all OK by my book. There are some synth and organ passages that are most prone to stick in your mind.

Denis 9/10

Their throwback to '50s music proving that they didn't abandon those awesome ideas they had in their debut album. I think you understand that I'm not the biggest fan of the melody, but I'm a much bigger fan of what they do with it. Their production standards continue to be a huge part of this song's enjoyment. The polished, constantly evolving textures and personable gimmicks such as that quirky synthesizer that pops up in the second half, make listening to this such an endless treat!!!

Bermuda Triangle Blues (Flight 45) 9.5/10

Wow, they don't even take it easy when they do their ballads. More of that excellent song production is here and stronger than ever. The development is shocking --- sometimes it's unexpectedly touching and other times it's unexpectedly turmulous. The moment right around the 1:47 mark comes off as magical. I'd like to especially point out those excited explosions with the organ was just about the most inspired thing I've ever heard from them! The ending's not so spectacular, but still. Sitting through it is quite an experience!!

Youth Nabbed As Sniper 8.5/10

It's funny that I'm giving such an upbeat and thunderous song a lower song score, but ... well this song just doesn't quite get to me like the others. Still, it's more fun than monkeys in a tree!! (And I think we *all* know how fun monkeys in a tree are.) This is their brand of rapidly played surf-rock with their thunderous drums and guitars. The song production continues to be well done not just for producing those slick sounds, but also that wavy synth going off in the background.

Contact in Red Square 8.5/10

Wow! Couldn't they play this any faster? Gosh, they sure know how to have fun with this. I'll also tell you what, I'm so close to awarding this track an A-level score. Maybe I should. The earlier review I wrote of this awarded it a higher rating! As you'd probably gather from the song title, they incorporate a very funny Russian-inspired section (fully equipped with uproars of "hey!!") If you must know, the one thing that's holding me back from giving this a higher score is that section around the one minute mark. I definitely value this group's willingness to adopt such crazy development in their compositions, but I think that part was just a tad clumsy... Yeah, I'm nitpicking ...

(I'm Always Touched By Your) Presence, Dear 10/10

Well, well well!!! A catchy melody! While I like Blondie's melodies earlier, this is the first one that really jumps out at me. The song production continues to be beautiful! The jangly guitars provide qutie a touching atmosphere even though their upbeat, new wave instrumentation might make you think that aim was disrupted somehow. You have to get a load of that strange guitar duet in the middle of this. It's half-bizarre ... half-inspired. How excellent! I have nothing to complain about this, and I can't do anything else but embrace it fully. These guys are complete masters at their arrangements --- these textures are just marvellous. Most prog bands can't even do that.

I'm On E 8.5/10

The melody is less enticing and so is the production. But I have absolutely no justification in complaining! As far as I can tell, this song invented the Go-Go's and that's definitely worth something. It's played with a continued degree of confidence and the speed is just C-R-A-Z-Y. I'm just going to ... go onto the next track ...

I Didn't Have the Nerve to Say No 9/10

Geez, they're not letting up, EVER, are they? This is another remarkable and fast-paced new wave song. Again, I absolutely adore their crystal clear arrangements and all of this unbridled spirit. There's all of that plus a tremendously catchy melody! How can you go wrong??

Love at the Pier 8.5/10

Geez, whenever Blondie comes up with an especially good melody, it really jumps out at you. Furthermore, this song has a nice swing to it that I love! Deborah Harry wrote this composition, and it's mostly recommendable thanks to those quirky touches in the instrumentaion. My biggest complaint is the bit toward the end when they slow down the meter, which really destroyed the inertia. But, at least it was great fun till then!

No Imagination 9/10

Are they going classical now? You can't claim that Blondie lacks diversity. There's a certain class to their chord progression that along with that piano work toward the beginning was such a nice touch. These guys so could have been a great prog-rock band. ...but they're too cool for that. Give me this song over Styx' "Sailing Away" any. freaking. day.

Kidnapper 8/10

Bring in the Elvis stylings!! What did I say about the diversity? Though I'd hate to say that this is easily one of the worst songs of the album. Other than the general novelty of hearing Blondie perform such a song, this one doesn't inspire me particularly. There's no personable quirk in the production other than Harry's particularly convincing "growl" in her vocal performance.

Detroit 442 9/10

Geez, here's something. Blondie goes heavy metal! Geez, they were awesome at everything they tried to do weren't they??? Yeah, that's pretty awesome!! These guys sound so freaking menacing here! That instrumentation is so busy and unique, and they create a wild texture that makes this more interesting than many bona fide metal songs. Harry sounds even more "growling" than she did on the previous track. Cool!!!

Cautious Lip 8/10

Geez, they sure have a tendency to end their albums on a relatively negative note, don't they? All that said, this song is still generally well done. It's more of a mid-tempo, alarming synth-scape thing. Their attempts to go particualrly "artsy" here don't go overlooked, but they're betraying the one thing that makes them thrive: Sprit. Plus, the melodic themes just aren't interesting whatsoever! That said, I will point out that the synthscape is pretty well done. Also, when they speed up the meter at the end to create some sort of murky mayhem, it's a blast!

BONUS TRACKS

An early version of "Heart of Glass" comes in the form of "Once I Had a Love (AKA the Disco Song)," and it's much slower. It's an interesting early version that'll ultimately just make you want to listen to the finish version again.

"Scenery" was a leftover from their debut album. It has a pretty nice hook although I think they made a good decision in axing it. With a little more production, though, this really could have turned into something spectacular! As it stands, though, it makes a good listen. Musically speaking, it's just a regular, mid-tempoed rock-pop song.

"Poet's Problem" was a B-side to "Presence, Dear," and it's quite good! It's a little sloppier than the album tracks, but that OK with me. It begins with some piano, and Harry starts to sing a sweet song of sorts. That drum is going all over the place doing whatever it wants along with most of the other instruments. Relatively speaking the band seem sort of half-conscious through the whole thing, but that's forgivable 'cos you'd kind of be worn out if you just came up with an album like Plastic Letters.

"Detroit 442 (live)" Usually live versions in bonus tracks are just messes, but this is supposed to be a mess, so it's therefore kinda cool. You can't hear Deborah Harry too well over those noisy guitars, but that's OK. It's a glorious mess!


Parallel Lines (1978)

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Parallel Lines

Hanging On The Telephone A

What an explosive beginning! It’s not an extremely hooky song, but this thing has such a beat and vibrant spirit that if it doesn’t get you tapping your toes, then you’re probably dead. It’s only a little over two minutes long, though it seems much longer than that. (Oh, that’s what listening to those early Beatles songs can be like!) Deborah Harry is at the heights of her vocal prowess; she’s belting out quite a snarl there.

One Way or Another A+

In a nutshell, this is the greatest song ever written. ....OK, I don’t mean that. I like “Heart of Glass” better. But as far as menacing pop-rockers go, you pretty much can’t get better than this. That riff is both catchy and has incredible amount of attitude in it, and Debbie’s voice has that amazing guttural quality to it. In fact, seeing that I’m a weak male, I find her vocals psychologically frightening!! Oooooooh!!!! They have quite a bit of fun with this... they bring in those choppy organ chords and there’s an overdub of Harry singing another melody. That’s an amazingly cool idea for a song that would have been great even without it.

Picture This A+

This is much more pleasant and far less detrimental to my weak-male psyche! Although if they keep coming out with great songs like this, I had just might as well go nuts. I’m supposed to go through these albums making fun of them, but there’s nothing here to make fun of. This is just immaculate pop music; there can be nothing finer. The melody is remarkable and instantly memorable, and the lusher instrumentation keeps it punchy.

Fade Away and Radiate A

Considering this is an incredibly highly regarded pop album, you might be surprised ... or maybe disgusted ... to hear such a song in it. It’s a much slower song that starts out being moody and rather apocalyptic. That siren noise, especially, gives it that dank atmosphere. But then Debbie comes in with a ‘50s-pop melody and the thing suddenly becomes incredible... especially in the middle when the mood picks up and they bring in a brief though thunderous electric guitar performance. And then the final minute they bring in those reggae chords... Maybe these guys were too creative!!

Pretty Baby A-

Yeah, there’s just a massive overload of good songs on Parallel Lines. These are so good that all the blood is rushing to my head! I guess I found a good enough excuse to give this an A- even though it might have been a solid A anywhere else. I suppose that middle-eight section is a little sparse and doesn’t click so perfectly with the rest of it. But seriously, where are you going to find such infectious pop melodies? These guys had fresh melodies like I have running water, it seems.

I Know But I Don’t Know A

Blondie wasn’t known for their punk songs, of course... But whoever wrote this came up with one of the meanest punk riffs ever! It’s too mean for this album, because they dress it up with all sorts of synthesizers! Well, that doesn’t detract from it at all... the texture is one of the reasons this song is so enjoyable, and the electric guitars providing some siren-like wails was mixed perfectly well into the mix. Pretty much everything about it is catchy. The vocals are interesting... the band mates sing this almost like a chant all behind Debbie, who is not particularly taking the lead. It’s sort of hard rock and pop-rock at the same time. Cool song!

11:59 A

I’m certain that I had each and every one of these songs stuck in my head at one point all these years that I’ve been listening to Parallel Lines. Blondie extracts another priceless melody in that incredible mine of theirs. More than that, this song has a fast pace and a really fabulous spirit. Perhaps this isn’t as complicated as the other songs, but it still has interesting song development (most notably how they work in those cool electric guitar riffs every once in awhile). Debbie’s vocals once again have that incredible snarl to it.

Will Anything Happen A-

Oh no! It’s the beginning of the end of Parallel Lines! This is a good song and not a great song. What will become of it?? This is the only song in this album that fails to actually captivate me in anyway. Maybe that ultra-pounding riff puts me off, and the song development comes off as a little clunkier than the other songs. Oh well... don’t dwell on it. What matters is that the melody is still catchy, and Debbie’s vocals have all the attitude that they’re supposed to have!

Sunday Girl A-

I used to think this was one of the best songs from the album, but now I find it to be overly simple compared to the other songs. The melody is very cutesy and probably repeats slightly too much compared to the other songs, although it’s still very infectious. Debbie’s high-register vocals here are rather sweet to hear. But this is just another wonderful pop-rock tune, isn’t it?

Heart of Glass A+

Oh wow! This is probably the greatest song ever written!! Of course, everybody knows this song by heart because you hear it everywhere, but don’t you just love it when it pops up on classic rock radio stations and supermarkets? I know I do! Perhaps it’s surprising that Blondie would have tried to make a disco song (considering that was incredibly uncool for bands like Blondie, which were considered “underground” just a year earlier), but it’s *not* surprising that they made a good one. The groove is probably pretty cliche, but these guys play it extremely well. And Debbie puts the high register of her vocals to good use. And the melody couldn’t possibly get more infectious!! GOOD SONG!

I’m Gonna Love You Too B+

This song’s melody doesn’t impress me a whole lot... The hooks seem very obvious and could have been written by almost anyone. But where they make up for it is that incredible fast pace... notably that rapidly played rhythm guitar is a particular treat. And, as usual, Debbie’s snarly vocals are a very tasty treat indeed. This isn’t a bad song, of course, but it does pale pretty extremely next to the others.

Just Go Away A

Do you know what I like best about this song? It’s that call-and-response thingy. The sequence lasts a few lines, but it ends with Debbie singing “Just go away!” and the rest of the band, like patients in a mental hospital sporting a fake British accent, call out “Goaw Away!” That’s just one of those unusual touches that make a song stick out above the crowd even more distinctly. And the song itself has yet another infectious melody. How on earth were they able to do all of that so well??? This is one of the greatest questions of modern science... I mean, such a pure supply of infectious melodies is very rare outside the context of The Beatles.

BONUS TRACKS:

I Once Had a Love (aka The Disco Song) A

This is an old demo version of “Heart of Glass.” Of course, being a demo, the sound quality isn’t nearly as good. But you do get to hear the intricacies of those incredible funk guitars they’re playing. They tend to get drowned out in the final cut.

Bang a Gong (Get it On) (Live) A-

This is a cover of the only T.Rex song that anybody seems to know. It was recorded just a year after Marc Bolan’s tragic accident, so I wonder if it was meant as some sort of tribute. (Or maybe they just felt like playing it ... it’s just that glam music doesn’t seem like their style.) But they do play it well, and it surely fits Harry’s snarls... although she does seem to give up on them after awhile. It does seem like five minutes was way too long for it, though.

I Know But I Don’t Know (Live) A-

So, these live versions just don’t compare with the studio cuts. The sound quality is an obvious complaint. The vocals are buried way too much in the mix, and the guitars seem too loud. The instrumental playing is tight, but it’s not as perfected as the studio version... And those synthesizers are just weird. I’m not actually complaining about it, though... The guitars do sound completely full of life! It’s just the sloppiness didn’t suit it so much.

Hanging on the Telephone (Live) A

It’s pretty much impossible to botch up this song live... that all I gotta say. All you need is a band to play that catchy riff and Deborah Harry’s incredible snarl. It’s even about the same size as the original version, which was just right.


Eat to the Beat (1979)

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Eat to the Beat

Dreaming B+

The first thing I want to do is compare how this album starts with the previous three Blondie albums, and it did seem a bit disappointing to me. I’m not caught up into it like I was in the other albums. It seems a little forced, for some reason. But anyway, this is a terribly good song. The melody is memorable and catchy, the loud and busy drumming is put to good effect. Deborah Harry’s voice seems very distant because there was some post-production done with her voice, which it really didn’t need. It’s an excellent pop song, but I don’t like it as much as some.

The Hardest Part A-

Blondie returns to the disco except it’s not the normal disco. It’s a disjointed disco! The only reason you would want to dance to it is if you’re a complete nerd. Those electronic embellishments are reminiscent of synth-pop, except they’re kept wisely in the background. On the foreground, of course, is that awesome, crispy rhythm section, and Harry’s voice, which doesn’t seem as over-processed as the previous track. In fact, she’s having fun singing it, I suspect!!

Union City Blue A

This is even better than the last song, and it’s nearly an A+. Oh how infectious this melody is! I can’t understand why the government would commission a song with the word “Union” in it, but then again it’s the government ... they know less about what they’re doing than we do! ... OK, for the last time, this song isn’t from the government. It’s just a catchy thing Blondie happened to write. This is a rather heavily orchestrated pop song with more of those over-processed vocals, and a vaguely disco beat.

Shayla B+

Not such a bad ballad. It’s much like their previous efforts where they borrowed plenty of ideas from ballads from the 1950s. It’s a pleasant song to listen to, and the melody was well written. All things considered, though, this is where the overproduction is starting to hurt things. Song production, in general, isn’t a bad thing; sometimes it’s necessary. I just think Blondie did this type of song better when they sounded rawer and more exciting. Listening to this is much like hearing them through a glass window instead of in the flesh like we used to.

Eat to the Beat A

This is a little more like it! They’re returning to some of those old punky roots with Harry’s voice giving all these wild, squeaky intonations. A very cool harmonica solo comes in the middle, which goes even more nuts than Harry. This isn’t really a good song to eat dinner to, or anything, but hey! I guess you could always try!

Accidents Never Happen B-

This song features a quickly pulsating bass guitar and a poppy new-wave drum while Harry sings rather sweetly over it. It’s a nicely done song and the melody is fine, but I played it over and over again and I still find it to be fairly uninspired. Nothing about it sticks out at me! Oh well...

Die Young Stay Pretty A-

What kind of message is that for the kids of today (1979)? That’s no way to conduct your given public status as role models, now is it? ... Oh wait, it’s a joke. Kids understand that. Alright. ... Oh, and they’re trying on some reggae for size, and it fits quite nicely! They had a trial run in “Fade Away and Radiate,” so I guess it was time to get the full registered version. The beat is nice, and Debbie sounds excellent. There is a really odd organ part in the middle and funny plastic machine gun noises all over the place, so it’s a little bit crazy.

Slow Motion A

This is nothing more than just a good song. It was written as though it could have been recorded in the early ‘60s by any of those Motown girl group bands (we even hear Debbie do her own back-up singing in that same style). Also, that wobbly effect they put on her voice in certain parts is an actual good use of post-production effects. That’s cool!

Atomic A-

This was Blondie’s big hit, and I still hear it in places occasionally. It’s much more of a straight disco song than “The Hardest Part” earlier in the album, but I can’t make up my mind which one I like better. But it’s still not nearly as good as “Heart of Glass.” “Atomic” has a really simple though incredibly catchy vocal melody. The beat is a tad robotic, which points to the direction music was headed in the ‘80s. That quality also makes it different from most disco songs of the era. And of course, it’s a tremendously fun song to hear. My only real beef with it was there were too many lulls in here... There are parts where you can just hear the disco rhythm, and nothing else. Why not get more creative with the textures, or at least get one of your guitarists to do a solo? Were they getting that stiff?

Sound-A-Sleep C-

This song makes me so .... so ......... sleeeeeeeeeeeeepyyyyy .............zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz........... (Do you think the government is behind this one, too?) I suppose that I could see how a lullaby might work in a rock album ... The Beatles did one, sort of, and it was pretty cool. I can’t fault this song for being slow and quiet, since that’s what it’s supposed to be. But I can fault this song for being BORING. You see, I don’t want to listen to songs that would actually put me to sleep. Since this is so long-drawn-out, this was a perfect opportunity to work on some textures. But this is just the same old instruments playing the exact same way throughout. Yawn!

Victor A

Every time I hear this song start up, I always seem to think Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” is about to start playing. I looked into it (with the aid of my keyboard) and they both start with two hits of the exact interval of the exact same note (“G”). Except here it’s a tubular bell or a church bell, and Michael Jackson’s plays a gongy synthesizer. (Oh yeah... I’m such a nerd for checking that out.) Anyway, this is a little more along the lines that I wish Blondie had done more in this record. This thing is completely mad. It’s a very fast-paced punky thing with a tight riff and Harry screaming at the tops of her lungs amidst a tribal chant. I hated this when I first reviewed the album, but now it’s one of my favs.

Living in the Real World A-

Ah, now they’re writing songs about things that I have no real experience with!! OK... I guess I go outside occasionally. I go to school, too, but I have my doubts about whether that’s the “real world.” Anyway, they close the album with this traditional sort of punk song. If you want my opinion, this sounds more punk than anything from their debut album! It’s very loud, very fast, and Debbie Harry gives out one of her more boisterous vocal performances. I’d much rather hear this stuff than the processed stuff at the beginning of the album.


Autoamerican (1980)

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Autoamerican

Europa B

Alright! I’m listening to a new Blondie album! So, far they’ve all started with an exciting, bouncy bit ‘o new wave, so I can’t wait to hear what Blondie has in store for us now!!!! ............ uhhhhhhhh ... Do I have the right album? Is this Blondie, or is this Alan Silvestri? ... Um, well that’s Deborah Harry talking at the end, so I guess this is Blondie. This is a really slow though well-composed instrumental theme. It’s the last thing you’d expect on a Blondie album, and it isn’t bad. But it isn’t great either. Harry’s speech at the end with all those spaceship beeps just made it seem pretentious although it is kinda funny. Errr... OK, you flirted with this different type of music. Now.... NEVER DO IT AGAIN!

Live it Up A

Oh! Hey, Deborah Harry is still a singer, and she’s singing a mighty excellent tune, too. This is a sort of half-hearted disco ... it’s a take-off on the genre just like “Heart of Glass” was, but I doubt people had much of a desire to dance to it. It’s a terribly fun song, though, with a catchy melody and punchy instrumentation. And those non-verbal overdubs are pure ear candy.

Here’s Looking At You A-

WOW, they’re going all over the map with this album. This is an old pop song done in the exact style they would have in the 1930s. Even Deborah Harry gives a straight performance of it, although I’d imagine that she enjoyed doing something so old... but I doubt the rest of the band had any fun. I doubt any of them knew how to play those horns and strings!

The Tide is High A

Another 180-degree turn in terms of style, but at least reggae is something that they have actually done before! The instrumentation standards were very high for this one. The highlight is that especially scrumptious horn section tooting around in the background, and I also adore that very light string section playing scales lightly in the background. The rhythm section keeps the song very bubbly. Harry’s vocals are quite lovable here... She doesn’t have that youthful growl anymore, but she’s dependable.

Angels in the Balcony B+

The beginning of this track is a really weird industrial loop with a pounding repetitive drum line and weird synthesizer effects playing very monotonous intervals. That suddenly stops and a very nice pop song begins to play. This nice pop song is similar to something that would have appeared on Plastic Letters so in a way, this is truer to their original style. It has the classic guitars and a solid drum beat (although there’s an occasional, very light hit that’s very 1980s). The only real problem with it is the melody, which is mostly forgettable.

Go Through It B

This has a neat sort of dramatic push to it... like they wanted to write a new song for Paint Your Wagon. I like that idea, and this comes off pretty well especially with that excellent brass section providing some extra body and texture. The problem is that the harmonies are predictable, and Harry’s vocal melody isn’t interesting, either. Ah well. Nice try.

Do the Dark B+

Whoever had the idea to put that synthesizer playing those bending, Middle-Eastern sorts of notes should be given a cigar and a handshake. Otherwise, this would have been a too-ordinary pop song with disco leanings. Deborah Harry only gives a straight-ahead vocal performance (what ever gave her the idea to sound so professional?) and the melody is only a few notches above ‘forgettable.’

Rapture A+

About three years ago, I told a few people that rap music hit its peak in 1980 when The Clash released “The Magnificent Seven” and Blondie released this scrumptious thing. I only said that to get on someone’s nerves (I’ve never been a fan of rap music ... and to think that I would say these punk/new-wave bands did it the best was an insult too cool that it hurt.) But, anyway, I guess this really isn’t a rap song. It’s more of a pre-rap song. That is, it’s a danceable piece ‘o funk with a little bit of rapping in the middle (with lyrics that are hilarious). The funk groove is just awesome with a tremendously cool bass groove, great rhythm and a long-drawn-out and catchy vocal melody. Added bonuses are the great horn section and that glockenspiel!

Faces C+

They’re revisiting 1930s pop except this is *a lot* more boring than that charming “Here’s Looking At You.” Harry’s taking the role of a nightclub singer in a smoky nightclub somewhere. She gives a nice vocal performance... some points, she really tries to give it some real passion in a professional sense. (She’s very serious all throughout this album ... I miss how playful she used to be!!) This really isn’t bad; I just don’t care for this sort of music, I guess.

T-Birds C+

This chorus sounds so much like The Velvet Underground’s “Pale Blue Eyes” that it’s completely distracting to me! Though it’s a much different sort of song than that; it’s a pounding rockabilly song with incredibly thick arrangements. The atmosphere is cool, reminiscent of George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass. But it just didn’t seem to work out for them. Giving those vocals to Debbie’s vocals wasn’t a good idea.

Walk Like Me C

Geez, they’re really dropping the ball at the end of the album. It’s like they just ran out of steam. The biggest problem with this song is not with the melody or the instrumentation (although they contribute), but it’s Deborah Harry’s vocals. Surprising that I would single out her performance here in particular, because there wasn’t any post-production done to her. Her repetitive calls of “Waaaaalk Liiiiike Meeeeee!” are so irritating in the chorus! She sings it very loudly and slightly off key ... and she doesn’t even sound like she’s having fun about it. Making it worse are those barks she does. Bleh!!!

Follow Me C-

Oh no!! This album really did go downhill! This is another instance where they did a jerky 180 twist again, covering a Lerner & Lowe Broadway tune from Camelot. I don’t necessarily have anything against them covering a Broadway song, but I have something against this schmaltzy instrumentation. It’s played completely from cheap synthesizers and they place these cluttery whooshes and twinkle sound effects probably because they didn’t know what to do. Icky.

BONUS TRACKS

Call Me (original version) B

Richard Gere and his sexy ass turned this Blondie song into their biggest American hit! OK, he didn’t physically do it, but he starred in American Gigolo, which is what the film was written for. I didn’t see the movie, but this song is eight minutes long ... a very very long time for a song without much development or incredibly catchy hooks. I’m supposing they played this over the title credits. The single version of this song was a much more respectable three and a half minutes.

Suzy & Jeffrey B

This was the B-side of “The Tide is High,” and it’s a nice song. It’s a throwback to the 1960s girl group music. It has a really nice laid back pace to it, and a few OK hooks. But the hooks end up getting repeated so much that they grow terribly stale. The lyrics and how they’re presented rings a bit of The Dixie Cups’ “Chapel of Love.”

Rapture (Special Disco Mix)

I hate remixes. BUT THIS IS STILL THE COOLEST RAP SONG EVER WRITTEN!!! (...Yeah, I still want to evoke some controversy. Will anyone take the bait?)


The Hunter (1982)

Read the full review:
The Hunter

Orchid Club B+

Just to prove how much I've changed over the years (maybe for the worse), I actually like this song now. Sure, it's hardly a masterpiece and it does come off as rather sloppy, but it's a fun song all the same. This is a semi-detached, echoey song all put to a tribal beat. Synthesizers fade in at out to deliver some chords or a sound-effect. Deborah Harry's vocals do sound a little out-of-their-element; it's as though she was pretending that this was an actual song. Not this strange conglomeration. I probably would have rather heard her sing with more of a creepy edge to her voice... like she was acting in a horror movie, perhaps. (She does a little scream toward the end... I like that... But that's not enough.) I also would have liked them to play around with the harmonies a little more. Simply put, there aren't enough chords.

Island of Lost Souls A

Here's a song I always loved, even when I thought Hunter was a complete hunk of crap. I had this song featured on an '80s mix I made and listened to very frequently in 2004. (Ah, I miss that compilation! I think I lost it somehow...) In all actuality, I think I like this song for all the wrong reasons. This Caribbean concoction was most likely an attempt to revisit the success they had with Latin and urban rhythms in songs such as “The Tide is High” and “Rapture.” But those songs were actually serious and seriously good; “Island of Lost Souls” comes off more as a cheesy mockery of the genre! And yet, I love this cheesy mockery... everything from that festive, plastic rhythm, the cliche horn section, and that corny but catchy vocal melody gives me smiling-spells!!

Dragonfly B

Blondie goes New Romantic! O, how I've been longing for this day...... They do a pretty decent job of it, creating a nice jerky drumbeat and a busy, bouncy bass-line. Debbie's vocal melody is a catchy one, and she finds a few nice hooks in there. Unfortunately, the song lasts six minutes, and it doesn't convey any meaningful new ideas after the first thirty seconds. That doesn't matter as much as you think it would, because of the nature of this groove, which is so good that you'd think it could go on forever. ......But seriously, six minutes is pushing it.

For Your Eyes Only B+

This was Blondie's failed attempt at writing a song for the James Bond movie of the same name. It would have been a good song for the franchise, and it's certainly better than the one they went with! Though I suppose I understand where the producers were coming from. This is a bit too cutesy and cheekily plays around with the cliches of Bond title music. The sloppy production values make it seem a bit pedestrian, too, but I assume that the producers would have had them rerecord this. Anyway, this is a fun song anyway. It's light, breezy and catchy—what more could you ask for from Blondie?

The Beast B

I might have suspected it in the previous songs, but this is the definitive proof that they didn't care about this album. This is second take on “Rapture” is such a toss-off! ...And yet, it's a fun toss off! I don't want to go too far with that, though. The main disco groove is uncommonly trashy for a Blondie song, and Harry's rapping in an especially cutesy manner. Yikes! But the song is also fairly dark, and it wins me over for the atmosphere. It also picks up considerable steam in the middle, where there's a messy guitar solo that ends up making the whole thing worth it. So, this is a mixed bag. It's messy, but crazy enough to be fun.

War Child B-

I went to school right after I reviewed “The Beast,” and I'll tell you I had “War Child” stuck in my head all day. That was a little irritating, but hardly more irritating than sitting through a calculus lecture. I'm going to have to remember to listen to “Good Vibrations” or something nice... Anyway, this is song is characterized by a fast-paced, cold electro-groove at its base while Debbie sings a rather simple melody over it. The electro-groove is pretty cool although it does have the tendency to sound a little too much like the Doctor Who theme song, and it's also not something I'm thrilled about hearing for four minutes straight. But above the groove, Debbie sounds more confident than she did anywhere else here, and there's a really cool saxophone solo over it. For some reason, it sounds like they were more focused on this piece than most of the others. Shame it isn't that good of a song...

Little Caesar C-

Now I can't be sure that what I said about Debbie's blander vocal styling in “Orchid Club.” Here, she adopts a sort of personality in her voice... a strange sort of stylish, snide half-whisper, giving me visions of her being a New York prostitute. Yeah, I wish she would just sing normally. This song is really sort of bad, too. The back-up instrumentation has that vague Latin vibe to it. It's not badly constructed, but the whole vocal performance is murdering my senses. (Oh, I can't help myself.... Pizza! Pizza!)

Danceaway B-

This might not be very good, but at least it's fun in an unpretentious sort of way. It's based on a happy organ riff while an upbeat rhythm that contains clapping keeps a 'party time' atmosphere. Debbie Harry re-remembered how to sound like Debbie Harry, which is a positive thing. But wow, the melody is terribly bland this time. In fact, I'll have to rewrite that sentence and italicize the “terribly.” Wow, the melody is terribly bland.

Can I Find the Right Words to Say? C

Sometimes when I get toward the end of an album's track reviews and I start giving out lower ratings, I get weary that I'm just getting sick and tired of listening to the album. I took a few listens of this and attempted to gage how much I like it, and ... wow, I really don't like it. It's based on an overly intrusive drum-line, and Debbie Harry's vocal melody is very detached and very bland. The synthesizer chords and guitar licks hidden in the background sound like they're just there to fill up the empty spaces.

English Boys A-

This song is, singlehandedly, the savior of the last half of The Hunter. If it wasn't for “English Boys,” then there would be absolutely no point to the last half of The Hunter. This is a really sweet-sounding song that stylistically resembles some of the ballads on Parallel Lines. Debbie sings a catchy melody using the higher register of her voice. Perhaps the melody repeats a bit too much... I would complain more about that, but this is one of the album's better songs, so it seems pointless! It's a light and enjoyable song. That's all I ever really wanted!

The Hunter Gets Captured By the Game C+

This is a weak song and thus a poor conclusion to the album, but this was such a weak album as a whole that I guess it doesn't matter. One thing I will say about this song is I have no idea what to call it. There's a definite jazz element to it, but it's very spaced-out. Everything from that simple rhythm to Debbie Harry's half-conscious vocals to that lackadaisical guitar solo in the middle gives me more proof that these guys just didn't give a damn. Ah well... (Hey, I looked in the Wikipedia entry for this album, and I figured out what to call this song! ...A Smokey Robinson cover!)

BONUS TRACK:

Warchild (extended mix)

Um... This is a version of that one song, except now we have to listen to that electro-riff for a straight eight minutes. ...I don't know about you, but I'm not going there. Sorry. If you have an interest in it, then more power to you.


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All reviews are written by Michael Lawrence.