Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Blondie: Blondie

Review # 54
Artist: Blondie
Title: Blondie
Format: LP
Label: Chrysalis
Year: 1976
Songs: 11

Everybody has heard Blondie. Their hit songs like "One Way or Another" and "Heart of Glass," along with Debbie Harry's quasi-sex symbol status, cemented a place for the band in the history of rock music. But before Blondie was a hit, they were just a good little punk/new wave band with some catchy tunes. Their self-titled debut LP captures this lesser-known era of the band's music.

Originally released on Private Stock Records in 1976, this record contains the band's first single, "X Offender," along with several other irreverent catchy songs. In the early days of the punk and new wave scene, before the Sex Pistols LP had even debuted, definitions of what was considered punk were more flexible. For Blondie, it meant high energy, bouncy pop songs, often with a retro feel to them. "X Offender" and"Little Girl Lies" sound like a really good 1960s garage band, with organ, straight up rock 'n roll guitar riffs, and hand claps. "In the Flesh," one of the better known songs on the record, sounds like something out of the late 1950s or early 1960s. "In the Sun" is evocative of 1960s surfer bands like the Beach Boys or Jan and Dean. At other times, the organ also contributes to an almost carnival feel to some songs, like "A Shark In Jet's Clothing." The record finishes with a sci-fi film homage, "The Attack of the Giant Ants," which features a maddeningly catchy "la la la" chorus that I should find annoying but love anyway.  All in all, this is a melodic, fun, and catchy record.

Blondie lost most of their punk credibility when they released  the disco hit "Heart of Glass." I think you'd be hard pressed to find many punk bands that cite them as a major influence anymore. Even so, the influence of this particular record is hard to deny. Several of the melodies on this record can be heard echoing on other records that came out in subsequent years. While I can't say for certain that they borrowed it from this record, the similarities between, for example, "Look Good in Blue" and the Jam's "The Butterfly Collector" are hard to miss. It's worth noting, too, that "Heart of Glass" was not the departure that some people made it out to be. Listen to "Man Overboard" and you can hear the disco influence showing up not so subtly on this first LP.

I'm not a huge Blondie fan, but this is definitely my favorite of their albums. Blondie's punk cred might be assailable, but the quality of this record isn't.

If you haven't hear "X Offender," you should check it out.

Total songs listened: 685

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