Blondie (band not cartoon) Appreciation Thread

I happened to drag out their “Greatest Hits” CD tonight. I have always liked their music but Great Og but it’s good. There’s melody all through it, the production is just superb, the drumming is outstanding, the songs vary wildly in style, and Deborah Harry’s voice is over it all; at times otherworldly and at other times harsh and sarcastic.

I remember holidaying at Point Lookout, a headland on an island near where I live, in what I guess must have been about February 1979 during our long school summer holidays. There was a little general store/burger joint place with a jukebox. I was twelve but the older surfer boys and girls kept playing “Heart of Glass” over and over again on the jukebox. I had never heard anything like it. I had no idea what the words were or meant, the vocal just had this strange ethereal quality, over a disco beat and always with that series of drum fills as it plays out. Mrs P and I got married about two hundred yards from there 21 years later, though that had nothing to do with Heart of Glass.

The only hit of theirs I don’t like is “The Tide is High” but I’ve never appreciated reggae.

My punk roommate during Blondie’s heyday was fond of saying he wanted to be reincarnated as Deborah Harry’s toilet seat. I would not go quite that far, but I do know where he was coming from.

Blondie’s gotten back together again recently, haven’t they?

They were the first group I ever heard live, at Merriweather Post Pavilion, in 1978 (?). The opening band was Rockpile, who also rocked!

Last week we watched Bridesmaids and it has “Rip Her to Shreds” at the opening and closing (a different version at the end). That’s a pretty rare one to hear, let alone in a movie. Checking at IMDb shows that it was also used in Mean Girls.

Their first reunion album had a couple good tunes, their usual variety pack of styles. But the 2nd wasn’t worth the plastic. Debbie Harry’s voice just isn’t the same anymore. Haven’t followed them since.


  1. Picture This.
  2. (I’m Always Touched by Your) Presence, Dear.
  3. Dreaming.
  4. In the Flesh.
  5. Sunday Girl (French version).

It’s a sort-of reggae / mariachi hybrid. The band was willing to experiment with different genres and they were huge in the UK. One of my earliest pop memories is “Heart of Glass” on the radio, and Deborah Harry singing “pain in the ass”, although a shufty on Google suggests that the BBC didn’t play that version, so (shrugs shoulders). They had that combination of stylishness and distance that went down well here, the sense that they were playing at being pop stars, putting on a show. Heart-on-the-sleeve genuineness wasn’t the British way, in the age of Adam Ant.

That’s what I like about the band. The fakeness. They were obviously acting out a part, dressing up. I never had a sense that they had a natural, non-affected state. It’s like how Peter Sellers used to say that there wasn’t a Peter Sellers underneath Peter Sellers. I can’t think of any American bands from the same period that were so tailor-made for a European sensibility. Except for Devo and the B-52s, but Devo were never really pop and the B-52’s burned out faster than Blondie and seemed too fake.

I mean, the video of “Heart of Glass” is totally disco in a way that must have seemed perfectly normal at the time, but nowadays - such was the genius of the band - both the song and the video seem like a clever parody of disco, which is what they were, rather than dated old rubbish crap like “Yes Sir, I Can Boogie”.

Here’s Debbie Harry with a muppet version of the band, on The Muppets:

I wonder if the band were teed off at not being invited. Presumably they had learned to accept having to stand behind Debbie Harry all the time. The view must have been pretty good. It has to be said that she had tonnes of sex appeal but absolutely awful fashion sense (makes cat hissing noise).

A while back I actually listened to the band’s albums in chronological order - they start off as fun but a bit anonymous, and then they got fun and awesomely slick, and then they get boring and awesomely slick, and I haven’t heard The Hunter. You could make an awesome double-album out of Parallel Lines and Eat to the Beat. And in the space of a year they seemed to deflate, because Autoamerican sounds like an empty, programmed imitation of Blondie. It has the stylistic experimentation and one good song, but it’s hollow. Which is paradoxical given that the band never stood for anything or had any message; they were always hollow, but there are different types of hollow.

You know, looking at the cover of Eat to the Beat, I’m thinking to myself “why is Frankenstein’s monster standing behind one half of The Human League”? In the UK the comeback album was a big hit, and “Maria” got to number one - the reviews were generally ecstatic. But it was like New Order’s comeback, or Madness’ comeback, it started out legitimately good and then went mediocre and pointless. Although there’s a sense that the band will be able to fill venues for as long as they want to.

“Heart of Glass” The first song I ever danced to.

I was a bit underage in 1979 (19) but got into the Poison Apple. Central Illinois, so not particularly ‘chic’. But the hottest club around.

Danced with Terri, a friend of my older brother. Excuse me for saying that she was (maybe still is) a hot tall blonde babe. One of the prettiest girls I’ve ever known.

Oh yeah. I still like Blondie.

Unfortunately Blondie’s heyday occurred before I was born, so for most of my youth they were just “that band with the disco song”. Then in college I randomly picked up Parallel Lines at a used CD store and FELL HEAD OVER HEELS IN LOVE.

Their first album is my favorite though – X-Offender is just the best, Rip Her to Shreds is hilarious, Kung-Fu Girls is rockin, and I want Attack of the Giant Ants to be played at my funeral.

I also credit Blondie with introducing me to the 70s CBGB’s scene, and thus the Ramones, Talking Heads, Patti Smith, Television, etc. I had the luck of seeing Debbie Harry perform on the club’s second-to-last night before its closing…one of my fondest concert memories.

In conclusion, Blondie rules. Thanks for this thread!

That’s a pretty good summation. I pretty much like the trio of Plastic Letters, Parallel Lines and Eat to the Beat as albums and a couple of stray tracks on either side. Basically just 1978-1979 if you look at the release schedule. But what a great trio of albums - I like almost all of all three, which is uncommon.

A GREAT example of Clem Burke’s drumming. I always thought The Who missed a great opportunity by not hiring Clem after Keith died of excessive Keith-ness. Saw him recently backing Hugh Cornwall. If you aren’t the songwriter and the band breaks up, you have to keep playing for other people to earn a living. All the money in music is in the songwriting.

I have mixed feelings on Blondie. I think the “disco” singles are brilliant: “Heart of Glass” (produced by Mike Chapman) and “Call Me” (produced by Giorgio Moroder). I am less interested in the other material I’ve heard.

John Lennon sent a postcard to Ringo advising him to record something like “Heart of Glass” calling it “great & simple.”

I saw them live recently opening for the New Cars and found their playing sloppy. Clem Burke’s fills were a mess. Here is an interview with their main producer Mike Chapman:

They wrote one of the all-time greatest singles, “Atomic.”

Probably one of first bands I was aware of, and a fan of, as a kid. I remember Autoamerican was a massive crossover hit.

I think along with Talking Heads, they were the vanguard of American new wave. I much prefer the British variant, but Blondie and the Heads slotted right in nicely. “Rapture” kind of helped put hip-hop on the map as well.
I remember reading about how the producer for “Heart of Glass” had Clem Burke play every percussion instrument separately and perfectly. By the time they finished Burke was a basket case.

The end of Picture This seems out of time:

Get a pocket computer
Try to do what ya used to do, yeah

It doesn’t go with the rest of the song. Suddenly, it sounds like a modern-day Apple ad.

I’ve always liked Debbie Harry’s distinctive voice, but I mostly remember her from this freaky scene in “Videodrome”.

Of course Frank Infante was the guy who had to sue to play guitar on “The Hunter” album. The rest of the group made him record his parts when they weren’t around, and then they wouldn’t take him on tour. Hired some awful guitarist who kept showboating.They wouldn’t let him and Nigel Harrison (another guy they tried to put down the memory hole) play with them when they got inducted into the Hall of Fame.

I loved Blondie in its heyday, saw them a few years ago on a reunion tour and Debbie has put on a few pounds too. She is actually three years older than Mary Weiss, lead singer for the Shangri-las, which is initially hard to believe. Not too many of those late 1970s early 1980s New wave groups latest too long, except for U2.

It’s trite, but unknown callers have “Hangin’ On the Telephone” as their assigned ringtone on my iPhone.

Have mentioned this before, but ages ago (late 70’s, early 80’s?) I was in NYC at the Gay Pride Festival on Christopher Street. At the very end of the street, near the docks, was a flatbed trailer. On it was a group playing some music and only about 20 people (including myelf and a friend) were listening to them. It was early in the afternoon, hot, sunny and humid. I remember asking my friend, “They are good - who are they?” and he said, “Blondie.”

Also, by coincidence, another very good friend of mine bought an apartment in Chelsea in the late 80’s. She started getting Debbie Harry’s mail - seems this had been Debbie Harry’s apartment before my friend had bought the place.

I’ve always liked Blondie. They were one of my favorite bands when I was 11 or 12 (1979-80).
The Hardest Part
Heart of Glass
Call Me
Rip Her To Shreds

That’s one thing that I prefer about how music used to be made. Today, it sometimes seems as though it would take ten years for a band to release three albums. In the Seventies, a band could strike while they were still young and inspired, before the business and personal commitments wore them down. Those three are definitely my favorites from Blondie.

It was 1999 that they started playing again, so not recently unless they disbanded and reformed since then. They had a number 1 hit in the UK that year with a new single (Maria).

I used to like them but have now heard Heart of Glass on the radio a few too many times too like any of their music anymore. It sounds dated and a little contrived now. It’s certainly not punk and sounds a bit too slick to be called new wave.

Blondie: all-time favorite group. I have everything they’ve ever recorded, and everything Debbie Harry ever recorded solo. Even the imports. And I have Making Tracks somewhere, the book Debbie wrote about the band and its history. Lots of cool old pictures at CBGBs.

I was a kid when they were at their peak, though, so I never saw Blondie live. I did see Debbie, Chris Stein, and Clem Burke on tour in 1990, though, promoting Debbie’s album Def Dumb and Blonde. Awesome show; Chris is a wicked guitarist who doesn’t get to shine on the albums much.