Blondie 2001 Liner Notes CD Booklet
1976 was a great year in the history of music in America. From the depths of New York City's Bowery came a powerful new force that we called Punk. It encapsulated various styles of pop and rock but in a more simplistic, straightforward, aggressive manner
played and performed by new groups of artists who banded together in reaction to the sterility of disco. The venues of choice were Max's Kansas City, an old hang owned by Tommy Dean, and CBGB's, run by Hilly Kristal. Sadly Max's is now gone, but CB's lives on and has become world famous as a shrine of pop culture. It was there that I first met Blondie.
As I was hanging out one night in an attempt to collect artists from the scene to put together in a "best of" album, Hilly came over and said there was someone who wanted to meet me. He introduced me to Deborah Harry, a vision in a raincoat. She said, "I have a band - Blondie - and we'd like to be on your record." Obviously impressed but not convinced, I set up a rehearsal at a midtown studio to see if they'd fit with the concept.
From the moment they started playing I knew something special was happening. I laughed from beginning to end; the music was pure joy. The songs flowed out in natural progression, one better than the next, full of irony, passion and humor - slices of life that they interpreted in their own unique way. Their musical ideas far exceeded their ability to execute them at the time, but what a great noise they made together. This was music as it's supposed to be - filled with spirit, fun and true soul. I was sold, and immediately began working with them.
My experience as a producer was rooted in the Brill Building culture of the '60s, where - as part of a successful team of songwriters - I built a career by making pop hit singles like My Boyfriend's Back, I Want Candy and Hang On Sloopy. We learned our trade by listening to blues and R&B records, and by trying to emulate that greatest of all pop producers, Phil Spector. This - mixed with Blondie's influences from that period, as well as The Doors, Velvet Underground, Iggy Pop and David Bowie - made for a powerful collaboration. I love to think that the first two records, BLONDIE and PLASTIC LETTERS, reflect that.
The first release was the single X Offender, which was originally titled Sex Offender. Given the conservative nature of radio at the time, we were asked to change the name. I came up with the idea of substituting "X" for "Sex," and all was well in radioland. Unfortunately they didn't play it anyway.
The album BLONDIE was originally released in 1977 on Private Stock Records, and later transferred to Chrysalis. It was recorded at Plaza Sound, located above Radio City Music Hall. The room was built by NBC as a facility to induce the great Toscanini to come to America to conduct the NBC Symphony Orchestra. An enormous room with a great drum sound, full of special instruments left over from the symphony's days. A perfect environment for the music we were about to make?
I tried to make each song a story unto itself. Little vignettes with Debbie's voice as the
heroine at the core, and the rest of the band as the action that creates the space for the story to exist. There was so much personality - not only from Debbie but also from each of the individual players - that it was a challenge to harness it into a cohesive recorded form. In the end, though, that's what Blondie was all about - personality. When it all finally came together, it was apparent that Blondie was a great band.
The album contained one song that I put a great deal of time into - In The Flesh, which surprisingly became a local hit in - of all places - Australia. This was an indication of things to come. The big break would come not in America, but in Europe. Blondie was a band for the world.