BANG - October 2003 - page 88
THE CURSE OF BLONDIE
INSPIRATIONS: camp horro flicks, bad boys, probably the finest back catalogue in pop history.
By rights, they should now be an irrelevance. An icon, sure, but one that's grown dusty on the shelf. A memory. That they've flung out another glamorous, gutsy, galvanising record that makes their Noo Yawk sons and daughters sound like Star In Their Eyes contestants, only more amateurish, is a blessed miracle. The Curse Of Blondie, which is ready to feed your head and eat your loins, is rich with inner beauty and obscenely buoyant with surface charm. It's a winner.
There's too much of a good thing here, though. At 66 minutes long, it houses, amid the gorgeousness, three or four fillers. T'was always thus with Blondie albums, in truth, but its marathon magic means the nippers'll learn where those 'unique' Strokes riffs and Yeah Yeah Yeahs poses come from.
And if Blondie were always the great singles band, there are half a dozen here ready to roll you over with their punches. First such is 'Good Boys', a 'Heart-Of-Atomic-Glass' breeze featuring a cheeky subversion of Queen's 'We Will Rock You'. 'Undone', a dynamic seduction song, is also addictive and potentially monstrous.
Even before these, however, there's the startling opener, 'Shakedown'. Buzzing in with radio hiss then settling into a heartstopping riff, it finds Deborah rapping more sassily than ever, with the gauche mix of aplomb and incompetence that is hers alone. Tough as old boots but still 45 times as pretty, she's rattling on like a scattergun about the Pope and a telescope and how that's a nice spot and should she kiss it? It shouldn't work; it does, flying off the disc like an animated bonfire, saying 'Woo-hoo, Blondie are back!'
Which, remarkably, they are. When 1999's No Exit, their first album in 17 years, yielded a number one in 'Maria', all seemed back on track. But again fate was cruel. This eighth album (co-produced by early ally Craig Leon) took ages to make - tapes were lost, label chaos occurred. The usual for Blondie, for whom even being the biggest band on Earth through the New Wave era wasn't easy. As ever, they have overcome, and now sound like a punky Prince, a grubby, arty Abba.
If you're not Warhol-wowed by astute, just-clean-enough and just-dirty-enough thrill rides like 'Golden Rod', 'End To End' and 'Diamond Bridge', a hex upon you. 'Hello Joe' is a tribute to Mr. Ramone, 'Desire Brings Me Back' is abstract beatnik jazz, 'The Tingler' tingles and tingles good. Harry sings like a fanged honey; Stein, Burke and Destri ride again. Rip any doubts to shreds: the Queen is alive.