Look-in - 25 October 1980
You may have noticed that, over the past few months, Blondie haven't exactly been in the limelight - not since their glittering sell-out tour of Britain at the turn of the year, in fact.
At the time of that series of live dates, the band felt that they needed to undertake a tour here as a boost to their confidence, because their singles had not been reaching the chart heights which had been expected of them. So, in that respect, the British tour was a resounding success, with capacity audiences giving them an ecstatic welcome - and subsequently putting two singles, Atomic and Call Me at the top of the charts.
But what has become of Blondie since then? Call Me reached number one in May, and since then we have heard very little from them. One of the reasons is that they have been hard at work in America, establishing as loyal a following there as they have on this side of the Atlantic. "America is so much bigger that it takes a lot longer for things to happen there," said drummer Clem Burke when the band were last in Britain. "You can be big in one area, only to discover that in another region no-one has ever heard of you." Now, though, surely everyone must have heard of them!
Call Me was the theme music for the big box-office, X-rated film American Gigolo, and the song was included on the soundtrack album which just crept into the charts - which meant that a lot of people who may not otherwise have had a chance to hear the band were introduced to them. And Debbie is currently advertising jeans in America - the manufacturers reckon that the advertising poster featuring her is selling as well as the jeans themselves!
The rest of the band have also been keeping busy since their return to the United States, with keyboard man Jimmy Destri following up the production of an album by a band called The Revlons, whom he discovered, by producing a compilation album, called Nine Times Five, with tracks by New York new wave bands. Clem Burke has been working on producing other bands - and on an EP of his own - and Chris Stein has been working as a producer for some new bands. Blondie members all agree that taking a break to follow their solo ambitions is a good thing for the band, because it means that they stay fresh, can bring new ideas to the group and don't get frustrated.
Now they are back together working on a new album - their first since Eat To The Beat last November - and judging by the rumours about the content of the LP, they're determined to prove that they have not fallen into a rut. Alan Edwards, Blondie's spokesman in England, says: "I'm told that it will have a disco flavour, and when I last spoke to Chris he told me that the most recent music he had been listening to, and enjoying, was Tibetan bells - so it's anyone's guess as to what we can expect!" The recording is shrouded in mystery, and even the release date of the album is being kept a closely guarded secret, with predictions that it would be ready in November. A single is also expected sometime this month, but at the time of writing no title or release date has been announced.
Jimmy Destri and Chris Stein are responsible for most of Blondie's songs, and while they have been helping other bands by producing their records, they agree that the bands also help them, by giving them new ideas and widening the influences in their writing and their partnership with disco-king Giorgio Moroder (the producer responsible for making Donna Summer's music such a distinctive and outstanding success) on the production of Call Me was an indication of their search for new and interesting sounds.
At one time, it looked as if Giorgio would produce the new Blondie album, and they had abandoned their recording plans with Mike Chapman - who produced Parallel Lines and Eat To The Beat for them - on the West Coast of America, to return to New York and start work with Giorgio. However, that didn't work out as they had hoped, and they went back to the West Coast and Mike, with whom they are now working. Once the album is completed, it doesn't necessarily mean that the band will follow it with a tour, because they apparently have no plans to do any live shows for the rest of the year. While the recording continues, there is no time to work on a stage show, and rather than rush into anything, they're saying at the moment that they'd prefer to wait until next year before deciding whether to hit the road again.
They may be producing a video-disc, however, to coincide with the album, following the success of their Eat To The Beat video, which was one of the first to be released. Blondie have always been interested in videos, and they are aware of how much TV showings of the videos of their singles helped them to establish themselves in this country, so they take considerable care about getting them exactly as they want them. Now, with the boom in home video cassette recorders, they have been quick to realise how popular video versions of albums can become.
Films are another of the band's interests, but as yet we have not had the opportunity to see any of their film projects. Roadie (expected to receive an AA-rating) a film about a member of a rock show touring crew also featuring the larger than life Heavy Metal singer Meat Loaf, has just been released in America, and although there is no definite release date for Britain yet, it is thought that it will be on the cinema circuit before Christmas. Blondie are in the film for about half an hour, and they enjoyed it so much that they are considering more films, although they have not yet found anything that they want to do.
Debbie, of course, had a leading role in the film Union City, (which has only been shown in the States), which inspired her to write the song Union City Blue, about her experiences of film making, and her performance has encouraged other film producers to try to tempt her back in front of the cameras. She is studying a number of scripts at the moment, but has made no firm decisions - partly because she does not know how much time she will have for filming. Union City has been quite well received in the United States, but it could well be that Britain will not get the chance to see it at all as so far no distributor has been found to release it here, and until someone picks it up, it must sit on the shelf.
Perhaps when the album is ready, and a single is high in the charts, someone will release the film. Then, after what appears to have been a bit of a hibernation, Blondie will once again be seen and heard everywhere around the country.