Look-in - 8th April 1978
are mad about
It's a measure of how much the pop scene has changed over the past few months that we're featuring Blondie here. For quite a while now, they've been one of America's leading new wave bands with only a small, if devoted, following of older fans. And now here they are high in our charts with the jaunty Denis, an old song that's quite untypical of their usual style, and suddenly everyone's gone Blondie mad!
Blondie are an extraordinary six piece New York outfit featuring the stunning Debbie Harry on vocals, Chris Stein on lead guitar, Frank Infanti on 2nd guitar, Nigel Harrison on bass, Clement Burke on drums and James Destri on keyboards. Together they form the latest American rock group to cross the Atlantic and show us just how strong the New Wave scene is in America. Their unique blend of sixties' pop and seventies' street life first came to the public's attention early in 1977, when their debut U.K. album Blondie was released. Successful tours here and the release of their second album Plastic Letters have established Blondie as much more than just another new wave novelty.
Unfortunately Blondie have never been labelled a punk band, which they hate. Says James Destri: "We're not a punk group, and the only punks we know are the Ramones. We're a rock and roll band and when you take away all the -isms and -osophies that's what it all comes down to - the basic rock and roll elements."
Although Blondie were first heard of during the summer of '73, it was not until 1975 that the present line-up evolved and they seriously started working as a group. Their first single X Offender/In The Sun was released afterwards. The single, which appeared on their debut album, was produced by Richard Gottehrer and it was he who helped give Blondie that distinctive sixties sound which led to the comparisons with that great musical arranger Phil Spector. Although the album could never be called a huge commercial success it helped to establish a large following for Blondie on this side of the Atlantic and made quite sure that it wasn't long before the band could set about their first U.K. tour. The shows were a great success and the combination of Debbie Harry's good looks and Blondie's style proved irresistible.
"We are a fashion-conscious group," says Chris Stein, "you can't deny that. I don't see anything wrong in that. In music it's eventually going to get to a point where it will be impossible to find an era that somebody isn't already borrowing from - it's going to get to the point where you can't tell the difference between the past, present and future."
Blondie's latest album, Plastic Letters, is considered to be much more of a group effort that its predecessor. The first album had Debbie Harry's character stamped all over it, whilst
Plastic Letters allows the whole group far more scope.
Blondie's biggest problem so far has been getting over the fact that the band were being presented as just Debbie Harry. Explains Debbie about her good looks and the publicity she alone was getting: "It was very annoying. After a certain point I was getting most of the attention and until we became hip to the name of the game we didn't like it. It was weird and frightening and annoying and insulting and sometimes it was good, but now it's got to the point where we're taking it and using it to our advantage. It is good business to take advantage of it. It would be foolish of us to ignore it."
Debbie, though, insists that it's her talent and not just her looks that have got her where she is. "I wanted to be a singer for a long time, but I never got up in front of an audience and never attempted to do it until I knew I really could do it. I mean, REALLY sing. I prepared. I didn't get up and make a fool of myself. That's the most important thing to me. I don't feel that I am ripping anyone off on that level. I feel that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing and I am using something that I can use."
It is on Plastic Letters, of course that you will find Blondie's tremendously successful hit single Denis. But beware! It isn't typical pf the 'true', more serious, Blondie. So don't expect an album full of jolly singalong pop.
But all those of you in search of the new pop sound of the eighties might need look no further than Blondie. And with Debbie Harry in their line-up, who'd want to?