NME - 29th May 1982
Debs launches Blondiemania memorial tour
BLONDIE'S long-awaited UK tour was this week confirmed officially - just as NME alone has been predicting since the beginning of the year.
Six major concerts at two of Britain's largest venues have been announced so far - Birmingham International Arena at the National Exhibition Centre (Saturday and Sunday, September 11-12) and London Wembley Arena (Thursday to Sunday, September 16-19 inclusive).
Further dates will be announced during the next few weeks, covering different parts of the country - and NME understands that they will include Newcastle City Hall, Glasgow Apollo and at least one other Scottish date. A few short-notice surprise gigs can also be expected, in Rolling Stones style.
Debbie Harry and the band arrived in London last week to launch her newly-published autobiography Making Tracks, Chris Stein's photographic exhibition and the new Blondie album 'The Hunter'. Over the weekend they were in the Scilly Isles filming a video, hopefully returning in time for Debbie's appearance in Top Of The Pops tonight (Thursday). They're then off to Europe for similar promotional exploits.
Tickets for both Birmingham and Wembley are priced £7.80 and £6.80, plus a few with slightly obstructed view at £5.80 (all including 30p booking fee). At present, they are available by post only from "Blondie Box Office" (to whom cheques and POs should be made payable), P.O. Box 281, London N15 5LW - enclose SAE, restrict orders to a maximum of ten tickets per application, and don't forget to state choice of venue and which date preferred. Allow up to six weeks for delivery.
Personal applicants will have to wait three or four weeks before tickets are available through booking agencies, but mail orders can be made immediately. Coach travel and tickets are being arranged by the South West Concert Club, Bailey's, Cavendish Travel, Len Wright Travel and TLCA - see local press for details. There's also a phone number for booking queries: 01-734 0672.
HMV Record Store - 1 page ad for 'The Hunter'.
CAPTURED BY THE GAME
The Hunter (Chrysalis)
PUT ANOTHER dime in the juke-box, baby! Blondie still love graunchy old rock'n'roll! Don't be deceived when they occasionally modify their perfectly-rounded rifferama with a modicum of Moroder or when Dib-Be-Dib-Be-Debbie permits herself the odd nod in the direction of the rap masters. Blondie love rock'n'roll in all its worst excesses. In fact they have been doting over the bloated beast for the past five years.
This is the sixth Blondie album, their worst to date. At a time when the best new British pop is pushing forward at an invigorating post-punk pace, Blondie could hardly sound any safer, saner, stodgier or more senile. Put them in the thriving, vital and alive context of the current UK Top Fifty, for all its foppish flaws, and Blondie are just a bunch of loveless old lags; pale, middle-aged hipsters politely fading into the wallpaper at a house-party for bright young things.
Blondie may have had some spectacular single moments - 'Heart Of Glass' and 'Rapture' were both immense records, simply beyond reproach - but, apart from that breathless, brittle debut LP, they have never been able to produce an attractive album. This is their first for well over a year, excluding Deborah Harry's 'Kookoo' catastrophe of last summer, and you really wonder why they bother: there is nothing remotely new or exciting about 'The Hunter', from its tacky mock-tribal sleeve to the formularised frigidity of the songwriting; from the patent limitations of the Harry voice to those routine rock riffs that da boize in da band return to with such raunchy regularity.
'The Hunter' is ten Blondie originals and one cover, Smokey Robinson's elegant, delicate 'The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game', first recorded by The Marvellettes and quite the strongest song on the album, though still a surprising choice when you consider that Grace Jones recently gave the song a far more radical re-interpretation courtesy of the Sly and Robbie rhythm section at Compass Point.
None of the originals - largely collaborations between Harry and partner Chris Stein with a couple of tracks apiece from bassist Nigel Harrison and keyboard player Jimmy Destri - are in the same class. Had they been sent as demos to a record label, they would have been rejected outright by any quality-conscious A&R man, yet here they are on hard, black vinyl, obscene and embarrassing to the point of grotesque self-parody.
'War Child' retreads the territory of 'Atomic', knee-deep in sexual symbolism, while the current 'Island Of Lost Souls' single is not more than a lame attempt to re-write the 'Tide Is High' hit. Even worse are the two 'epics', the sombre 'Orchid Club' and the preposterous 'Dragonfly', an incredibly indulgent tale of interstellar whacky races which takes the 'Rapture' spaceman rap to ludicrous extremes.
Only on the more straightforward pop stuff - 'For Your Eyes Only', 'Danceway' and 'Find The Right Words' - does Debbie write and sing with feeling and effect, her songs for the most part hitting the depths of desperate mediocrity.
Despite the spectacular flop of 'Kookoo' last year, this album will doubtlessly sell and sell. Sadly, there are still a lot of people around who will buy a Blondie record on face value. On musical merit, however, 'The Hunter' deserves to be the final nail in their coffers.
Blondie's Chris Stein claiming Iggy Pop and The Gun Club as signings to his new Animal Records label...
Ms. Harry gets the H.R. Giger treatment. From 'Making Tracks, The Rise Of Blondie'.
Papering Cracks: The Debbie 'n' Chris Show a Go-Go
IT TAKES TWO HANDS to handle the sort of whopper Wapping reception rock's ruling couple the Harry-Steins threw for themselves last Thursday.
The bash was a dual deal between Chrysalis and Hamish Hamilton (the former pressers of the new Blondie LP 'The Hunter', the latter publishers of Stein & Harry's group auto-biog 'Making Tracks'). The corporations had laid on an extensive and highly decorative repast (including five sorts of picturesque seasonal cocktail) only to see it demolished in seconds by art-seekers who'd squirmed their way past the frisking team at the front door.
Debs 'circulated', a Kirilian aura of flashbulbs marking her progress, whilst the sharply dressed Stein stood and chatted affably to all comers. After conceding with maximum graciousness that their objective in all this was "to seel as many of our products as possible", the pair made a neat low-key exit, leaving the floor to the wode range of celebs (from Genesis P Orridge to Richard Strange.)
Hopefully at least some of the cocktail quaffers were hot on their visuals, since the one thing this open house displayed was Stein's marked improvement as a photographer in his own right. Many of the shots were not of Blondie or Debbie, and the whole thing is good value for nostalgists/enthusiasts of the original punkoid period in all its humours.
Interesting stuff all, actually, and at an average height and width of 3'x 1½' or so more fun to look at than their sized-down, flattened-out repros in the book. The text of 'Making Tracks' (by Debbie, with large doses of Victor Interview Bockris behind the general tone, which is mucho post-Popism) is more than a bit of a bland-out. So if you're going to buy it - whether for Chris' photos alone or to actually read - be sure to pick up Lester Bangs' unauthorised version, too. Or you'll miss out on the motives behind some of those pervoid expressions the Stein lens has