In many ways, Blondie were the odd band out in the heady days of CBGB-era New York City. They didn't have the art school motif of bands like Television and Talking Heads, or the brute force of the Ramones or Dead Boys.
And yet, they ultimately became the most commercially successful group to emerge from that scene. They did it with a unique vision of rock and roll which drew on aspects of both those elements while embracing a love for the sounds of '60s girl groups, garage bands and British Invasion rock and roll. Throw that all in the blender along with some killer songs, dynamic playing and the wit and charm of Debbie Harry at the front, and you have Blondie.
From their self-titled debut through 1980's game-changing Autoamerican album, Blondie were consistently evolving and adding colors to their palate as they defined their distinct style. At their peak, they blurred the lines between rock, reggae, punk, disco and even rap with hit singles such as "Heart of Glass," "Rapture" and "The Tide Is High." Following 1982's The Hunter, the band dissolved for a variety of reasons, including the health issues facing guitarist Chris Stein.
Happily, it turns out that wasn't the end of the story. Instead, Blondie has enjoyed a very productive and creatively rewarding second chapter. The original lineup, sans bassist Gary Valentine, reunited in 1999 and have soldiered on in one form or another ever since, touring and recording new material – including 2017's Pollinator.
Blondie, who grew out of the CBGB's scene in NYC in the mid-70s, are one of the best new-wave bands of all time. Fronted by Debbie Harry, Blondie paved the way for many bands, creating some incredible music throughout their career. This is crowd-voted list of the best Blondie albums, including pictures of the album covers, will help us all determine which is their best. This Blondie discography is ranked from best to worst, so the top Blondie albums can be found at the top of the list. To make it easy for you, we haven't included Blondie singles, EPs, or compilations, so everything you see here should only be studio albums. If you think the greatest Blondie album isn't high enough on the list, then be sure to vote for it so it receives the credit it deserves. Make sure you don't just vote for critically acclaimed albums; if you have a favorite Blondie album, then vote it up, even if it's not necessarily the most popular.
If you want to know, "What is the Best Blondie album of all time?" or "What are the top Blondie albums?" then this list will answer your questions. The list you're viewing is made up of many different albums, like Parallel Lines and Eat to the Beat.
This list of popular Blondie albums has been voted on by music fans around the world, so the order of this list isn't just one person's opinion.
This is the discography of American new wave band Blondie. Since 1976 they have released 11 studio albums, 4 live albums, 14 compilation albums, 3 remix albums and 38 singles. The band has sold an estimated 40 million albums.
* The band's debut album, Blondie, did not chart in the UK following its original release, but charted in March 1979 after it was re-released by Chrysalis Records.
† Ghosts of Download was released as part of a 2-disc set titled Blondie 4(0) Ever, which includes the album along with a disc titled Greatest Hits Deluxe Redux, which contains new re-recordings of the band's biggest hits.
† Greatest Hits Deluxe Redux was released as part of a 2-disc set titled Blondie 4(0) Ever, which includes Ghosts of Download, the band's 10th studio album.
* "One Way or Another" was not released as a single in the UK, but charted from downloads in 2013 after a cover/mash-up of the song was released by One Direction and reached number one.
Billboard Year-End performances
- A^ "The Tide Is High" charted on the BillboardAdult Contemporary chart, reaching #3.
"Rapture" charted on both the R&B Songs and Mainstream Rock charts, reaching #33 and #35 respectively.
The 1994 remix of "Rapture" charted on the Hot Dance Singles chart, reaching #35.
The 1995 remixes of "Heart of Glass" and "Union City Blue" both charted on the Hot Dance Singles chart, peaking at #11 and #30 respectively.
"Maria" peaked at #14 on the BillboardAdult Top 40 chart and at #3 on the Hot Dance Singles chart.
- B^ "Heart of Glass" and "Island of Lost Souls" also both reached #1 on the RPM Adult Contemporary chart. "One Way or Another" and "Maria" reached #7 and #28 respectively on the same chart.
- C^Christmas single made available for free download on Blondie's official website.
- D^ An outtake from the Panic of Girls sessions of 2011, posted on Deborah Harry's website as a free download including cover art and credits.
- E^ In 2012, the band released several tracks for free download via Amazon and on the band's website. "Bride of Infinity", "Dead Air" and "Rock On" were put online on October 10, in order to coincide with the band's performance on YouTube Presents, while "Practice Makes Perfect" was released in November.
- F^ "Kidnapper" is a Japanese-only release; "Heroes" (also released as a B-side to the "Atomic" single) is a German 12-inch maxi-only release; "Heart of Glass '88" is an Australian- and French-only release.
- G^ "Long Time" also reached #19 on the US Adult Alternative Songs chart.
† Live at CBGB's 1977 was released as a bonus DVD in the deluxe edition of Blondie 4(0) Ever, which includes Greatest Hits Deluxe Redux and Ghosts of Download, the band's 10th studio album.
|1977||"In the Flesh"||Richard Robinson & Bob Gruen|
|"In the Sun"|
|1978||"(I'm Always Touched By Your) Presence, Dear"|
|"Hanging on the Telephone"||David Mallet|
|1979||"Heart of Glass"||Stanley Dorfman|
|"The Hardest Part"|
|"Union City Blue"|
|"Eat to the Beat"|
|"Accidents Never Happen"|
|"Die Young Stay Pretty"|
|"Living in the Real World"|
|"The Tide Is High"||Hart Perry|
|"Rapture"||Keith MacMillan & John Weaver|
|1982||"Island of Lost Souls"||Keith MacMillan|
|"Nothing Is Real But the Girl"||?|
|2003||"Good Boys"||Jonas Åkerlund|
|2009||"We Three Kings"||?|
|2014||"Sugar on the Side"||Rankin|
|"Doom or Destiny"||Rob Roth|
American rock band
Blondie is an American rock band co-founded by singer Debbie Harry and guitarist Chris Stein. The band was a pioneer in the American new wave scene of the mid-1970s in New York. Their first two albums contained strong elements of these genres, and although highly successful in the United Kingdom and Australia, Blondie was regarded as an underground band in the United States until the release of Parallel Lines in 1978. Over the next five years, the band achieved several hit singles including "Heart of Glass", "Call Me", "Atomic", and "The Tide Is High". The band became noted for its eclectic mix of musical styles, incorporating elements of disco, pop, reggae, and early rap music.
Blondie disbanded after the release of its sixth studio album, The Hunter, in 1982. Debbie Harry continued to pursue a solo career with varied results after taking a few years off to care for partner Chris Stein, who was diagnosed with pemphigus, a rare autoimmune disease of the skin. The band re-formed in 1997, achieving renewed success and a number one single in the United Kingdom with "Maria" in 1999, exactly 20 years after their first UK No. 1 single ("Heart of Glass").
The group toured and performed throughout the world during the following years, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. Blondie has sold around 40 million records worldwide and is still active. The band's eleventh studio album, Pollinator, was released on May 5, 2017.
1974–1978: Early career
Inspired by the burgeoning new music scene at the Mercer Arts Center in Manhattan, Chris Stein sought to join a similar band. He joined the Stilettoes in 1973 as their guitarist and formed a romantic relationship with one of the band's vocalists, Debbie Harry, a former waitress and Playboy Bunny. Harry had been a member of a folk-rock band, the Wind in the Willows, in the late 1960s. In July 1974, Stein and Harry parted ways with the Stilettoes and Elda Gentile, the band's originator, forming a new band with ex-Stilettoes bandmates Billy O'Connor (drums; born October 4, 1953, Germany, died March 29, 2015, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) and Fred Smith (bass). Originally billed as Angel and the Snake for two shows in August 1974, they renamed themselves Blondie by October 1974. The name derived from comments made by truck drivers who catcalled "Hey, Blondie" to Harry as they drove past.
By the spring of 1975, after some personnel turnover (including Ivan Kral on guitar and sisters Tish Bellomo and Snooky Bellomo on backing vocals), Stein and Harry were joined by drummer Clem Burke and bass player Gary Lachman. Blondie became regular performers at Max's Kansas City and CBGB. In June 1975, the band's first recording came in the way of a demo produced by Alan Betrock. To fill out their sound, they recruited keyboard player Jimmy Destri in November 1975. The band signed with Private Stock Records and their debut album, Blondie, was issued in December 1976 but was initially not a commercial success. In September 1977, the band bought back its contract with Private Stock and signed with British label Chrysalis Records. The first album was re-released on the new label in October 1977. Rolling Stone's review of the debut album observed the eclectic nature of the group's music, comparing it to Phil Spector and the Who, and commented that the album's two strengths were Richard Gottehrer's production and the persona of Debbie Harry. The publication said she performed with "utter aplomb and involvement throughout: even when she's portraying a character consummately obnoxious and spaced-out, there is a wink of awareness that is comforting and amusing yet never condescending." It also noted that Harry was the "possessor of a bombshell zombie's voice that can sound dreamily seductive and woodenly Mansonite within the same song".
Blondie opened for David Bowie and Iggy Pop on the latter's tour in early 1977 supporting The Idiot. The band was invited by Bowie and Pop after the pair had heard the band's debut album. The band's first commercial success occurred in Australia in 1977, when the music television program Countdown mistakenly played their video "In the Flesh", which was the B-side of their then current single "X-Offender". Jimmy Destri later credited the show's Molly Meldrum for their initial success, commenting that "we still thank him to this day" for playing the wrong song. In a 1998 interview, drummer Clem Burke recalled seeing the episode in which the wrong song was played, but he and Chris Stein suggested that it may have been a deliberate subterfuge on the part of Meldrum. Stein asserted that "X-Offender" was "too crazy and aggressive [to become a hit]", while "In the Flesh" was "not representative of any punk sensibility. Over the years, I've thought they probably played both things but liked one better. That's all." In retrospect, Burke described "In the Flesh" as "a forerunner to the power ballad".
The single reached number 2 in Australia, while the album reached the Australian top twenty in November 1977, and a subsequent double-A release of "X-Offender" and "Rip Her to Shreds" reached number 81. A successful Australian tour followed in December, though it was marred by an incident in Brisbane when disappointed fans almost rioted after Harry cancelled a performance due to illness.
In February 1978, Blondie released their second album, Plastic Letters (UK No. 10, US No. 78, Australia No. 64). The album was recorded as a four-piece as Gary Valentine had left the band in mid 1977.Plastic Letters was promoted extensively throughout Europe and Asia by Chrysalis Records. The album's first single, "Denis", was a cover version of the Randy and the Rainbows' 1963 hit "Denise". It reached number two on the British singles charts, while both the album and its second single, "(I'm Always Touched by Your) Presence, Dear", reached the British top ten. Chart success, along with a successful 1978 UK tour, including a gig at London's Roundhouse, made Blondie one of the first American new wave bands to achieve mainstream success in the United Kingdom. By this time, Gary Valentine had left and been replaced by Frank Infante (guitar, bass guitar). With this lineup in place for a short time, British musician Nigel Harrison was hired as the group's full-time bassist, expanding Blondie to a six-piece for the first time in its history and thus allowing Infante to switch to guitar. The band's line-up had stabilized.
1978–1981: Mainstream success
Blondie's third album, Parallel Lines (UK No. 1, US No. 6, Australia No. 2), was released in September 1978. Produced by Mike Chapman, it finally broke the band into the American market on the strength of the worldwide hit single "Heart of Glass". Parallel Lines became the group's most successful album, selling 20 million copies worldwide. The album's first two singles were "Picture This" (UK No. 12) and "Hanging on the Telephone" (UK No. 5). Because the biggest hit from Blondie's previous album Plastic Letters was "Denis", a cover of Randy & The Rainbows' 1963 song "Denise", Chrysalis Records chose Buddy Holly's "I'm Gonna Love You Too" as the lead single from Parallel Lines in the United States. This turned out to be a miscalculation as the single failed to chart. The song was eventually released as a single in a few other countries in 1979.
"Heart of Glass" was released in early 1979 and the disco-infused track topped the UK charts in February 1979 and the US charts in April 1979. It was a reworking of a rock and reggae-influenced song that the group had performed since its formation in the mid 1970s, updated with strong elements of disco music. Clem Burke later said the revamped version was inspired partly by Kraftwerk and partly by the Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive", whose drum beat Burke tried to emulate. He and Stein gave Jimmy Destri much of the credit for the final result, noting that Destri's appreciation of technology had led him to introduce synthesizers and to rework the keyboard sections. Although some critics condemned Blondie for "selling out" by dabbling in disco, the song became a monumental worldwide success and became one of the biggest selling singles of 1979. The song was accompanied by a music video filmed at a club in New York City (incorrectly surmised[by whom?] as being Studio 54 due to a shot of its exterior at the start of the video). The music video showcased Harry's hard-edged and playfully sexual character, as well as her famously stiff, marginally disinterested persona. She began to attain a celebrity status that set her apart from the other band members, who were largely ignored by the media.
Blondie's next single in the US was a more aggressive rock song, "One Way or Another" (US No. 24), though in the UK, an alternate single choice, "Sunday Girl", became a No. 1 hit.Parallel Lines is ranked No. 140 on Rolling Stone's list of 500 greatest albums of all time. In June 1979, Blondie, photographed by Annie Leibovitz, was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.
Blondie's fourth album, Eat to the Beat (UK No. 1, US No. 17, Australia No. 9), was released in September 1979. Though well received by critics as a suitable follow-up to Parallel Lines, the album and its singles failed to achieve the same level of success in the US. In the UK, the album delivered three top 20 hits, including the band's third UK number one ("Atomic", UK No. 1, US No. 39). The lead track off the album, "Dreaming", narrowly missed the top spot in the UK, but only made it to number 27 in the US. "Union City Blue" (UK No. 13) was not released in the US in favor of the track "The Hardest Part". In a daring move, Chrysalis Records' Linda Carhart asked Jon Roseman Productions US division to shoot videos for every song and make it the first ever video album. David Mallet directed and Paul Flattery produced it at various locations and studios in and around New York.
Blondie's next single, the Grammy-nominated "Call Me", was the result of Debbie Harry's collaboration with the Italian songwriter and producer Giorgio Moroder, who had been responsible for Donna Summer's biggest hits. The track was recorded as the title theme of the Richard Gere film American Gigolo. Released in February 1980 in the US, "Call Me" spent six consecutive weeks at No. 1 in the US and Canada, reached No. 1 in the U.K. (where it was released in April 1980) and became a hit throughout the world. The single was also No. 1 on Billboard magazine's 1980 year-end chart. In the summer of 1980, the band appeared in a bit part in the film Roadie starring Meat Loaf. Blondie performed the Johnny Cash song "Ring of Fire". The live recording was featured on the film soundtrack, and on a later CD reissue of the Eat to the Beat album.
In November 1980, Blondie's fifth studio album, Autoamerican (UK No. 3, US No. 7, Australia No. 8) was released; it contained two more No. 1 US hits: the reggae-styled "The Tide Is High", a cover version of a 1967 song written by John Holt of the Paragons, and the rap-flavored "Rapture", which was the first song featuring rapping to reach number one in the US. In the song Harry mentions the hip hop and graffiti artist Fab Five Freddy who also appears in the video for the song. Autoamerican featured a far wider stylistic range than previous Blondie albums, including the avant-garde instrumental "Europa", the acoustic jazz of "Faces", and "Follow Me" (from the Broadway show "Camelot"). The album went on to achieve platinum success in both the United States and the United Kingdom.
1981–1982: Hiatus, The Hunter, and breakup
Following their success of 1978–80, Blondie took a brief break in 1981. That year, Debbie Harry and Jimmy Destri both released solo albums; Stein worked on Harry's album KooKoo (UK No. 6, US No. 28) and Burke with Destri's Heart on a Wall. Burke went to Europe to play drums on Eurythmics' debut album In The Garden. Harry, Stein and Destri also worked together on music for the 1981 John Waters film Polyester. Frank Infante sued the band regarding a lack of involvement during the Autoamerican sessions; it was settled out of court, and Infante remained in the band (though Harry has subsequently said Infante was not on the next LP, despite appearing on the front cover). Around this time Harry also was cultivating an acting career that included a high-profile appearance in 1980's Roadie and later David Cronenberg's Videodrome in 1983.
In October 1981, Chrysalis Records released The Best of Blondie (UK No. 4, US No. 30, Australia No. 1), the group's first greatest hits compilation. The band reconvened in late 1981 to record a new album, The Hunter, released in May 1982 (UK No. 9, US No. 33, Australia No. 15). In contrast to their earlier commercial and critical successes, The Hunter was poorly received. The album did have two moderate hit singles: "Island of Lost Souls" (UK# 11, US No. 37, Australia No. 13) and "War Child" (UK No. 39). The album also included "For Your Eyes Only", a track the band had been commissioned to write and record for the 1981 James Bond film of the same name, but was rejected by the film's producers (the producers ultimately chose another song with that title that would be recorded by Sheena Easton).
In June 1982 Harry contributed backing vocals to The Gun Club's second album Miami, being credited as 'D.H. Lawrence Jr' while Chris Stein also produced the record, and is credited as 'bongos' and 'cover photos/design'. The Gun Club's singer Jeffrey Lee Pierce was a super-fan, emulating Harry's hairstyle and founding the West Coast Blondie Fan Club, before becoming friends with the band in New York.
For the brief North American tour (July–August 1982) to promote the Hunter album, guitarist Frank Infante was replaced with session musician Eddie Martinez. Also added to the live lineup were second keyboardist Abel Domingues, and a three-man horn section (Douglas Harris, Joseph Kohanski, and Arthur Pugh.) The concert tour was not particularly successful, with shows typically playing to less-than-capacity crowds.
With tensions within the band on the rise due to the act's commercial decline and the attendant financial pressures that brought, as well as the constant press focus on Harry to the exclusion of the other band members, events reached a breaking point when Stein was diagnosed with the life-threatening illness pemphigus.
As a result of Stein's illness, coupled with drug use by members of the band, financial mismanagement, and slow concert ticket sales, Blondie canceled their European tour plans early in August 1982. Shortly thereafter, the band broke up, with at least one (unspecified) member quitting and instigating lawsuits against the other group members. The band's breakup was announced publicly in November 1982.
Stein and Harry, still a couple at the time, stayed together and retreated from the public spotlight for a while. Harry made attempts to resume her solo career in the mid-1980s, but two singles (1983's "Rush Rush", from the film Scarface, and 1985's "Feel The Spin") met with little success. Harry was forced to sell the couple's five-story mansion to pay off debts that the band had run up, Stein owed in excess of $1 million, and drug use was becoming an increasing problem for them both. Harry decided to end her intimate relationship with Stein and moved downtown. She stated in a 2006 interview that she felt she was having a sort of breakdown due to all the stress. After Stein recovered from his illness, Harry resumed her solo career with the album Rockbird in 1986, with active participation from Stein. The album was a moderate success in the UK where it reached gold certification and gave her a UK Top 10 hit with "French Kissin' in the USA". Meanwhile, Burke became a much-in-demand session drummer, playing and touring with Eurythmics for their 1986 album Revenge, and Destri maintained an active career as a producer and session musician.
A remix album entitled Once More into the Bleach was released in 1988, and featured remixes of classic Blondie tracks and material from Harry's solo career.
1997–2007: Re-formation, No Exit and The Curse of Blondie
During the 1980s and 1990s, Blondie's past work began to be recognized again by a new generation of fans and artists including Garbage and No Doubt.Chrysalis/EMI Records also released several compilations and collections of remixed versions of some of its biggest hits.
Harry continued her moderately successful solo career after the band broke up, releasing albums in 1989 and 1993 which helped keep the band in the public eye. In 1990, she reunited with Stein and Burke for a summer tour of mid-sized venues as part of an "Escape from New York" package with Jerry Harrison, the Tom Tom Club and the Ramones.
In 1996, Stein and Harry began the process of reuniting Blondie and contacted original members Burke, Destri, and Valentine. Valentine had by this time moved to London and become a full-time writer under his real name, Gary Lachman; his New York Rocker: My Life in the Blank Generation (2002) is a memoir of his years with the band. Former members Nigel Harrison and Frank Infante did not participate in the reunion, and they unsuccessfully sued to prevent the reunion under the name Blondie.
In 1997, the original five-piece band re-formed, including Valentine on bass, and did three live performances, all at outdoor festivals sponsored by local radio stations. Their first reunion performance occurred on May 31, 1997, when they played the HFStival at R.F.K. Stadium in Washington, DC. An international tour in late 1998 and early 1999 followed. During this period, without Valentine, they released a cover of Iggy Pop's song "Ordinary Bummer" on the tribute album We Will Fall: The Iggy Pop Tribute (1997) under the pseudonym "Adolph's Dog".
A new album, No Exit (UK No. 3, US No. 18), was released in February 1999. The band was now officially a four-piece, consisting of Harry, Stein, Burke and Destri. Valentine by this point had left the group, and did not play on the album or contribute to the writing of any songs (two songs on the album co-authored by "Valentine" were in fact co-authored by Kathy Valentine of the Go-Go's, no relation to Gary Valentine). Session musicians Leigh Foxx (bass) and Paul Carbonara (guitar) played on this and subsequent Blondie releases.
"Maria" was Blondie's late-1990s number one single in the UK.
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No Exit reached number three on the UK charts, and the first single, "Maria", which Destri had written thinking about his high school days, became Blondie's sixth UK number one single exactly 20 years after their first chart-topper, "Heart of Glass". This gave the band the distinction of being one of only two American acts to reach number one in the UK singles charts in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s (the other being Michael Jackson who had No. 1 hits with the Jacksons and solo in the same decades).
The re-formed band released the follow-up album The Curse of Blondie (UK No. 36, US No. 160) in October 2003. Curse proved to be Blondie's lowest-charting album since their debut in 1976, although the single "Good Boys" managed to reach number 12 on the UK charts.
In 2004, Jimmy Destri left the group in order to deal with drug addiction, leaving Harry, Stein and Burke as the only members of the original line-up still with the band. Though Destri's stint in rehab was successful, he was not invited back into the band. He intended to work on their 2011 album Panic Of Girls, but did not contribute as either a songwriter or a musician to the finished product.
In 2005 a new CD/DVD hits package titled Greatest Hits: Sight + Sound was released, peaking at #48 in the UK.
Blondie co-headlined a tour with the New Cars in 2006, releasing a new song, a cover of Roxy Music hit "More than This", in support of the tour.
2008–2012: Parallel Lines 30th Anniversary Tour and Panic of Girls
On June 5, 2008, Blondie commenced a world tour to celebrate the 30th anniversary ofParallel Lines with a concert at Ram's Head Live in Baltimore, Maryland. The tour covered some Eastern and Midwestern US cities throughout the month of June. In July, the tour took the band overseas to Israel, the UK, Russia, Europe and Scandinavia, wrapping up on August 4, 2008, at Store Vega in Copenhagen, Denmark. Inspired by attendances for the tour, Clem Burke and Paul Carbonara both told interviewers in 2008 and 2009 that the band was working on another record, which would be their first new album since the release of The Curse of Blondie in 2003. Carbonara described it as "a real Blondie record."
Blondie undertook a North American tour of mid-sized venues with Pat Benatar and the Donnas in the summer of 2009. Following the tour, in October, the band began recording sessions for their ninth studio album with producer Jeff Saltzman in Woodstock, New York. After playing with the band for over a decade, both Leigh Foxx (bass) and Paul Carbonara (guitar) were elevated to official membership status with Blondie; keyboard player Matt Katz-Bohen, who had replaced Destri, was also made an official member, making Blondie a six-piece band.
In December 2009, the band released the song "We Three Kings" to coincide with the Christmas holiday. The new album, to be titled Panic of Girls, which was being mixed at the time, was said to be ready to follow in 2010. Chris Stein stated that Dutch artist Chris Berens would provide the cover art. In April 2010, it was announced that guitarist Paul Carbonara had amicably left Blondie to pursue other projects and was replaced by Tommy Kessler (the finished Panic of Girls album credits both Kessler and Carbonara as official members).
In June 2010, Blondie began the first leg of a world tour named "Endangered Species Tour", which covered the United Kingdom and Ireland, supported by UK band Little Fish. The set lists featured both classics and new material from the forthcoming Panic of Girls. After a break in July, the tour resumed in August and covered the United States and Canada over a course of six weeks. Blondie then took the "Endangered Species Tour" to Australia and New Zealand in November–December 2010, co-headlining with the Pretenders.
It was first revealed that the band's album was going to be released first in Australia through the Australian Sony label in December 2010, but Sony later backed out of the deal, leaving the album still unreleased. The album's release date was finally set for mid-2011 without the involvement of a major record label. The album was first released in May 2011 as a limited edition "fan pack" in the UK with a 132-page magazine and various collectible items, before being released as a regular CD later in the summer. The lead single, "Mother", was released beforehand as a free download. A music video for the song was released on May 18, 2011. It was directed by Laurent Rejto and features cameos by Kate Pierson from the B-52's, James Lorinz (Frankenhooker), Johnny Dynell, Chi-Chi Valenti, the Dazzle Dancers, Rob Roth, Barbara Sicuranza, Larry Fessenden, Alan Midgette (Andy's double), The Five Points Band, Guy Furrow, Kitty Boots and Hattie Hathaway. A second single from the album, "What I Heard", was available as a digital release in July 2011
On August 20, 2011, Blondie performed a live set for "Guitar Center Sessions" on DirecTV. The episode included an interview with program host Nic Harcourt.
The band continued to tour regularly into 2012. A concert in New York City was streamed live on YouTube on October 11, 2012. The same week, the band listed three previously unreleased songs recorded during the Panic of Girls sessions ("Bride of Infinity", "Rock On", and "Dead Air") on Amazon.com which were made available for free download in the United States, and in the UK via the band's official website. Another track, "Practice Makes Perfect", was also made available as a free download in November 2012.
2013–present: Ghosts of Download and Pollinator
On March 20, 2013, Harry and Stein were interviewed on the radio show WNYC Soundcheck in which they confirmed they were working on a new Blondie album and previewed a new song entitled "Make a Way". In June and July 2013, the band held a Blast Off Tour of Europe. The US "No Principals Tour" followed in September and October 2013. The first single from the album, "A Rose by Any Name", was released digitally in Europe on June 24, 2013. A second single, "Sugar on the Side", was released digitally in the United States in December 2013.
The album, Ghosts of Download, was released in May 2014 as part of a two-disc package titled Blondie 4(0) Ever (to coincide with the band's 40th anniversary), which also includes Greatest Hits Deluxe Redux, a compilation of re-recordings of Blondie's past singles. The band's official worldwide 40th anniversary tour began in February 2014.
The band announced in the summer of 2015 they would be working on a new album produced by John Congleton. Other collaborators are Johnny Marr, Sia, Charli XCX and Dave Stewart. Blondie recorded a concert for PBS's Soundstage to be aired some time in 2016 and included two new tracks, "My Monster" and "Gravity".
In 2015, Blondie members Harry and Stein made a guest appearance alongside The Gregory Brothers in an episode of the YouTube series Songify the News, where they collaborated again to parody the 2016 United States presidential election debates.
It was announced in January 2017 that the band would support Phil Collins on June 25, 2017, at Dublin's Aviva Stadium as part of his Not Dead Yet tour. The band also toured Australia and New Zealand on a co-headlining tour with Cyndi Lauper.
In the March 2017 issue of Mojo magazine, the band announced that their eleventh studio album, Pollinator, would be released on May 5, 2017. The album was recorded at The Magic Shop in SoHo, New York City, and featured songs written by the likes of TV on the Radio's David Sitek, Johnny Marr, Sia, Charli XCX, and Dev Hynes.Pollinator spawned hit singles "Fun" and "Long Time" and embarked Blondie on an extensive promotional tour in North, Central and South America and Europe. It is Blondie's most successful album since No Exit.
On December 21, 2019, Blondie announced through their social media that they would release an EP and mini-documentary entitled Vivir en La Habana. It was recorded during the band's residency in Havana, Cuba, in March 2019, and directed by Rob Roth but no dates or further details were revealed yet. The EP is not entirely a "live" recording as Chris Stein, who was not present at the Havana concerts, added guitar parts in the studio to enhance the live tracks. In October 2020, Debbie Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie appeared in Schmoyoho's parody of the 2020 United States presidential debates between Vice Presidential candidates Kamala Harris and Mike Pence in a song titled "One Heartbeat Away", where they played the role of moderators.
On October 20, 2020, Blondie announced that they would be embarking on a ten-date arena tour of the UK in November 2021 with Garbage as the opening act.
Style and legacy
By 1982, the year the band initially broke up, Blondie had released six studio albums, each exhibiting a stylistic progression from the last. The band is known not only for the striking stage persona and vocal performances of Harry but also for incorporating elements in their work from numerous subgenres of music, reaching from their punk roots to embrace new wave, disco,pop,rap, and reggae.
In March 2006, Blondie, following an introductory speech by Shirley Manson of Garbage, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Seven members (Harry, Stein, Burke, Destri, Infante, Harrison and Valentine) were invited to the ceremony, which led to an on-stage spat between the extant group and their former bandmate Frank Infante, who asked during the live broadcast of the ceremony that he and Nigel Harrison be allowed to perform with the group, a request refused by Harry who stated that the band had already rehearsed their performance. On May 22, 2006, Blondie was inducted into the Rock Walk of Fame at Guitar Center on Hollywood's Sunset Boulevard. New inductees are voted on by previous Rock Walk inductees.
- Fred Smith – bass (1974–1975)
- Billy O'Connor – drums (1974-1975)
- Ivan Kral – guitar (1974)
- Gary Valentine – bass, guitar (1975–1977, 1997)
- Jimmy Destri – keyboards, backing vocals (1975–1982, 1997–2004)
- Frank Infante – guitar, bass, backing vocals (1977–1982)
- Nigel Harrison – bass (1978–1982, 1997)
- Paul Carbonara – guitar, backing vocals (1997–2010)
- Kevin Patrick (a.k.a. Kevin Topping) – keyboards, backing vocals (2003–2007)
- Jimi K Bones – guitar (2003)
Main article: Blondie discography
Awards and nominations
Notes and references
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- ^Valentine, Gary (2002). New York Rocker: My Life In The Blank Generation With Blondie, Iggy Pop and Others 1974-1981. London: Sidgwick & Jackson. pp. 184–185. ISBN . Valentine describes his July 4, 1977, departure from the band.
- ^Grey, Philip. "In Pictures: My memories of Blondie, 1978". 50.roundhouse.org.uk. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
- ^ abTaylor, Chuck (March 18, 2006). "Blondie". Billboard. Retrieved February 25, 2010.
- ^ abcGrundy, Gareth, "Blondie record Parallel Lines", The Guardian (UK), Friday June 10, 2011. "June 1978: Number 22 in our series of the 50 key events in the history of pop music"
- ^ abcdefPareles, Jon, "POP REVIEW; No Debutante: Blondie Returns to Its Roots", The New York Times, February 25, 1999.
- ^ abCashmere, Paul (1998). "The Blondie Interview". Undercover Media. Archived from the original on November 21, 2007. Retrieved July 24, 2006.
- ^Simpson, Dave (April 29, 2013). "How we made: Heart of Glass". The Guardian. London, England. Retrieved April 29, 2013.
- ^"140) Parallel Lines". Rolling Stone. November 1, 2003. Archived from the original on April 23, 2006. Retrieved February 25, 2010.
- ^James, Jamie (June 28, 1979). "Platinum Blondie". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on February 27, 2007. Retrieved March 2, 2010.
- ^"Heart on a Wall". blondie.net. 1981. Retrieved February 25, 2010. The back cover credits of Jimmy Destri's 1981 LP lists "Drums: Clem Burke".
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- ^"THE GUN CLUB MIAMI ANIMAL RECORDS 12" LP VINYL". Flickr.com. November 17, 2012. Retrieved September 16, 2020.
- ^"G is for…The Gun Club! 'Miami'". Eddiesrockmusic.wordpress.com. November 26, 2018. Retrieved September 16, 2020.
- ^ abEnd credits of Blondie Live it Toronto video
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- ^Goddard, Peter (November 12, 1982). "Blondie splits". Toronto Star, page D8.
- ^"Blondie Announces Release of Greatest Hits – Sound & Vision, Featuring Brand New Mash-Up With The Doors". PRNewsWire.com. Press Release. Retrieved September 7, 2006.
- ^"Tom Tom Club, Ramones Rev Up 'Escape' Road Show". Chicago Tribune. July 18, 1990. Retrieved April 21, 2017.
- ^Valentine, Gary (2002). New York Rocker: My Life In The Blank Generation With Blondie, Iggy Pop and Others 1974-1981. London: Sidgwick & Jackson. ISBN . This fact is stated on the back cover of the book, which is his second published work.
- ^"Rock Hall gives Blondie newfound credibility". MSNBC. The Associated Press. March 10, 2006. Retrieved February 25, 2010.
- ^"HFSTIVAL". Rolling Stone. June 3, 1997. Retrieved March 2, 2010.[dead link]
- ^"Blondie gig list". blondie.net. Retrieved September 28, 2007.
- ^Erlewine, Thomas. "We Will Fall: The Iggy Pop Tribute > Overview". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved October 23, 2013.
- ^Foxx had been in Harry's backing band as early as her January 17, 1987, musical guest appearance on Saturday Night Live, later touring with her on the 1990 "Escape from New York" tour before both became members of the re-formed band's formal lineup in 1997.
- ^"Blondie online chat". Blondie.net. December 6, 1999. Retrieved July 23, 2006.
- ^"Jimmy Destri". Blondie.net. Retrieved April 2, 2007.
- ^Graff, Gary (August 17, 2010). "Blondie to Spread 'Panic' with First Album in 7 Years". Billboard.
- ^"LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL...AGAIN!". blondie.net. March 14, 2006. Retrieved January 12, 2014.
- ^Thompson, Jody (July 7, 2008). "Exclusive: Blondie to release brand new album". Mirror.co.uk. Retrieved August 26, 2008.
- ^Green, Mike (May 3, 2009). "Paul Carbonara Interview". Century Road Club Association. Archived from the original on July 24, 2009. Retrieved July 24, 2009.
- ^"Jeff Saltzman". McDonough Management LLC. Archived from the original on February 3, 2009. Retrieved March 1, 2010.
- ^Album cover. Chris Stein's blog. February 23, 2010.
- ^"ENDANGERED SPECIES TOUR (UK/Ireland)". deborah-harry.com. June 13, 2010. Archived from the original on November 21, 2013. Retrieved November 21, 2013.
- ^"Free download of "Mother" now available!". blondie.net. December 5, 2010. Retrieved November 21, 2013.
- ^"VIDEO CREDITS". blondie.net. May 18, 2011. Retrieved November 21, 2013.
- ^Guitar Center Sessions with host Nic Harcourt Retrieved October 10, 2013.
- ^"Soundcheck WYNC "Blondie shares brand new song" (20 March 2013)". Archived from the original on August 16, 2013. Retrieved September 16, 2020.
- ^"New Song "Sugar on the Side" Now Available on iTunes (US/Canada Only)!". Blondie.net. December 17, 2013. Retrieved April 21, 2017.
- ^"V.F. Portrait: Debbie Harry". Vanity Fair. February 2014. Retrieved April 21, 2017.
- ^"Blondie: BLONDIE News: February 2016". Blondie.fanbridge.com. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
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- ^The Gregory Brothers; featuring Blondie (September 27, 2016), "Trump vs. Clinton (ft. Blondie) – Songify 2016", Songify the News, YouTube, retrieved October 24, 2016CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
- ^"Blondie Touring Australia With Cyndi Lauper In April". Blondie.net. October 29, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2017.
- ^Gilbert, Pat (March 2017). "Mojo Working: Blondie". Mojo. No. 280. ISSN 1351-0193.
- ^Blondie (December 21, 2019). "Coming soon... the Vivir en La Habana EP and mini documentary series". Facebook. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
- ^Ryan, Gary (October 20, 2020). "Blondie's Debbie Harry on their 2021 UK tour with Garbage and how she wishes she'd written 'WAP'". NME. Retrieved August 27, 2021.
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- ^Ruhlmann, William. "Autoamerican – Blondie". AllMusic. Retrieved November 29, 2011.
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- ^"Mayhem and Conflict at the Hall of Fame!!!". Blondie.net. Retrieved November 21, 2017.
- ^Montgomery, James (March 14, 2006). "Metallica Thud, Blondie Feud At Rock Hall Of Fame Ceremony". MTV. Retrieved July 24, 2006.
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Order in blondie albums
Blondie Albums From Worst To Best
When music critics talk about the reasons “punk had to happen,” they’re usually making accusations about how bloated and corporate arena rock was getting in the mid ’70s, or about how music was losing its sense of rebellious teenage fun. But the fact is that little of that actually matters in the face of its most lingering effect: its ability to narrow the gaps between artsiness and catchiness, being cool and being kind of a dork, teen stoopid and grown-up clever, pop stardom and the self-aware subversion of what that kind of status even meant. And out of all the first-wave New York bands to run around in that free-for-all landscape, Blondie came the closest to embodying all those paradoxes to a truly mass audience.
Deborah Harry, who spent the tail end of the ’60s honing her jaded-angel voice in hippie psych-folkie band The Wind in the Willows, went on to nail the goofiness and heartbreak of teenage rock’n’pop angst like only a knowing thirtysomething could, toying with the idea of being a sex symbol who knew what a mess sex symbolism really was. And the dynamic between traditional girl-group pop attraction and ensemble-cast rock band was fascinatingly blurred. Guitarist Chris Stein, keyboardist Jimmy Destri, and drummer Clem Burke were constants through the group’s early existence and much of their comeback, but their genre-hopping versatility meant they were often hard to pin down. And their status backing up one of the biggest icons in pop culture meant they had to start handing out promotional buttons reading “BLONDIE IS A GROUP!”
That sense of elusive identity, seemingly ageless evolution, and repeated retreats from and returns to the spotlight have continuously reshaped Blondie. First, they were a cult punk act; then, new wave superstars; then eventually something approaching a legacy-minded idea of what Blondie means — only to chop it all up and reassemble it some other way all over again. Making sense of it all is tricky, and sorting it all out is trickier, but if you’ve heard one Blondie classic, you definitely haven’t heard them all. Let’s see if we can figure it all out.
The Hunter (1982)
Blondie's last album until 1999 sounds like a collapsing point, and for good reason. With Chris Stein's health issues, drug and money problems throughout the band, and the fatigue that comes with trying to scrape together a contractual obligation record, 1982's The Hunter was a depressing faceplant of an album right when the new wave zeitgeist Blondie had ruled for the past six years was at its crest. What should've been a victory lap has maybe a couple salvageable moments, and one of them -- the winking John Barry-goes-mod pastiche "For Your Eyes Only" -- is mostly interesting in its historical status as a rejected James Bond theme. "Dragonfly" and "Orchid Club" sound half-finished and tossed off, their synthpop pulses clogged with hesitation and their lyrics sounding like free-association placeholders for words that actually mean something. (When in doubt, just make up a bunch of terms that sound like they came from a sci-fi or pulp-adventure novel.) Throw in a doofy Edward G. Robinson imitation ("Little Caesar"), a disillusioned backwards-looking reminiscence over The Beatles ("English Boys"), and a song about how it sucks being too famous to be able to live your life like a normal person ("The Beast"), and it feels like a band once smartly in tune with pop culture now depended on it entirely just to keep inspired. After The Hunter and its accompanying tour flopped, Blondie were done. The band that should've ruled the '80s were done while the decade was still young, with little of substance to show for it afterwards but an underappreciated Harry solo career and Chris Stein's crucial work on the Wild Style soundtrack. That's not the worst legacy, but still: Everyone involved deserved better.
Panic Of Girls (2011)
Play "D-Day" for someone who's never heard it and give them five chances to guess who's performing it. Then spot them another ten or so. If they somehow guess it's a Blondie song, they've probably either cheated somehow, or they've forgotten they already listened to it some time ago. That it doesn't really sound like Blondie, at least until you strain to hear Harry's characteristic melodies cutting through the heavy-bottomed electro clamor in the chorus, is symptomatic. And even when Harry's voice is left to its own devices, that recurring issue is both a minor point and a major demerit in the case of Panic Of Girls. It rarely feels like it typecasts Blondie as the band people vaguely identify them as, and entrusting things to Jeff Saltzman -- producer of the Killers' Hot Fuss and Fischerspooner's Entertainment -- seems, at least on paper, to be enough to give them an updated but still true-to-self sonic identity.
But with the original band down to Harry, Stein, and Clem Burke (meaning no sign of the always pivotal keyboard player Jimmy Destri) and a lot of nu-wave bloat weighing down the performances with more gloss than hooks, the only thing an instrumental version of Panic Of Girls would clue you into as far as its performers' identity is the presence of a few mirror-polished yet sluggish-sounding reggae pastiches ("The End The End"; "Girlie Girlie"; a cover of Beirut's "Sunday Smile"). The characteristic Harry/Stein wit is lacking, too -- the songs are either flatly cliche ("I see all the lonely souls/ Nowhere left to go/ I see you're the lonely/ You're my one and only chance") or quotable for the wrong reasons ("This ain't no dot-com/But this is a dot-come-on"). Not sounding like a half-remembered idea of "typical Blondie" is one thing, but it'd still help if they sounded like somebody.
Blondie 4(0) Ever: Greatest Hits Deluxe Redux: Ghosts Of Download (2014)
It's been both fascinating and a little strange to see Debbie Harry age into something of a synthpop torch singer. There's a smokiness to the wear in her voice that doesn't so much damage or limit it as it does give it a weight of experience, and it shows even through production that's meant to be blatantly rejuvenating. The new-stuff half of last year's two-fer stretches pretty far to maintain Blondie's place in the present way of dance-punk things instead of just making them a key legacy act, with featured guests scrambling all over the place to bolster the stylistic versatility Blondie's long been known for. So you get Colombian collective Systema Solar infusing "Sugar on the Side" with a hooky cumbia thump, Beth Ditto joining in on the modern-electro jam "A Rose By Any Other Name," and Spanish-language reggaeton/hip-hop verses from Oakland's Los Rakas on "I Screwed Up."
It sure beats the Rod Stewart approach of making a beeline for Ye Olde Standards when you're someone from the '70s hitting your seventies, but it still ricochets a bit from modern relevance to retro comfortability, and some of it's way too cute for its own good. (What if Frankie Goes To Hollywood's "Relax" actually sounded relaxed?) Harry and Stein mostly concocted the music themselves through digital means and with an army of production assistants, and while that doesn't sting as much as it feels like it should, even the involvement of Blondie's two most integral songwriters can't keep it from feeling like a Debbie Harry solo record in all but name. Then there's the weirder half of this package, the Deluxe Redux bit, where Harry performs Blondie Karaoke over re-recorded backing tracks that sound like a pretty decent tribute band at best and weakly redundant at worst. If you're looking for proof that Blondie still have that spark, neither disc does much to ease any skepticism.
Loosely conceptual, "let's try something different" albums like Autoamerican are the reason best-ofs exist. Eat To The Beat sounded like a lot of things, but an encroaching rut wasn't one of them, so the band's decision to push their natural eclecticism to more absurd lengths speaks to an excess of restlessness that tries to do on one LP what The Clash's Sandinista! -- released one month later -- let sprawl more ambitiously (and successfully) over three. Like their increasingly NYC-obsessed cohorts from across the pond, Blondie pulled off a memorable hip-hop pastiche in "Rapture," even if Debbie's rambling flow and man-from-Mars silliness makes "Magnificent Seven" mic controller Joe Strummer sound like Rakim in comparison. "The Tide Is High," another gem from their lineage of left-field covers, turned a Paragons rocksteady classic into a faithful yet distinctly unique homage, and proved to be the last time until the '90s that the UK charts agreed with their desire to be somebody's #1. ("Rapture" did top the Billboard Hot 100 the following year, making it the first rap track -- or at least first with rap verses -- to hit #1, and the last until "Ice Ice Baby" in 1990.)
But there's no third single, and not just because American Gigolo theme "Call Me" proved to be a bigger smash than any candidate on Autoamerican. "Live It Up" is the closest the rest of the album gets to Blondie's end-of-the-70s mixture of new wave grit and dancefloor glamour, but good luck selling America on an uptempo disco track in November 1980. Other side one cuts, like the hard-charging gallop of "Go Through It" and the jangly glimmer of "Angels On The Balcony," feel like precedents for later, more famous and substantial ideas from Adam & the Ants and the Go-go's, respectively. But Blondie strayed far out of their element for a good chunk of the record, and not just because producer Mike Chapman shanghaied them out to Los Angeles to record the thing. The dramatic pomp of orchestral instrumental opener (!) "Europa" and the billowy lightheadedness of Camelot ballad "Follow Me" prove to be the wrong kind of Hollywood for a band whose lead singer fared better working with David Cronenberg and John Waters. And the processed torch songs ("Here's Looking At You"; "Faces") probably would've worked better if they at least had a bit of Tom Waits gloom casting a smoky pallor overhead -- or at least what we got from the Jazz Passengers 17 years later. In a better world, this album would've been an overambitious detour -- in this one, it was the beginning of the end, at least for a long time.
No Exit (1999)
The weird thing about post-comeback Blondie albums is that each one tends to have a different lingering sense of disappointment to it. And where successive releases were too overproduced (The Curse Of Blondie), too unmemorable (Panic Of Girls), or too self-consciously retro-modernist (Ghosts Of Download), No Exit only really suffers in there not being enough signs of how they found themselves again. An attempt to claw out from under seventeen years of absence-driven speculation and the encroaching specter of nu-wave that Shirley Manson and Gwen Stefani were already hinting at, No Exit's "good for a legacy-act comeback" status seems like it begs praise that's fainter than it deserves. Treating this album as though they'd never left actually flatters it a bit more -- there's some throwaway crud here and there, but when has there not been when a band's a quarter century into their career? And since the buzzsaw alt-rock riffs and ska/reggae maneuvers were simultaneously 1999 contemporary and well in keeping with Blondie's DNA, there's no need for them to force much of anything here.
"Maria" was the big hit, a guitar-driven UK #1 that made for a convincing slice of relevance in a world that seemed to flail in any direction it could to keep "modern rock" a going concern. But there are other cuts that get deeper to the sly, enigmatic, cool-yet-emotional core of their best songs -- check for the existential sincerity of "Nothing Is Real But The Girl" ("You'll teach her to find out while you're dying in your living room how much you need her"), the enigmatic physical panic of "Screaming Skin" (an allusion to the autoimmune disease that Chris Stein fought back against during his downtime), and "Under The Gun (For Jeffrey Lee Pierce)," a requiem for the Gun Club's late, legendary founder -- and Blondie U.S. fan club president. Sure, there are moments where the camp on No Exit becomes just a little too much: The title track's Coolio guest spot on the Toccata In D Minor-lifting title track is somehow dippier than Harry's rap verse, and if the title to "Boom Boom In The Zoom Zoom Room" doesn't set your hairs on edge, the caricatured yet harmless burlesque lite-sleaze of the song itself probably will. But even the bigger failures are entertaining ones, and are often easy enough to forgive or at least flatteringly recontextualize (imagine the otherwise baffling alt-country oddity "The Dream's Lost On Me" in the hands of, say, Neko Case). And they sure as hell didn't sound old.
The Curse Of Blondie (2003)
By 2003, you could add a newer wave of new wavers to the legacy of hot indie artists that owed at least something to that first late-'70s stretch of Blondie classics. (Let's face it: There are many more cuts on those first couple Strokes albums that sound like "One Way Or Another" than there are ones that sound like "Venus In Furs," and we're all the better for it.) So if there was a time for the original Hot NYC New Wave Band That Broke Huge to re-stake a claim on the real estate they helped develop, it was the early aughts. Still, while No Exit felt positioned as an originators' riposte to the assorted Garbages and No Doubts that had been portrayed by alt-rock media as next-gen Blondies, The Curse Of Blondie isn't really a reaction, a retort, or an attempt to grab some elder-spokesmodel sovereignty over a scene they once ruled.
What it is, exactly, still feels like an attempt -- sometimes successful -- to recapture their grasp on the pop consciousness in a way that the catching-up No Exit couldn't always manage. To that end, "Good Boys" is the unqualified triumph of the record, a surgical strike of electro-pop that sounds appropriately icy and could sit well next to Ladytron in DJ sets. You kind of have to dig for the rest, since producer Steve Thompson steers their sound towards a borderline-aggro alt-rock bombast that has too much overproduced bloat to do justice to the band's traditionally nuanced less-is-more style. (For some reason most of Chris Stein's guitar parts sound like he's auditioning for Def Leppard.) There are still some strong songs underneath all that, though -- "Rules For Living" captures Harry's characteristic ambivalence in a search for love cut with deja vu, and the lovers rock "Background Melody (The Only One)" finds grace in the potentially mortifying subject of addressing all the listeners who owe their existence to her music -- both literally and figuratively.
In what might be the funniest opening salvo in a worth-taking-seriously band's history, Blondie opens with Debbie Harry at her Shangri-Las sweetest: "I saw you standing on the corner/ You looked so big and fine/I really wanted to go out with you/ So when you smiled, I laid my heart on the line." The punchline of "X Offender": the "you" is a cop and the "I" is a prostitute, which makes it a twisted '70s NYC love song if ever there was one. As much as the Ramones are venerated for twisting '60s pop and rock into something deeply absurd while maintaining reverence for its power in joy, Blondie pulled it off just as well and managed to add a twist of tongue-in-cheek sex appeal in the bargain. Harry performed like an older-and-wiser version of a girl-group ingenue looking back at her formative years with a jaundiced eye, rearranging the rules of teenage love and heartbreak from what had previously been considered the wrong side of 30.
Other songs pull goofball inspiration from b-movies of both old-school drive-in vintage ("The Attack Of The Giant Ants") and '70s grindhouse fare ("Kung Fu Girls"), find complicated love via Sondheim-ian gang warfare ("A Shark In Jets Clothing"), watches men drown in the sea of love ("Man Overboard") and offers them a double-entendre solace ("Look Good In Blue," with its immortal line "I could give you some head/ and shoulders to lie on"). The band's still finding its footing -- ballads like "In The Flesh" sound more like throwbacks than callbacks, and given how offbeat "Attack Of The Giant Ants" and "Man Overboard" sound, they hadn't entirely nailed the ability yet to go Caribbean without making it sound like a goof. But they were close enough to grab at that new wave ideal, with the mean-girl Cinemascope eyeroll of "Rip Her To Shreds" spitting gossip-columnist vitriol like Harry's preparing herself to find out what it's like to be a target.
Plastic Letters (1978)
There's something oddly sinister about Blondie's second album, a serrated edge showing through the nod-and-wink surface of their pop hooks and new wave cool. It could be the cop car on the cover, or the criminal grime that took the cheery seediness of "X Offender" further into threatening turf (the hoodlum-surfer menace of "Youth Nabbed As Sniper"; "Kidnapper" and its arch scuzz-boogie), or even the title -- evoking not just rock-club marquees, but how the cops spell your name out when they take your mugshot. The old critical knock against this one was a flimsy side two, though neither contemporary or recent reviews can agree on what the exceptions to the second-half drag might even be. And it shouldn't even matter anyways with the one-two closing barrage that crops up here. You get a heavy dose of muscle-car goonstomp nastiness in "Detroit 442," which compacts Springsteen factory-town ennui into Iggy Pop derangement through tweaker velocity and government-name "Jimmy O dodging flying objects at the show" allusions alike. And "Cautious Lip" is skulking, feral detachment dripping with the aftermath of '77 Bowie, Harry's glamorous snarls doing their damnedest to coax the truth out of some reluctant target. The hits are great, of course -- "(I'm Always Touched By Your) Presence, Dear" is a fine example of their knack for hiding sincere aching beneath hip detachment, and the gender-flipped Randy & The Rainbows cover "Denis" broke them across the Atlantic as pop throwbacks of the highest caliber. But the fact that they concealed something a bit meaner, weirder, and smarter than they'd been given credit for makes Plastic Letters feel more special than just a transitional sophomore-slump record.
Eat To The Beat (1979)
Kieron Gillen knows what's up: In his Phonogram mini-series comic story "The Singles Club," a pair of DJs imbued with arcane, music-based magic powers stare down a dead dancefloor and decide it's time to pull their trump card. "Is it time?" "It's time. Do it. Play the Blondie." They drop the needle on the glowing ultimatum and everything falls back into body-moving place. Gillen did that song's power justice by writing that scene, but the funny thing is, a moment as invigorating and delirious as "Atomic" might not just be a straggler runner-up in an argument for Blondie's best single -- there's also a strong case for it not even being the best song on its album. Start at the beginning on Eat To The Beat and you'll figure out why: With the stardom rocket bolted to their backs, they had to come with something as bracing as "Dreaming" to prove to their skeptics that they weren't going blandly 'mersh any time soon. With the energy of ABBA siphoned through the jolt of the Buzzcocks and a razor-wit opening couplet ("When I met you in the restaurant/ You could tell I was no debutante"), "Dreaming" is the kind of song you could open a record with and then guiltlessly coast on goodwill for a while afterwards.
Good thing they didn't. Eat To The Beat is Blondie working their hooks through a succession of songs that toy with their reputation for arch, aloof cool and feel as emotionally invested as anything they've done before or since. Along with the revved-up reverie of "Dreaming" and the lyrically minimalist vocal euphoria of "Atomic," there are a share of moments that are oddly tender and nakedly sincere: "Sound-A-Sleep" is a lullaby for a restless city that always leaves its lights on, and the pull in "Shayla" between being stuck in a go-nowhere life and risking the loss of its relative security makes for Debbie's most haunting performance. Intentionally or not, the love-as-fate "Accidents Never Happen" plays like a certainty-filled retort to Elvis Costello's waiting-game agitation from earlier that year, Harry's voice slinking while the rest of the band sprints. The Motown pulse of "Slow Motion" is so thorough that it perfectly drives home the power of music to mess with time and space where falling for someone is concerned ("Pick up the beat, you can move like you're made out of vapor"). And even "Union City Blue," a song Harry wrote during a break from shooting her acting debut in the mostly forgotten neo-noir Union City, feels deeper than the film-inspired stream of vague abstraction it looks like on paper, just from the yearning in her delivery of the line "What're we gonna do?" With music videos becoming increasingly popular in the late '70s, promo clips were shot for all 12 songs on the album -- but if you want Eat To The Beat to evoke some powerful visuals, just closing your eyes and listening should do the trick.
Parallel Lines (1978)
Sometimes the moment where everything clicks perfectly comes in the guise of a sellout. Parallel Lines is still the biggest hit record to ever come from a band rooted in CBGB's, and at the time its multi-platinum status and disco hit single were easy to frame as some kind of betrayal. But that kind of accusation, especially in hindsight, falls apart after a surface examination. Not only is that big dance club smash "Heart Of Glass" just one of the band's countless genre exercises, an extension of Harry and Stein's infatuation with classic pop tropes from girl-group R&B onwards, it's more nervy and strange and perfect than anything else in the litany of circa '78-'79 rock-goes-disco singles flooding the market at the time. A song originally written in '74 to a mutated reggae rhythm, given a dance-step-sabotaging bridge, and hinging on bitter love-lost lyrics that didn't include the titular phrase in early drafts because they went with "pain in the ass" instead? Not exactly a hitmaker formula, but here we are.
Singles-wise, that smash was preceded by two canny covers that did the crucial New Wave service of reuniting the then-estranged worlds of rock and pop. The jittery Buddy Holly rave-up "I'm Gonna Love You Too" was the unlikely lead single, while their giddy, anxious take on "Hanging On The Telephone" -- originally cut two years earlier on the opposite coast by the short-lived L.A. power-pop catalysts the Nerves -- bolstered their chart presence in the UK and across Europe. And their charting originals saw Harry at her sly postmodern best whether she was twisting stalker monomania into an initially coy, increasingly unhinged sneer ("One Way Or Another") or wrapping silky melodies around upbeat Jan & Dean joy ("Sunday Girl," which sounds even better in French).
Best of all, Parallel Lines ducks the singles-plus-filler rep most bands who sell a ton of Greatest Hits compilations wind up with. A guest appearance on guitar by Robert Fripp pairs up with Harry's voice to haunting, wistful effect on "Fade Away And Radiate." The torn-up panic of "11:59" and its doomsday romance boast Jimmy Destri's needling keyboards and Clem Burke's avalanche drums as some of the most breathtaking work either musician had laid down to that point. And "Will Anything Happen" is as frantic and insistent and indelibly catchy as anything the Ramones were doing in '78, from its feedback intro to to Burke's punching-bag beat to a chorus that proves the only thing more breathtaking than a full-bore Debbie Harry is a multitracked Debbie Harry. By the time "Heart Of Glass" even comes up on the album, you've already heard nine songs before it which proved disco was just one of the things Blondie could turn into dizzying pop art.
Blondie Albums Ranked
Photo: Raph_PH, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Our Blondie Albums Ranked List takes a look at the all the Blondie albums released and puts them in order of our favorites. Blondie was first formed in New York City in the mid-1970s. They soon became a favorite in the New York clubs due to their dynamic lead singer Deborah Harry and their highly energized band. Blondie would release two albums that became a favorite of critics defining them as one of the most exciting new wave bands to lead the way between the years 1976 and 77 when punk and new wave artists were just starting to flourish. Blondie would soon become a household name with the release of their third album entitled Parallel Lines that spawned the massive number one hit single “Heart of Glass.” Between the years 1978 and 1981, Blondie released three big selling albums and celebrated four number one hit singles. Their success during that period would cement their legacy in classic rock history forever.
Blondie broke up in 1982 after the release of The Hunter album. Deborah Harry would pursue a solo career. However, the group reunited in 1999 with the release of their album No Exit. From that point on, Blondie has released four more studio albums for a combined eleven studio album releases throughout their career. Over the years, personnel in the band has changed multiple times with the two constants always being Deborah Harry and her ex-boyfriend and bandleader Chris Stein.
# 11 – Ghosts of Download
We open up our Blondie albums ranked list with an album that a lot of us missed. Ghosts Of Downloadwas a new Blondie album released on May 12th 2014. It came packaged with a greatest hits album and a bonus DVD of a live show at CBGB’s in 1977. Nice package and the new songs were a lot of fun to listen to. Check out the songs “A Rose By Any Name,” and “Sugar On The Side.”
# 10 – Panic of Girls
Continuing with our Blondie albums ranked list we turn to the album Panic Of Girls. The Panic Of Girls album was released in July of 2011. It was the band’s first album since The Curse Of Blondie in 2003. Panic Of Girls was the first Blondie album since their debut not to chart on the US Billboard top 200 albums charts. It’s also the band’s first album without their original keyboardist Jimmy Destri. Standout tracks on the album included the single “Mother,” and the opening song “D-Day.”
# 9 – The Hunter
After the tremendous success of Blondie’s previous three albums Autoamerican, Eat To The Beat and Parallel Lines, The Hunter album was seen as a commercial failure. Blondie’s first five albums had all gone gold with four of them going Platinum. The Hunter became the first Blondie album to fail to even go gold. Blondie would breakup six months after The Hunter was released. The album simply lacked the spark, the energy, and the passion that all of Blondie’s previous albums had contained
# 8 -The Curse of Blondie
We absolutely love the title of Blondie’s eighth studio album called The Curse of Blondie. This was Blondie’s first album with Sony music. The album’s debut single “Good Boys,” enjoyed success in the UK where it was a top 20 hit and in the United States where it broke into the top 10 on the US dance charts.
# 7 – Pollinator
Blondie’s Pollinator album stands as the most recent Blondie album release as of this writing in 2021. The album was released on May 5th 2017. This is a great rocking album that let the world know that Blondie was still alive and well and rocking as hard as they ever were. The album’s opening song “Doom or Destiny,” featured the legendary Joan Jett along with Deborah Harry on lead vocals. What a way to open up an album. We highly recommend this one!
# 6 – No Exit
In 1999, Blondie reunited and released the great new album entitled No Exit. Blondie fans went crazy over this fantastic comeback album. This was a strong effort with fourteen brand new original songs written by the band featuring the hit single “Maria” which went to number one in the United Kingdom. It was the band’s highest-charting album on the UK and US album charts since Autoamerican in 1980 almost 20 years earlier. It was also their first album to go gold in the UK since Autoamerican.
# 5 – Autoamerican
Blondie’s Autoamerican album was a huge hit for the band. The album came pretty close to repeating the success of the 1978 album Parallel Lines. Autoamericanwas released in November of 1980. The album spawned two hit singles with the first one entitled “The Tide is High,” hitting number one in the United States and the United Kingdom. The album’s second single entitled Rapture got heavy airplay on MTV and became the first rap song ever to hit number one in the United States. Many people argue that Blondie’s “Rapture,” stands as one of the most important songs in the development and popularity of rap that would begin a few years later. That’s a pretty big deal.
# 4 – Blondie
In 1976, Blondie released theIR first album simply titled Blondie. The album kind of simmered in the underground for a while until it would become extremely popular after the success of Parallel Lines as new fans sought out there earlier work. This is a great rock and roll album that featured some incredible songs such as a “X Offender, In The Flesh and Rip Her To Shreds.” One of the great early new wave records ever released.
# 3 – Plastic Letters
Blondie’s Plastic Letters was Blondie’s second album release. The album was released in September of 1977 one year before Parallel Lines would be released. The album broke in to the U.S. Top 200 albums chart speaking a number 72. Over time, the album would go gold in the Netherlands and platinum in the United Kingdom. Highlights on the album included the songs “Denis,” and “(I’m always Touched By Your) Presence Dear.”
# 2 – Eat To The Beat
Blondie’s Eat To The Beat was a very successful follow-up album to Parallel Lines. While the band faced a monumental task in trying to follow up an album that spawned a number one hit single around the world, Blondie did a very fine job in releasing a record full of great new songs that showed artistic growth and led the way in developing a fresh new rock and roll sound at the end of the decade of the 1970s. 1979 is one of the most underrated years in classic rock history and it’s because of albums like Eat To The Beat that we enjoyed this year so much.
Four singles were released from the Eat To The Beat album starting with the great track “Dreaming,” released in September of 1979. “Dreaming,” was followed up by the singles “Union City Blue, and “The Hardest Part.” While the album was still charting Blondie released a single from the American Gigolo soundtrack entitled “Call Me,” which would become the band’s second number one hit of their career.
# 1 – Parallel Lines
We close out our top 10 Blondie albums list with the band’s most commercially successful album of their career entitled Parallel Lines. Not only was this the band’s most commercially successful album it was the most artistically satisfying record for both the group and their fans. Parallel Lines stands as a hallmark of the new wave, punk era of the late 1970s. It was easily the most successful new wave pop album ever released crossing the genres of so many styles of music between rock, pop, disco, punk and new wave. It was also the band’s major breakthrough album in both the United Kingdom and the United States.
Six singles was released from the Parallel Lines album. The first single entitled “Picture This,” was released on August 26th 1978. The song did not make much of a dent on any of the music tracks around the world. The second single was released just a month later in September entitled “I’m Gonna Love You Too,” which also didn’t make much of a dent in the music charts. We don’t know what the band’s record company was thinking releasing those two songs as the first two singles as there were so many more great songs on the Parallel Lines album. The third single released from the album is the one that we would have released first, the album’s opening track “Hanging On The Telephone.” That was a great song full of energy, passion, great chord changes and a to die for melody and lead vocal by Deborah Harry. Released in October of 1978 the song “Hanging On The Telephone, received a lot of airplay on FM radio and was a top 10 hit in the UK.
Blondie would soon become a household name in January of 1979 with the release of the fourth single from the album entitled “Heart of Glass.” It doesn’t seem that anyone in the band or the group’s management ever expected the success that “Heart of Glass,” would have on the charts. Otherwise they would have released “Heart of Glass,” as the album’s first single. “Heart of Glass,” went straight to number one in the United States on the Billboard Hot 100 music charts. The song “Heart of Glass,” went to number one in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, New Zealand, Germany, Canada, Australia and Austria. It’s sold millions of copies around the world becoming the band’s biggest hit single of their career and and the first of four number one songs the band would celebrate during an amazing run.
Two more singles were released from the Parallel Lines album entitled “Sunday Girl,” and “One Way Or Another.” The album’s final single”One Way Or Another,” would become one of Blondie signature songs. Blondie’s Parallel Lines album would become their highest-charting album of the career as it peaked at number six on the US Billboard top 200 albums charts. In our opinion, it’s an album that stands as one of the best of the decade of the 1970s.
Top 10 Blondie Albums Ranked article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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