I’ve always assumed I know what the band Blondie is all about. But when I really thought about it, Call Me is the only song of theirs that came to mind. I’m sure I know more of their hits, but none of their titles or melodies. I’ve always assumed they were sort to punk / post punk / new wave / pop. But now, as I struggle to think of even a second song by the band, I realise Blondie is way too iconic for me to know so little about. Which is why I listened to their 1976 self titled debut.
The spoken word intro on X Offender proves that Debbie Harry is a much more effective sexpot when singing. Speaking, she sounds goofy and awkward, but when the singing kicks with its slightly punkified take on 50s rock n roll, the appeal of Blondie is immediately obvious. That period sound continues, with even less of a modern/1976 spin, on Little Girl Lies. With its hand claps, slight surf vibe and ooh-aah backing vocals, it could easily be on the soundtrack to American Graffiti.
After another collection of 50s clichés on In the Flesh, I finally start to hear the disco/dance influences that would inform a hit like Call Me, when Blondie gets to Look Good in Blue. It has more of a dance groove, a bass line that would only need a few slight tweaks to go from classic rock to disco or funk, and some glorious 70s synths to date this song just right.
There’s a slight calypso feel to Man Overboard, until the keyboard solo makes it at least five years ahead of its time. This might be a shitty 70s pastiche of pop music and genre gimmickry, but it sounds like a shitty 80s pastiche of pop music and genre gimmickry
So, of my assumptions that Blondie the band and Blondie the album would be punk / post punk / new wave / pop, I can probably give myself half a point out of five for the “pop” part. But even that’s being generous. They might have become all of those things (still only an assumption on my part), but going by this album, especially the first half, they were a pretty straight up 50s rock n roll throw back. There’s a little more attitude thanks to Harry’s voice, and slightly more edge to the rock thanks to the 70s production sound, but they’re only surface level differences.