Saturday, March 15, 2008
Chapter Twenty Four: Blondie was a Band
Every generation gets the sex symbol(s) it deserves; for those of us creeping towards puberty in the late 70’s Debbie Harry was our It Girl.
I remember seeing Blondie perform “Hanging on the Telephone” on TV at a tender age. Debbie Harry was doing her standing-still-at-the-mike pose and was decked out in a glowing-red dress. I didn’t fully understand my reaction but when she got to that part about “I'd like to talk when I can show you my affection” but it may have influenced my decision to buy a cassette tape of Parallel Lines.
Of course, a dream of Kristy McNicol may have convinced me to watch the execrable show Family but that phase passed. However, these years later it seems that of all the class of CBGB’s graduates, Blondie get the least respect (well other than the Shirts or the Tuff Darts). The Ramones were lionized for milking every last drop from their distillation of rock history. Blondie accomplished the same thing but since they insisted on moving “forward” (in a manner –disco, rap, old reggae – not so different than the Clash) and had hits they grew critically marginalized.
As a songwriter, bandleader and sex symbol Debbie Harry joins a list of women (Maybelle Carter, Billie Holliday, Janis Joplin) who re-defined the role of women within their genre. Plus Harry and her band's hits livened up the radio and jump started a thousand underground bands.
Two bands here attest to the influence of Blondie on the music of the late 70’s/early 80’s.
The Expressos (Rozzi vocals - Mick Toldi guitars - Nicholas Pyall guitars, keyboards - Milan Lekavica drums - Johnny Christo bass) used the Girl Group meets the New Wave shtick but never sounded derivative. In fact the song-writing here (see “Tango in Mono” and “My Yesterday”) equals a lot of Blondie’s late 70’s peak. The Byrds influence on “There She Goes” and “Promises and Ties” is beautiful but the album (B-sides both commercial and literal have been appended to enhance your listening pleasure) lacks any weak spots. I cannot fathom how this album (along with the contemporaneous Keys album) does not have a cult following and lavish re-issue. Soon…
The Passengers (Angie Pepper, vocals, Jim Dickson on bass with Jeff Sullivan on guitar and Steve Harris on keyboards) never had the backing of a major label (though Denis Tek of Radio Birdman was a supporter/romantic interest) but this demo (issued on a French CD shows that Australia had better bands than Icehouse available for export in ’79. The striking Angie Pepper, who from the look of the booklet often performed in a bra, might have made a few Australians boys and girls sit up and take notice for both physical and musical reasons and, as with the best pop music, those two reasons are inextricably linked.
Posted by jeffen at 2:17 PM