Blondie - Debbie Harry

Blondie - Debbie Harry

by Alberto Farinone
Blondie are some of the great number of sons of the New York new wave "brood" born in the middle seventies. A luxuriant moment, gravitating towards the legendary Cbgb's, which put together names like Television, Ramones and Patti Smith. Comparing to their colleagues of the time, Blondie revealed a peculiar attitude to contamination between urban rock and advanced forms of black music. In this way, maybe unconsciously, they gave birth to one of the luckiest genres af the 70: that "disco-punk" that will project his shadow also over the next decade, influencing whole generations of synth-pop groups and not only. Refined, scratchy, modern, Blondie are essentially synonymous of their extra-blond vocalist Debbie Harry, one of the strongest female icons of the seventies, and, with high probability, the most beautiful rock singer ever. But Debbie Harry's career from Miami didn't seem so successful at the beginning. Coming from a poor experience as a rock singer at the end of the sixties (she's the voice of Wind In The Willows and then of First Crow On The Moon, supporter band of the Velvet Underground in a New York concert), she worked first as a waitress and then as a manicurist, before the magazine Playboy got a line (and some pictures) on her perturbing body. Even as a bunny, anyway, the blond Debbie couldn't obtain more than a work as a waitress at Max's. But it was indeed that job that let her knew the right people to realize her whole-life dream: make her name in the rock world. In 1973 Debbie Harry makes her debut in a group headed by Fred Smith and Chris Stein. In 1975 Stein, her man in private life, forms a band just for her, the Blondie, where would join later also the drummer Clement Burke, bassist Gary Valentine and the fundamental keyboard player James Destri. Although is the blond vocalist the icon of the band, the name Blondie has another origin: in fact was taken from the comic strip "Blondie and Dagoberto".

Thanks to the sensuality of this "punk's Marilyn Monroe" and to their immediate sound, Blondie get room into New York underground scene. Also their music begins to impress. The first singles ("X Offender" and the slow "In The Flesh") give a first idea of what would be the receipt of Blondie, the first album, an original punk-pop capable to mix up disco-music Moroder-style with dirty Ramones punk, Broadway musical's atmospheres and garage-rock roughness. Over the tracks, apart from the mentioned singles, stands out also "Rip Her To Shreds", almost the manifesto of this new style.

After the poor Plastic Letters (1977), with the single "Denis" (that reached number 2 of English charts), "Kidnapper" and "Presence Dear", Blondie reach again success one year later with Parallel Lines, produced by Mark Chapman and armed with a knock-out single like "Heart Of Glass" (high-class disco music combined with Harry's sensual singing and exuberant proto-synth-pop keyboards). But also songs like "Hanging On The Telephone" and "Sunday Girl" contribute to raise the vamp image of the Miami vocalist. In the same year the bass player Nigel Harrison joins the group and Frank Infante becomes the second guitarist. These are the Cbgb's years, and the legend wants Patti Smith being envious of Debby Harry, able to steal the stage from her with her showgirl looks and her sensual manners. Singing with a teared up dress and high heels, the ex bunny builds up a "vamp" character with an appropriate measure of self-irony.

Blondie also appear in the documentary movie "Blank Generation" playing "He Left Me", they tour in Europe with Television and in America as Iggy Pop's supporter band. Their career is now a straight line and the 1979 hits "Dreaming" and "Atomic" - sparkling examples of "cut and paste" in the studio, adding psychedelic echoes, charmed voices and funny retro arrangements - are a big deal in the charts. The two songs also bring to success the album Eat To The Beat where nevertheless the band's innovation starts to fade, as shown in the next album Autoamerican, too (the one with "Rapture").

Koo Koo, while Hunter (1982) sadly brings the Blondie-age to an end. After her husband Chris Stein's heart attack, Debbie Harry leaves for a while the musical scene to try a loser career as B-movies' actress. Her coming back, sadly weighted by aging, with poor albums like 1986 Rockbird (although with a struggling song like "Free To Fall"), Deaf Dumb & Blonde (1989) with the single "I Want That Man" and Depravation (1993), just underlines the regret for the freshness of past Blondie. Unfortunately the re-union syndrome affect them, too, and so in 1998 we find Blondie back in tour to celebrate their rehearsal, followed by an album, No Exit, published in 1999 and quickly forgot, excepted maybe the single "Maria".

Blondie have the merit of having built a bridge between black music exuberance and punk irruence, between funk sensuality and the fatal and algid scent of a certain kind of new wave. After them, disco music would never be the same; but also in the rock side it's easy to find imitations more or less confessed: from Shirley Manson's Garbage to new yorkers Strokes. Since 1976 they sold 40 millions of records. Before concluding remains to remember that Chrysalis label has reissued the first six group's recordings, enriched by some previously unreleased tracks (where stands out a live cover of Bowie's "Heroes") and that Debbie Harry's life is going to become a movie: Drew Barrymore, the ex Hollywood damned girl, seems to be pole positioned for the main part.
Blondie (Private Stock, 1976)


Plastic Letters (Chrysalis, 1978)


 Parallel Lines (Chrysalis, 1978)


Eat To The Beat (Chrysalis, 1979)


Autoamerican (Chrysalis, 1980)


 The Best Of Blondie (antologia, Chrysalis, 1981)


 The Hunter (Chrysalis, 1982)


 Blonde And Beyond (antologia, Chrysalis, 1993)


The Platinum Collection (antologia, Chrysalis, 1994)


 Picture This Live (live, EMI/Capitol, 1997)


 Atomic: The Very Best Of Blondie (antologia, Chrysalis/EMI, 1998) 
 No Exit (Beyond Records, 1999)6
 Live/Livid (live, Beyond Records, 1999)6
Greatest Hits (antologia, EMI/Capitol, 2002) 
 The Curse Of Blondie (Epic, 2003)6,5
 Greatest Hits: Sight + Sound (antologia, EMI/Capitol, 2005) 
 At The Bbc (live, Chrysalis, 2010)7
 Panic Of Girls (Five Seven, 2011)6
 Ghosts Of Download (Five Seven, 2014)4
 Greatest Hits Deluxe Redux (Five Seven, 2014) 
 Pollinator (Bmg, 2017)7
 KooKoo (Chrysalis, 1981)6,5
 Rockbird (Geffen/Chrysalis, 1986)6
 Def, Dumb & Blonde (Sire, 1989)6,5
 The Complete Picture: The Very Best Of Deborah Harry And Blondie (antologia, Chrysalis, 1991) 
 Debravation (Sire, 1993)5,5
 Most Of All: The Best Of Deborah Harry (antologia, Chrysalis, 1999) 
 Necessary Evil (Eleven Seven, 2007)6,5
 The Wind In The Willows (Capitol, 1968) 5,5
 Individually Twisted (32 Jazz, 1996) 
 Live in Spain (live, 32 Jazz, 1998) 
 Heart On A Wall (Chrysalis, 1982)6
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Blondie - Debbie Harry