Album review

Blondie : Greatest Hits

Blondie : Greatest Hits21 years after The Best Of Blondie, Debbie and the guys return with a righteous selection of remastered hits spanning all of their seven records and generation bridging esteem. Blondie - still very much an active band since reforming in '98 for the well received No Exit - transcended musical borders at a time when rock was still 'rock' and labeling remained an indoor function of record manufacturers.
    In today's genre bending climate - where the norm is to merge six or seven various styles, proclaim ambiguity, pledge uniqueness and point to no one in particular - the influence and relevance of a band like Blondie has never been stronger.

Appearing in the late 70s when the scene was ripe for the picking, Blondie pushed the envelope to a threadbare extreme, creating an unlikely combination of modernity, quirky dance, punk, funk, beat pop and new wave. They sported a dynamic platinum blonde centre stage pin-up and a lifetime's worth of eclecticism that few knew what to make of, and even fewer originally paid attention to.
    It wasn't until '79 that Blondie made their first big splash in the States - amazingly enough the undisputed nation of new trend developments and seemingly always the last to know - with the album Parallel Lines. The line was drawn, and Blondie - never a band to create the same album twice - were on their way to becoming one of the biggest in the world, without sacrificing a shred of the dynamism that marked their early arrival.
    So call 'em groundbreaking, trend setting, chart climbing, irritating . . . regardless, hit tunes like the tropical The Tide Is High or glittery Heart Of Glass, prove there'll always be something for everyone from this unit that was never satisfied to sit still for very long.

Actually this Greatest Hits release trails the reissuing of their first six records, all repackaged and remastered, and they're all a primer coat for the next layer expected later next year. Greatest Hits contains everything required for the Blondie connoisseur or casual listener with little to dispute. Personally, I'd have pulled Denis or Sunday Girl and found room for Forgive Or Forget or the title track from No Exit, heretofore only represented by Maria; your plain Jane radio smash some 17 years after the fact. But who am I and what do I know about song selection?
    Overall, the expected breadwinners are all present and accounted for: Call Me, One Way Or Another, Heart Of Glass, The Tide Is High, and of course Rapture - their most significant crossover moment, merging the ever popular yet then untested rap style with white-bread pop hooks for an altogether classic song. So many of their songs are classics yet they remain timeless as ever simply because they, as a band, were so far ahead of their time. Looking back, they took more chances than most in their class - except maybe for The Cars or Talking Heads - yet it didn't take the world forever and a day to catch the spirit.

The true test of a band's ability lies not only in what they achieve in live action, but what they're still able to achieve after the last bow. Suffice it to say, many of those aforementioned hits still annoy me to this day, because it's like back to being 11 and inches away from the AM radio dial . . . with the art of top 40 repetition at an all time high. That's how big Blondie were and that's how far they climbed. I said the very same about Guns n' Roses in '87 . . . if I hear Sweet Child O' Mine one more time I'll go off the deep end . . . and to this day I still need more space between myself and their acclaimed Appetite For Destruction record. Okay, so the point isn't to shy away from the band I spent the whole page praising, but I think the point's been made.
    Nonetheless, here's 19 hot Blondie tracks with a few unlikely heroes - X Offender, Atomic, The Hardest Part - thrown in the mix to curdle the cream of the crop just a bit. They've been there, done that, and they're still doing it . . . and I can't wait to see what they'll do next!

:: Vinnie Apicella

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