Judge Paul Corupe wants you to call him, but only during off-peak hours so that his cell phone bill isn't too high.
Once I had a love, and it was a gas.
One of the most unique musical groups of the late 1970s, Blondie struck a chord with mainstream pop listeners by incorporating reggae, disco, and hip hop influences into their bubbly new wave sound. Illness forced the band to part ways in 1982 while they were still at the height of their success, but to everyone's surprise, Blondie reformed in 1999 and released a comeback album, "No Exit."
Debbie Harry and Chris Stein formed Blondie in 1977 from the ashes of a music act known as The Stilettos, and began to open for New York punk scene staples like The Ramones, Television, and The Talking Heads. The release of the band's self-titled album later that year led them to gigs opening for the likes of David Bowie and Iggy Pop, but mainstream success eluded the band until 1979, when they scored a number one hit with "Heart of Glass," a catchy track with a popular disco beat that sold millions of copies of their third album, "Parallel Lines." More hits like "Dreaming," "Call Me," and "Rapture" ensued, until Stein was diagnosed with a rare genetic disease. Once Stein recovered, he started working again with Harry, whose attempts at a solo career without her band mates had met with varying degrees of success.
Since Blondie built their reputation with live shows at legendary clubs like CBGB's, it's only appropriate that they would announce their return to the music world with a show for an enthusiastic audience at New York's Town Hall. This concert reunites vocalist Debbie Harry, guitarist Chris Stein, drummer Clem Burke and keyboardist Jimmy Destri, who are joined by "new" Blondie members Paul Carbonara and Leigh Foxx on guitar and bass, respectively. The band lays down a pleasing, if not entirely energetic, 65-minute set of their greatest hits punctuated by several tracks off of "No Exit." Here's the set list:
Blondie was a pop group whose image was just as important as their music. Harry created and projected the face of the band as a kind of "Blondie" caricature, a pouting sex object that owed as much to classic Hollywood sirens like Marilyn Monroe as it did to a sexually-charged punk ethos. Things haven't changed much in the last two decades, as the still-dazzling Harry hits the stage in a pair of dark sunglasses and takes the band, hidden somewhat in the background, through the paces of a crowd-pleasing show. While Harry's singing voice hasn't held out quite as well as her looks, she remains a formidable singer, and it's no doubt exciting for fans to finally see her back in action with her old colleagues.
If I have any reservations about the band's performance, it's that Blondie's new material has edged considerably closer to the realm of adult contemporary soft pop. While this may reflect the graceful aging of both the band and their audience, there's no denying that the new songs are distinctly inferior to the band's classic work, which always had a biting edge to it. A new song like "Boom Boom in the Zoom Zoom Room," is just slightly more embarrassing to say than it is to actually listen to.
Originally broadcast on VH1 and released on DVD and CD by Universal, this re-release by Eagle Vision sounds and looks about the best you could expect. The image is generally quite clear, although some grain is apparent in long shots. The concert itself has a pretty limited color palette, with the band mostly in black on a dark stage, but the occasional flashes of color, like the brilliant red dress Harry wears under a dark jacket, appear rich and vibrant. A significant improvement over the stereo track, the Dolby 5.1 track is quite excellent, full and rich with good use of the surround channels to give you an experience probably pretty close to actually being in the audience. The very limited batch of extras on the disc include a three picture still gallery, pages of lyrics for four of the band's new songs, and a preposterously low budget video for "Nothing Is Real But the Girl."
Unfortunately, the inclusion of so much new material on this DVD only serves as a reminder of how far Blondie has fallen, proof positive that the magic and enthusiasm that the band achieved in the 1980s can never be recreated. Still, the sound quality of the concert itself is impressive, and this release is absolutely worth a look for fans.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Studio: Eagle Vision
• Music Video for "Nothing Is Real But the Girl"
Review content copyright © 2005 Paul Corupe; Site design and review layout copyright © 2016 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.