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Reviews 24/10/2003

Album Of The Week: Blondie

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Gillingham, Kent, UK (By Mikey) - Each week I preview an album which I think deserves a listen to and if it's worth to buy, I will cater for all tastes of music from R'n'B to Rock, Hip hop and Pop. At the end of the page, you will find all future album releases.

Blondie - The Curse of Blondie
Release Date: 20 October, 2003

Blondie, America's greatest pop / rock band, is back on the scene with an amazing new album "The Curse of Blondie." It's a monster in more ways than one. It's a real Blondie masterwork, with fourteen powerful new songs - probably the most musically varied and experimental album in the group's history. It's also a monster because giant hits seem to lurk within it, threatening to explode at any moment.

The current line-up is Debbie Harry on vocals, Chris Stein - Guitar, Clem Burke - Drums, Paul Carbonara - Guitar, Jimmy Destri - Keyboards and Leigh Foxx - Bass. And it's also a monster because it flirts with the noir world of horror flicks and carries the ironic title "The Curse of Blondie." It's tongue in cheek, but...

Consider the fact that the band took sixteen years off between their sixth and seventh albums. Consider the fact that dissension broke up the group at the peak of their enormous success. Consider that Chris, the group's guitarist and hit writer, almost died of a rare and mysterious disease. Consider the fact that many of the group's closest associates in the new wave and punk movements are now in the grave or living in Florida. Consider the fact that the new album was four years in the making. Maybe there's something to this title.

"It's been a standing joke for years," says Deborah Harry, the singer, songwriter and blondest member of the group. "Every time something weird would happen we would say, 'It's the Curse of Blondie.' A lot of people take it seriously, but it's silly. It's sort of a Vincent Price, horror movie type title. I think it's lucky."

"The title is about how much of a pain in the ass everything is always," philosophises founding Blondie member Chris Stein. "Everything is a struggle. But I guess it's for the best. You can't argue with the results."

The curse was working on this record, which was scheduled for release two years ago, except that strange things kept happening. At one point the tapes vanished. But the thing about the Curse of Blondie is that like zombies, vampires or dandruff, they keep coming back. But somehow, each time they do, they are refreshed, revitalized and inspired anew. The Curse of Blondie is the band's eleventh album, including "best of" and live discs.

It's the eighth studio album, and with fourteen new songs, it could be the most musically accomplished and surprising of their long and amazing career. Blondie emerged as the great pop band of the New York New Wave Punk scene. But they always defied categorization because they did the music they loved. They scored the first major reggae, rock/disco and hip hop hits. They wrote great rock hooks and brilliant ironic lyrics. They had the hippest clothes and the coolest hair. Debbie went from the cover of Punk magazine to being on the cover of just about every magazine.

As powerful and fresh as it was, No Exit may have been just a warm up for The Curse of Blondie. The album starts off with "Shakedown", a state-of-the-art R & B hip-hop gem penned by Debbie and Chris. It sounds like the best of what's on the urban radio except the lyrics are, perhaps, urbane. "The Rap is the best one Debbie has ever done," says Chris, which is saying something since she scored the first hip hop number one ever. The lyrics are brilliant and the delivery is as smooth as that other great blond rapper, the one from Michigan.

The first single, "Good Boys," written by Kevin Griffin (Better Than Ezra) and Debbie, is a classic up-tempo Blondie-thon with hooks that grab like velcro. The video was created by Jonas Ackerlund, who directed Debbie in the edgy hit film Spun and there are rumours of remixes by the likes of Giorgio Moroder. The Curse of Blondie is an album of extraordinary richness and variety filled with strong songs, from major pop tunes like the infectious "Hello Joe" which is dedicated to Joey Ramone, to a variety of quirky and charming excursions - from a rewrite of traditional Okinawan folk song "Magic (Asadoya Yunta)" to a cosmic, free jazz-tinged ballad "Desire Brings Me Back" that is reminiscent of the Blondie standard "Cautious Lip." Another jazzy ballad, "Songs of Love," is a haunting tune that could be a dark horse hit.

Blondie still rocks. "Last One in the World," conjures up an apocalyptic metal mood that would make vintage Ozzy jealous, while "Rules for Living," written by Jimmy Destri, demonstrates once again Blondie's unmatched light touch on heaviness. There are also plenty of pretty things: the lilting "Background Melody" with Debbie floating a gorgeous lacy tune over a skanking dub groove. "The Tingler" a playful takeoff on the horror film of the same name is about an itch and then it goes on to demonstrate that nobody does "catchy" like Blondie. They make a tune absolutely contagious.

Digital technology allowed them to record it wherever they felt like working - often in the basement of Chris's loft - which may have contributed to the free, creative attitude. Like "No Exit," "The Curse of Blondie" was co-produced by Craig Leon. The Curse of Blondie proves that the band hasn't lost a step. In fact the band has refined its chops and plays better than ever, but what's amazing is that they've kept totally current. Chris Stein says "It's in the groove of what's happening, but it still pushing the envelope."

The Curse of Blondie is the envelope. Debbie is rightfully proud of the band: "The guys have gotten really good at what they do. I mean they always were good players and songwriters, but I think now you could say they're accomplished."

All in all, this album, has regained a new generation, and its well written, and one of the most stand-out tracks for me is Hello Joe and Desire Brings Me Back. It feels like I'm plugging this album, because there is some real good music here that's been devoted to 4 decades of pure genius. If you are a Blondie fan, you will not be disappointed with this album, it's a great addition to any Blondie record collection. Full marks for me.

1 Shakedown
2 Good Boys
3 Undone
4 Golden Rod
5 Rules For Living
6 Background Melody (The Only One)
7 Magic (Asadoya Yunta)
8 End To End
9 Hello Joe
10 The Tingler
11 Last One In The World
12 Diamond Bridge
13 Desire Brings Me Back
14 Songs of Love
15 Good Boys (Giorgio Moroder Mix)

Album Release Schedule

October 27
The Beautiful South - Gaze
Hilary Duff - Metamorphosis
Sophie Ellis Bextor - Shoot From The Hip
REM - In Time: The Best Of REM 1988-2003
Sugababes - Three
Various Artists - Now Dance 2004
Various Artists - The Best Bands 2004

November 3
Blue - Guilty
Bon Jovi - This Left Feels Right
Liberty X - Being Somebody
Primal Scream - Dirty Hits
LeAnn Rimes - The Very Best Of
David Sneddon - Seven Years, Ten Weeks
Underworld - Anthology: 1992-2002

November 10
Atomic Kitten - Ladies' Night
Coldplay - Coldplay Live 2003
Mark Owen - In Your Own Time
Pink - Try This
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Greatest Hits
Various Artists - Capital Gold Rock & Roll Legends

November 17
Blazin' Squad - Now Or Never
Busted - A Present For Everyone
Michael Jackson - Ones
Ronan Keating - Turn It Up
Kylie Minogue - Body Language
Cliff Richard - Cliff At Christmas
Britney Spears - In The Zone
Various Artists - Now That's What I Call Music! 56

November 24
Nelly Furtado - Folklore
Enrique Iglesias - Seven
Javine - Surrender
Lemar - Dedicated
Alex Parks - Introduction To Me
Pet Shop Boys - PopArt (1985-2003)
Westlife - Turn Around

December 1
Alicia Keys - The Diary Of Alicia Keys
Will Young - Friday's Child

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