Plastic Letters – USA Press Kit – 1978
LP: CHR 1166 ($7.98)
8TRK: 8CH 1166 ($7.98)
CASS: CCH 1166 ($7.98)
January 27, 1978
Selected Cuts: Denis, No Imagination, Kidnapper
Facts: Blondie debuts on Chrysalis records with their new album, “Plastic Letters” and there’s nothing phony about it. It is a hard edged, rock’n’roll album that spans the musical gamut with such songs as, “I’m on E”, which is a humorous exposé on life written by vocalist Debby Harry and lead guitarist Chris Stein. Also included on the LP is the big hit, “Denis”, made famous by Randy and the Rainbows and the more progressive, hard rocker, “Cautious Lip”. Plastic Letters is almost entirely written by Blondie, which is composed of Deborah Harry, Chris Stein, drummer Clement Burke and James Destri, keyboardist and back up vocalist.
Blondie is definitely a group to be reckoned with.
Merchandising aids: Ad Mat, Video Spot, Radio Spot, 5′ and 13″ stand-up, 4-colour 23 x 35 Poster, Easel Back.
Tour information: U.S. tour forthcoming
Artist catalog: Blondie – LP CHR 1165 – 8 Track 8CH 1165 – Cassette CCH 1165
Artist Development & Publicity Department
Born in the depths of Manhattan in the city of New York, Blondie is a band with a past, a present, and most assuredly, a future.
A band should, ideally, always be progressing, both commercially and artistically. In Blondie’s case, it might be said that they have been overdoing it.
The New York band with few friends when their peer bands of 1975 – 1976 had supporters throughout the press and music industry helping them out, Blondie shows signs now of out-distancing them all. A chronology may be in order at this time:
August 1976: signed by record producer Richard Gottehrer
September 1976: record first single, Sex Offender/In The Sun
October 1976: sign with Private Stock Records for album
November 1976: record first album, Blondie
December 1976: first album released
January 1977: acquire management for first time
February 1977: first out-of-town gigs (San Francisco, Berkeley, Hollywood)
March and April 1977: first national concert tour, with the Iggy Pop/David Bowie band
May and June 1977: first English concert tour
July and August 1977: record second album
September 1977: purchase recording contract back from Private Stock Records
October 1977: sign with Chrysalis Records
November 1977: second English tour; first European tour; “In The Flesh” tops the Australian charts
December 1977: first Australian tour
January 1978: Plastic Letters released in Japan, England, Europe; debut Japan tour
February 1978: Plastic Letters released in U.S.
February and March 1978: second European and third English tour
March, April, and May 1978: second U.S. tour
That’s what you might call remarkable progress and momentum. But it has been only the beginning. Currently, as you can see from the chronology, in the midst of a seven month world tour, Blondie intends to make the best of what is now a very good situation. Recently, signed worldwide to Chrysalis Records, Blondie are, if you’ll pardon the expression, sitting pretty.
Speaking of pretty, Blondie is a pretty good band, something that is sometimes overlooked because Blondie’s lead singer is a pretty damn good-looking singer. Deborah Harry is also, as so many have learned, a pretty damn good singer and an incredible stage performer.
Blondie is a lot of things to a lot of people, but, most of all, Blondie is a group of individuals with common aims and goals. They share a sense of what they want to be, and what they want to look and sound like.
There’s first and foremost, Deborah Harry. Singer. Performer. Songwriter. Actress. Personality. Superstar written all over her. With several bands, a couple of plays, a few movies and escapades beyond belief in her somewhat mysterious past that is a story unto itself, Debbie Harry is, above all, a real human being with intellect, depth, and an innate sense of what it is about herself that makes her so special. Among the songs of Blondie’s that Debbie wrote or co-wrote are “In The Flesh”, “Sex Offender”, “Little Girl Lies”, “Man Overboard”, “I’m On E”, “Love At The Pier”, “I Didn’t Have The Nerve To Say No”, “Rip Her To Shreds”, and “Kung Fu Girls”. In the past year, as Blondie has toured to wider and larger audiences, Debbie has grown as both a stage performer and overall entertainer.
Chris Stein, who plays guitar for Blondie, formed the original group with Debbie three years ago. Chris has written or co-written several of Blondie’s songs, including “Rip Her To Shreds”, “I’m On E”, “Detroit 442”, “Youth Nabbed As Sniper”, “Bermuda Triangle Blues”, “Rifle Range”, “Cautious Lip”, “Attack Of The Giant Ants”, “In The Flesh”, and “In The Sun”. A talented photographer who has chronicled the life of the band, Chris’ photos of Debbie, of the entire group, and of other artists they’ve worked with, have appeared in many U.S. and foreign publications. Chris’ unusual style of playing his guitar contributes to Blondie’s distinctive sound.
When Chris and Debbie first formed Blondie, they needed a drummer who could play what they heard in their minds. After auditioning over fifty drummers, they stopped when they experienced Clement Burke. Hearing and seeing him play drums leaves no doubt that they would have been hard pressed to find a better drummer anywhere, at any price. Clem is an avid Anglophile and record collector, and is extremely knowledgeable when it comes to British rock circa 1963 – 1966. The other members of Blondie generally credit Burke with the arrangements of their songs.
Next to join Blondie was James Destri. Singlehandedly spearheading a revival of the much-vaunted Farfisa sound, Destri is an extremely talented keyboard player whose stage set-up, besides his re-conditioned, customized Farfisa, also features the Polymoog and a Roland synthesizer. Jimmy’s symphony of sounds adds many layers and textures to Blondie’s music. Like Clem, Jimmy is very much influenced by and interested in music of the mid-sixties, primarily British, and he also has medical and art school training, both of which he still puts to good use. Jimmy, Blondie’s Brooklyn boy, has made songwriting contributions in the form of “Look Good In Blue”, “Shark In Jets Clothing”, “Kung Fu Girls”, “Kidnapper”, “Fan Mail”, “Detroit 442”, “I Didn’t Have The Nerve To Say No”, “Contact In Red Square”, and “No Imagination”.
Frank “The Freak” Infante, Blondie’s second guitar player, joined in the summer of 1977. Little is known about Frank, primarily because he hardly ever speaks a word, other than that he is a long time friend of Clem’s.
Frank played bass and second guitar on Plastic Letters, and switched full-time to second guitar when Nigel Harrison joined as full-time bass player in October, 1977. Formerly with Silverhead and Ray Manzarek’s Nite City, British-born Nigel made his debut appearance in Blondie at the Friars in Aylesbury, England, his former home town.
Seeing Blondie is believing Blondie. Their always fun-filled live performances have earned them accolades from the press as well as a following of avid fans. From the cover of many different publications (including High Times, Oor, Triad, Slash, the Aquarian, I Wanna Be Your Dog, Good Times, New York Rocker (twice) and Back Door Man) to the constant attention from rock publications and trade papers, Blondie has maintained a high profile. The new affiliation with Chrysalis Records has been among the most talked about stories of the year; it just seems that wherever Blondie goes and whatever Blondie does, Blondie makes news.
“New Wave?” Come on, this is rock’n’roll, not some graduate course in French cinema.
“Punk-rock?” More useful, in that it’s descriptive, but as the movement has grown, the music that’s called punk has become increasingly diverse. As a description of musical style, punk-rock means less and less as the music begins to mean more and more.
It’s a truism worth repeating that all good rock’n’roll has been punk on one level or another, and as this ’70s brand branches out from its three-chords-and-a-cloud-of-dust origins there come to light amazing links between punk and surf and rockabilly and other primary rock forms.
Among the most promising, artistically and commercially, is what the members of Blondie call progressive-pop, in which we find a ’60s musical spirit sending green shoots up through the moldy dead leaves of ’70s rock. No group embodies the combination of Golden Age music and modern attitude better than Blondie.
You want influences? Beatles, Byrds, Jimi Hendrix, 1910 Fruitgum Company, Vanilla Fudge, Hollies, Rascals, Ventures, Grass Roots, Lovin’ Spoonful, Seeds, Doors, Henry Mancini, Paul Desmond, Dave Brubeck, Cal Tjader, the Ronettes, the Who, Bukka White, John Fahey, Highway 61 Revisited, John Barry’s Dr. No, Procal Harum, and Nico. Add Brigette Bardot, “That Man from Rio”, Japanese monster movies, saturation-level television, Marvel Comics, New York’s pop-art/music scene and the streets of Brooklyn and Jersey and you have a fair sampling of the Blondie aesthetic.
But Blondie isn’t a mere compendium of ’60s influences. As Clem Burke once remarked, “all the people who were hanging out and taking it all in are now stepping into the spotlight.” As they do, they bring to the proceedings their own musical approach, a personal vision and force of personality. “It’s not cheap retrospection”, Jimmy Destri cautioned. “We’re just living the dreams we had.”
If there is one trait common to the myriad forms of “punk”, it lies in the attitude. It’s a sense of urgency about the importance of rock’n’roll, an attempt to bring it back into focus as something integral to the kids’ lives. Enough of these slick diversions and seductive background sounds. That stuff isn’t fun anymore, and if Blondie is about anything it’s about having fun.
Blondie’s approach to the matter involves a strong loyalty to the classic pop-song format. The instrumental sound is vivid and catchy, blending the “metaphysical mathematics of Chris Stein’s hypnotic guitar patterns, Jimmy’s increasingly varied keyboard textures, the high-speed thunder of Clem’s Keith Moon-inspired drumming and the steadying support of new members Nigel Harrison and Frank Infante.”
The focal point, of course, is Debbie Harry. (They’ll get testy, by the way, if you refer to Debbie rather than the entire band as Blondie.) She’s the screen through which the Blondie sensibility passes to the listener. With a voice that mingles fire and ice, with an exquisite talent for lyrical interpretation, with a sassiness and sensuality that challenge as they entice, Debbie has emerged as one of modern music’s most significant artists and personalities.
The result is a music both invitingly familiar and intriguingly exotic, and a show with both spontaneity and a strong sense of rock’n’roll ritual. It has brains along with its instinctive street savvy, and its immediacy is tempered by mystery. Chris: “We’re getting away from the baroque and the rococo and the extraneous and trying to streamline everything down to the basic essentials – emotion and feeling and simple, pleasing musicality.”
“The roots were obvious on our first album because we recorded it at a very early stage in our development. The second album will be less obvious in terms of roots and our style will be much more obvious.”
Plastic Letters handsomely fulfills Chris’ prediction. A group’s second album always reveals a lot – are these guys just spinning their wheels? Are they rehashing what they did before? Trying too hard to accommodate themselves to current fashion? Are they playing it safe? Have they dried out?
Blondie, since its inception, has maintained a steady, organic growth, and in their second album they’ve achieved a notable broadening of the vision, a sharp development of compositional, vocal and instrumental skills, a new authority in the delivery and the opening of some important new musical avenues.
“The thing that’s important”, said Jimmy, “is writing a three-minute song that everybody remembers”.
True enough, but Chris had something to add: “What’s important is expressing yourself through the music and having your fingers connect with your head 100%”.
That’s Blondie. 100%
– Richard Cromelin
Clement Burke – DRUMMER
Born: November 24th, 1955
Weight: 160 lbs.
Height: 5′ 11″
Favorite number: Diane’s
Favorite food: seafood, steak
Favorite drink: water
Favorite color: black, pink, white
Favorite clothes: black pegged pants, pink socks, black leather
Favorite movies: “Don’t Look Now,” “Performance,” “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls,” “Rebel Without a Cause.”
Favorite actor: James Dean
Favorite actress: Julie Christie
Favorite singer: male – Mick Jagger, Iggy Pop, Steve Harley. female – Debbie Harry, Marianne Faithful, Dionne Warwicke
Favorite record LPs: “Who Sing My Generation;” “Meet The Beatles;” “12 x 5,” The Rolling Stones: “Raw Power;” “Too Much Too Soon,” NY Dolls; “Indian Giver,” 1910 Fruit Gum Co.; “Dedicated To The One I Love,” Shirelles; “Saturday Nite,” Bay City Rollers; “Runaway,” Del Shannon
Current groups: Rollers, Ramones, Runaways, Cockney Rebel
Favorite all time favorite groups: Beatles, Stones, Kinks, Yardbirds
Favorite drummer: Keith Moon
Biggest Influence: Keith Moon
Personal ambition: write, produce, make a movie
Professional ambition: Blondie Greatest Hits album
Birthplace: New Jersey
School: No. 4
First instrument: finger piano
Other instruments played: bass, feedback guitar
Hobbies: listening to records, photography, collecting 60’s fan magazines
Ideal girl: light brown hair, hazel eyes, slim build
Favorite books: “Hell’s Angels” by Hunter S. Thompson; “In Cold Blood” by Truman Capote
Favorite author: Capote
Favorite poet: Patti Smith
Favorite director: Lindsey Anderson, Russ Meyer
Cities: Hollywood, London
Teenage crush: Marianne Faithful
Deborah Harry – VOCALS
“My life is like a late night rerun.”
Born: Miami, Florida
Favorite climate: 75 to 90 degrees
Favorite colors: turquoise, gold, apricot-coral
Favorite food: melon, nuts, fruits, salads, fish, vegetables
Favorite clothes: boots, colored dungarees, dresses bias cut
Favorite entertainment: movies, concerts, clubs, dancing, museums, art shows
Favorite sports: swimming, volley ball, tennis, golf, driving, skating, bicycling
Favorite groups: Runaways, Ramones, Talking Heads, Devo, Dolls, Sex Pistols, and Iggy
Favorite times: playing at the Palladium in New York City
Favorite transportation: tele
Favorite books: autobiography
Favorite music: all kinds depending on my mood
Favorite planet: earth
Favorite signs: invisible
Favorite time of day: pre-dawn
The reason the past has any importance is because of interest in it in the present. I think this list of favorites does most to explain whatever relevance my past has on the present. The truth is, I’m one of those people who has done a lot of different jobs for a short stop each. If I was a man, I might have been a sailor.
James Destri – KEYBOARDS, BACKING VOCALS
Born: April 13, 1954
Raised: Brooklyn, New York
Height: 5′ 10″
Weight: 156 lbs.
Hair color: variable
Favorite food: watermelon, curry, seafood
Favorite colors: black, white, red
Favorite number: 5
First instrument played: drums
Grammar school: St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish school
First fist fight: behind an abandoned supermarket on New Utrecht Ave.
Childhood sport: baseball – favorite
Childhood sport: worst – baseball
First kiss: behind an abandoned supermarket on New Utrecht Ave.
High school: Bishop Ford H.S.
2nd instrument played: piano
First real career ambition: sailor
First favorite rock group: Beatles
Favorite rock groups (at this point): Cream, Young Rascals, Beatles
First rock band formed: “The 86 Proof”
First gig: Cafeteria, John J. Pershing Jr. High School
Second High School: John Jay High School
Third High School: New Utrecht High School
Favorite rock groups (at this point): King Crimson, Procol Harum, Doors
1st full time job: elevator operator
2nd full time job: printer’s apprentice
3rd full time job: loading at the fishmarket
4th full time job: apprentice printer
5th full time job: file clerk
6th full time job: apprentice printer
7th full time job: doorman
8th full time job: messenger
9th full time job: apprentice graphic designer
First college: school of visual arts
10th full time job: graphic artist, apprentice designer/illustrator
Second college: City University of NY
11th full time job: local nightclub fixture
12th full time job: Blondie
Pet Peeve: Clement Burke
Chris Stein – LEAD GUITAR
Favorite color: none
Favorite rock group: none
Favorite food: liquid protein
Favorite TV show: none
Favorite actor: none
Favorite actress: Debbie Harry
Favorite position: horizontal
Favorite book: none
Favorite pets: my cats
Favorite clothes: black
Favorite guitar: Stratocaster
Favorite music: none
Favorite artists: Arturo Vega, Steven Sprouse
Favorite city: none
Favorite entertainment: none
Favorite car: first year Stingray
Favorite time: night
Favorite monster: Gammera
Favorite transportation: Up
Favorite toy: E-bow
Favorite signs: Capricorn, stop.
Favorite hobby: photography
Favorite album: “Girls” The Girls
Favorite situation: satori
Favorite author: none
Favorite club: Whisky, CBGB’s, Mabuhay Gardens
Favorite hotel: Tropicana in Hollywood
Favorite sport: none
Favorite country: none