Melody Maker

3rd December 1988

Page 4


BLONDIE have had all their old hits remixed and repackaged on a dance album, “Once More Into The Bleach”, which will be released by Chrysalis on December 5. The album features five Number 1 hits and 11 Top 10s remixed by Shep Pettibone, Coldcut, Bruce Forrest and Ted Riley. Tracks include “Denis”, “Call Me”, “Rapture”, “The Tide Is High” and the original French version of “Sunday Girl”.

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POET’s problem: rip her to shreds or just go away? I’ve put off writing this till the last possible minute, in the vain hope that “Once More…” might suddenly come good, that someone will turn up at the door and say “It was a joke, here’s the real record”, that perhaps I will suddenly see these reprobate remixes from an inverse angle, even find a beauty in their irreverence. But some things are sacred. And some things are very sacred. And nothing is more sacred than “Denis”, “Rapture”, “The Tide Is High”, etc. So praise the lord and pass the ammunition.
The sacrilege committed here by such contemporary producers as Shep Pettibone, Coldcut, Danny D and Ted Riley, is a sham and shock and really rather sickening. The original Blondie hits were perfection, I use the noun heartily, every last Clem Burke drum fever and Chris Stein guitar twiddle was inch-relevant. Never had pop managed it so gracefully, never again will it attain such chit-but-rugged, cosmopolitan-but-urban, soothing-but-inciting, potent panache. Classless. Rootless. Timeless. Fearless. Matchless. “The Best Of Blondie” exists, and if you don’t have it, kill yourself. I am now about to kill myself because I do not wish to live any longer in a year where this, this thing (and for God’s sake my cats could’ve come up with 50 better titles), is allowed to pretend to happen.
Maybe it seemed a good idea at the time. To remix some of the group greats and some of the lesser Debbie Harry solo moments, and bung in yer Acid-House-type whooops and blips and tweets. But the result is atrocious. “Denis” now clatters in with a gratuitous overbeat dispelling its innate light-footedness, “Heart Of Glass” sounds like a Bananarama cover version, “Call Me” has telephone effects very ingeniously sprayed on. “The Tide Is High”, a song which once lent me great fortitude, is here a laboured dub routine. Blondie’s instinctive gift for being free and easy, hip as the minute and natural as a river, is battered to within inches of its life, all over this dubious double package.
The second half is mostly Her Flawlessness’s solo efforts, with Jellybean and Moroder slightly less guilty of necrophilia than today’s clots. You also get the original French version of “Sunday Girl”, a rare and wonderful joy, for which I have to step down from my soapbox. I could try describing it but I’m sure you don’t have 10 years to spare just now. Zut alors and hallelujah.
The worst treatment of all is dished out to “Rapture”. Previously the finest and most absurd white dance track of all time, it’s been punctured with “modern” voiceovers and hip-hop tricks. Fundamentally now – can you imagine anything more stupid and blind than changing Blondie’s masterpieces? Tampering with old Clem and trampling on Stein and mucking up Debbie’s strangled syrup vocals? And where are “Atomic” and “Presence Dear” and …well, the list is long and obvious. But nothing could be as obvious and banal as what these silly young men have done to some of the most important works of art of the century. If ever they feel there’s not enough pain in their lives they only need to come within a mile of me.

None of this of course alters the hard and fast facts that Blondie were more significant than Shakespeare and that Debbie Harry is God. I don’t mean that like we say somebody different is God every week, I mean she really is. True believers like myself can look forward to her new album in the spring. Those responsible for this travesty can rot in hell. My apologies to Hell.

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