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Blondie still having more fun

theage – 6th August 2003

By Patrick Donovan
Music Writer

What does Abba have in common with Blondie? The Scandinavian quartet and the New York punk band both first achieved chart success in Australia.

This was way back in 1977 for Blondie, who toured in 1978, visited in the mid-1980s and have landed again for another national tour. Along the way was a one-off gig at Lorne’s Falls Festival in 1998, and while they were a little sloppy, the crowd, overjoyed at hearing hits such as Rapture, Call Me and The Tide is High, hardly noticed.

But this time a vital cog is missing in the form of guitarist Chris Stein, who is not making the journey because his partner recently gave birth. He is replaced by Jimmy Bones.

Stein, who has fond memories of Australia after the success here of In the Flesh in 1977, left a message on the band’s website explaining his situation.

“I really have always had a great time there, which is why I’m so split up about the timing of the whole thing . . . It’s just been really a drag for me having to choose between two things that are such heavy positive factors in my life. After all the band is certainly not ‘business’, the music is similar to creating life.”

The band is touring on the back of a new release, The Curse of Blondie, which opens with a very smart rap from the 58-year-old former Playboy bunny Deborah Harry, not dissimilar to her rhymes on the band’s first hip-hop number one, Rapture.

“I wanted to get a song on (television show) The Sopranos and I figured they’d like it if I did a pro-Jersey rap,” Harry said in the press release for the new album. The album also features a tribute to late singer Joey Ramone called Hello Joe.

What about the title? The band had to split after six albums in 1982 because Stein came down with a potentially fatal genetic disease. But he’s fine now, the band has sold more than 40 million albums, and with the New York ’70s rock revival in full swing, the band’s influence can be found in clubs and on radio.

“It’s been a standing joke for years,” said Harry. “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.”

Blondie play at the Palais Theatre next Wednesday (sold out) and Thursday.


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