THIS ISSUE’S KEY TRACKS
I LOVE YOU HONEY, GIVE ME A BEER
Morphing into the classic ‘Go Through it’, this Blondie demo version was unearthed specifically for the ‘Against The Odds’ boxset – read our in depth review of it later in this issue.
AGAINST THE ODDS 1974-1982
(UMC/The Numero Group)
A top-dollar box set with a goldmine of extras
Curiously for a group of Blondie’s stature, the definitive box set treatment has been slow to materialise. To redress this situation, this summer sees the arrival of a sumptuous box of goodies, remastered from the original analogues and bundled up with previously unpublished photos and extensive liner notes. The super-deluxe edition of this release includes the original studio albums, ‘Blondie’ through to ‘The Hunter’, and while I might wax superlative over the timeless pop greatness contained within those grooves, you’ll scarcely need reminding of that by now. The real clincher here will be the super-generous jackpot of extras – four-plus LPs worth of rarities, outtakes, demos and home recordings, all extracted from the vault of tape reels that have languished in Chris Stein’s Woodstock Barn for many years.
Cumulatively, these archival nuggets delineate one of popular music’s more astonishing creative arcs. A finely-honed pop sensibility was certainly a constant for Blondie right from the outset; the 1974 session included here, unpolished as it may be, reveals a basic winning formula already in place with a touching take on The Shangri-Las’ ‘Out In The Streets’, and ‘The Disco Song’ – future hit material, as events would have it, when later reworked as ‘Heart Of Glass’. From the clubs and basements of the nascent punk-scene New York, Blondie honed their act, and if support-slot status appeared to be their lot during the initial flourishing of the CBGBs scene – early Blondie members were poached away both by Television and Patti Smith – Debbie and Chris persisted in refining their act and assembling a definitive cast, a process that’s traceable through the 1975 Alan Betrock demo tracks and the subsequent first-album period rarities. ‘X-Offender’ and ‘In The Sun’ are perhaps the perfect expressions of early Blondie’s accomplished new wave suss – the age’s definitive pop stars on the cusp, poised at that moment to step into the wider spotlight.
Success, of course, was rightfully theirs, and Blondie fulfilled their role as stars with commendably little compromise to their punk-scene appeal. The ‘Parallel Lines’ outtakes reveal behind-the-scenes workings of a band in their upward trajectory, while the Giorgio Moroder demos from 1980 indicate the dynamite potentiality of this inspired combination. A batch of home tape selections takes us even deeper into the band’s inner workings, the demo of ‘Sunday Girl’ providing a fascinating thumbnail of future chart greatness. But then there’s a whole wealth of gorgeousness to lose yourself in here. Blondie absolutely had it to spare.