“Music Monday” Blondie

Wikipedia reported:

Blondie

Chris Stein and Deborah Harry in 2008
Background information
Origin New York City, US
Genres
Years active 1974–1982
1997–present
Labels
Website www.blondie.net
Members
Past members

Mainstream success (1978–1981)

Parallel Lines (UK #1, US #6, Australia #2) Blondie’s third album, released in September 1978 was produced by Mike Chapman, became the group’s most successful effort, selling 20 million copies worldwide.[25] The album’s first two singles were “Picture This” (UK #12) and “Hanging on the Telephone” (UK #5).

Heart of Glass” was their first U.S. hit. The disco-infused[1][2] track topped the U.S. charts in April 1979. It was a reworking of a rock and reggae-infused song that the group had performed since its formation, updated with strong elements of disco music. Clem Burke later said the revamped version was inspired partly by Kraftwerk and partly by the Bee Gees‘ “Stayin’ Alive“, whose drum beat Burke tried to emulate. He and Stein gave Jimmy Destri much of the credit for the final result, noting that Destri’s appreciation of technology had led him to introduce synthesizers and to rework the keyboard sections.[26] Although some members of the British music press condemned Blondie for “selling out”, the song became a success, worldwide. Selling more than a million copies and garnering major airplay, the single reached number one in many countries including the U.S., where Blondie had previously been considered an “underground” band. The song was accompanied by a music video that showcased Harry’s hard-edged and playfully sexual persona, and she began to attain a celebrity status that set her apart from the other band members, who were largely ignored by the media.

Blondie’s next single in the U.S. was a more aggressive rock song, “One Way or Another” (US #24), which became their second hit single in the United States. Meanwhile, in the UK, an alternate single choice, “Sunday Girl“, became a #1 hit. Parallel Lines is ranked #140 on Rolling Stone’s list of 500 greatest albums of all time.[27] In June 1979, Blondie, photographed by Annie Leibovitz, was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.[28]

Their fourth album, Eat to the Beat (UK #1, US #17, Australia #9), released in October 1979, was well-received by critics as a suitable follow-up to Parallel Lines, but in the U.S., its singles failed to achieve the same level of success[11] as in the UK, where “Atomic” (UK #1, US #39) reached number one, “Dreaming” (UK #2, US #27) reached number two, and “Union City Blue” (UK #13) charted in the top 20.[11]

Blondie’s next single, the Grammy-nominated “Call Me” was the result of Deborah Harry’s collaboration with the Italian songwriter and producer Giorgio Moroder, who had been responsible for Donna Summer‘s biggest hits. This track was not included on any Blondie studio album; rather, it was the title theme of the soundtrack for the Richard Gere film American Gigolo. Released in February 1980, “Call Me” spent six consecutive weeks at #1 in the U.S. and Canada, reached #1 in the U.K. and became a hit throughout the world. The single was also #1 on Billboard magazine’s 1980 year-end chart.

In November 1980, Blondie’s fifth studio album, Autoamerican (UK #3, US #7, Australia #8) was released and contained two more #1 US hits: the reggae-styled “The Tide Is High“, a cover version of a 1967 song by The Paragons, and the rap-flavored[2]Rapture“, which was one of the earliest songs containing elements of rap vocals to reach number one in the U.S. In the song Harry mentions downtown graffiti and hip hop icon Fab Five Freddy who also appears in the video for the song. “Rapture” would be the band’s only single to achieve a higher chart position on the U.S. charts than in the UK, where it peaked at #5. Autoamerican was a departure from previous Blondie records, featuring less New Wave and rock in favor of stylistic experiments, including acoustic jazz: “Faces”, and from an early Broadway show, “Camelot”, came “Follow Me”. As the title somewhat suggested, a recurring general theme of the album was the car as a subject; obvious for example in the song “T-Birds”, referring to the Ford Thunderbird, and Harry’s spoken intro after the first instrumental track, “Europa”. Autoamerican was, however, not generally well-received by critics.

In October 1981, Chrysalis Records released The Best of Blondie (UK #4, US #30, Australia #1), the group’s first greatest hits compilation.

Hiatus, The Hunter, and breakup (1981–1982)

Promotional photo from 1982.

Following their success of 1978-80, Blondie took a brief break in 1981. That year, Deborah Harry and Jimmy Destri both released solo albums; Stein worked on Harry’s album KooKoo (UK #6, US #28) and Burke with Destri’s Heart on a Wall.[29] Frank Infante sued the band regarding a lack of involvement during the Autoamerican sessions; it was settled out of court, and Infante remained in the band (though Harry has subsequently said Infante was not on the next LP).

The band reconvened in 1981 to record and release a new album, The Hunter, in 1982 (UK #9, US #33, Australia #15). In contrast to their earlier commercial and critical successes, The Hunter was poorly received. The album did have two moderate hit singles: “Island of Lost Souls” (UK# 11, US, #37, Australia #13) and “War Child” (UK #39).[30][31] The album also included “For Your Eyes Only”, a track the band had been commissioned to write and record for the 1981 James Bond film of the same name, but was rejected by the film’s producers (the producers ultimately chose another song that would be recorded by Sheena Easton).

With tensions within the band on the rise due to the act’s commercial decline and the attendant financial pressures that brought, as well as the constant press focus on Harry to the exclusion of the other band members, events reached a breaking point when Stein was diagnosed with the life-threatening illness pemphigus.[32]

As a result of Stein’s illness, coupled with drug use by members of the band, financial mismanagement, and slow ticket sales, Blondie canceled their tour plans early in August 1982. Shortly thereafter, the band splintered, with at least one (unspecified) member quitting and instigating lawsuits against the other group members. The group formally announced their split in November 1982.[33]

Stein and Harry, still a couple at the time, stayed together and retreated from the public spotlight for a while. Harry made attempts to resume her solo career in the mid 1980s, but two singles (1983’s “Rush Rush” and 1985’s “Feel The Spin”) met with little success. Harry was forced to sell the couple’s five-story mansion to pay off debts that the band had run up, Stein owed in excess of $1 million, and drug use was becoming an increasing concern for them. Harry decided to call off her intimate relationship to Stein and moved downtown. She stated in a 2006 interview that she felt she was having a sort of breakdown due to all the stress. After Stein recovered from his illness, Harry resumed her solo career with a new album (Rockbird) in 1986, with active participation from Stein. The album was a moderate success in the UK where it gave her a top ten single. Meanwhile, Burke became a much-in-demand session drummer, playing and touring for a time with Eurythmics, and Destri maintained an active career as a producer and session musician.

A remix album entitled Once More into the Bleach was released in 1988, and featured remixes of classic Blondie tracks and material from Harry’s solo career.

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