So why is Blondie on this best 1,000 albums ever thing?
When I think about the punk bands that came out of the New York City scene in the 1970s, the Ramones for come first to mind, followed by a group of bands and artists – Patti Smith, The Talking Heads, and Television, for example – who were as influenced by art rock as they were by punk. And all bowed at the alter of The Velvet Underground, of course, in addition to proto-punkers that came out of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s.
And then we get to Blondie, the band’s self-titled debut album from 1976, and it’s clear that they are doing something that’s refreshingly and completely their own thing entirely. Like the Ramones, they are interested in updating music from the ‘50s and ‘60s for a new generation, but in their case they lean heavily into a sound that would become known as new wave.
It’s new wave, and fun, and danceable, and all with an attitude that could be described as punk rock. It’s in the music and it’s embodied in the voice and performance of Debbie Harry.
William Ruhlman at All Music does a great job in framing it this way:
If new wave was about reconfiguring and recontextualizing simple pop/rock forms of the ’50s and ’60s in new, ironic, and aggressive ways, then Blondie, which took the girl group style of the early and mid-’60s and added a ’70s archness, fit right in.
“Rip Her to Shreds,” the best song on Blondie, in some ways has the feel of a Doors song in the way it opens with a rollicking, pulsing organ. And you could point to The Doors as an influence for Blondie as much as the other bands I mentioned, I suppse. In any event, “Rip Her to Shreds” is a great forum for Harry to establish herself as a new star with verve and attitude for days.
“X Offender” then shows off how pretty and disarming Harry’s voice can be on a tune that sails along effortlessly, setting the stage for future smash hits like “The Tide Is High.” For my money, I prefer “X Offender” of the two, frankly.
And “In the Sun” proves that Blondie can dabble in something closer to “traditional” mid-‘70s punk rock when they so choose. But even so, Harry’s voice is so powerful and beguiling that it automatically becomes something of its own thing.
Personal stuff that has something to do with Blondie
I saw Blondie perform live over 20 years ago. I want to say they were opening for Reel Big Fish (yeah, kind of a weird billing, I’d say), and the concert was at an outdoor amphitheater in San Francisco’s East Bay. Because they were opening, they played in the late afternoon, and it was sunny and hot. Not ideal. Still, it was a kick to see the band and Debbie Harry still doing their thing.
Some stats & info about Blondie
- What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? New York Bands, Punk Rock, New Wave, Dance Music
- Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – #401
- All Music’s rating – 4.5 out of 5 stars
- When was Blondie released? 1976
- My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #626 out of 1,000
Blondie on Spotify
A lyrical snippet from Blondie that’s evocative of the album in some way, maybe
Oh, you know her, would you look at that hair.
What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?
Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.
But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.