Blondie's self titled debut was released all the way back in 1976, at a time it may be difficult to imagine existed but when the group were considered an underground band and Debbie Harry was a name virtually unheard of. Blondie's early years before they rocketed into pop chart superstardom were slightly puzzling, in a way. Their sound at the time was a unique brand of raw, energetic, synthesizer laden rock that was seen as a precursor to several punk, post-punk and new wave bands. It sounds so distinctly 80's
in character however, which makes it hard to believe at times that this predated even The Sex Pistols.
This would-be anachronism and slight sense of unreality aside, Blondie's main appeal and the first thing everybody thinks about when they hear utterance of the group's name is vocalist Debbie Harry. In her prime, she was a visually stunning blonde with an ample bosom that radiated a raw sex appeal both in her physical presence and in her voice. She came to define everything about the group, always the focal point of the many band photos they published over the years and recieving much attention from the press. The cult of Debbie Harry as Blondie was well established by this point, and it all started with this little LP.
This album isn't a long one. It clocks in at roughly half an hour in length, and is a selection of 11 carefully chosen tracks that showcase the best of Blondie at this time. As previously touched upon, the group didn't have a truly refined sound at this point, but makes up for it in spades by a youthful energy and infectious pop sensibilities in the songwriting. X Offender
is perhaps the best example of this, as Harry speaks over a simple drum pattern at the beginning - "I saw you standing in the corner/You looked so big and fine/I really wanted to go out with you/So I put my heart on the line....
". It is full of the kind of hooks and choruses most pop groups would kill to write, which is a recurring motif that continues for much of the album.
It is a generally mid-paced affair, tracks such as Little Girl Lies, Look Good in Blue, A Shark in Jets Clothing
and Rifle Range
finding musical strengths in Harry's strong, feminine charm, as synthesizers, distinctive basslines and bluesy guitar leads dance around playfully. Her attitude comes through best on the classic ode to bitchiness, Rip Her To Shreds
, which is another cult favourite ("Oh, you know her!/Would you look at that hair?/Yeah you know her!/Check out those shoes!
"). In The Flesh
is the token ballad, and was one of the breakthrough singles. Featuring lines such "Hands off this one sweety/This boy is mine
" it doesn't deviate from much else here lyrically, and is a strong single. The Attack of The Giant Ants
ends the album in an homage to the glorious B-movie, with it's drum rolls, synth melodies, Harry's La la, la la la
choruses and samples it is the true definition of a grower. The ending section here is probably as punky as Blondie ever got, which isn't that
punk, granted, but just fast enough that you can detect an influence they may or may not have had over wave of punk bands that later cropped up. The poorest cut here is perhaps In The Sun
, with some weak lyrics, but it doesn't feel so out of place that it become a dealbreaker.
Blondie's debut was a simple, short burst of pop rock magnificence that set the group on the stage to becoming an internationally recognised name in the space of a few years. Debbie Harry largely carries the show with her charisma and charm, as the group musically sets a raw blueprint of sounds that would later come to characterise elements of punk rock, and most significantly, new wave. Blondie were pioneers in this regard, and later came to define this very genre at it's height of popularity and commercial appeal.