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Rock - Released January 1, 2001 | Chrysalis\EMI Records (USA)

The basic Blondie sextet was augmented, or replaced, by numerous session musicians (including lots of uncredited horn and string players) for the group's fifth album, Autoamerican, on which they continued to expand their stylistic range, with greater success, at least on certain tracks, than they had on Eat to the Beat. A cover of Jamaican group the Paragons' "The Tide Is High," released in advance of the album, became a gold-selling number one single, as did the rap pastiche "Rapture," but, despite their presence, the album stalled in the lower half of the Top Ten and spent fewer weeks in the charts than either of its predecessors. One reason for that, admittedly, was that Chrysalis Records pulled promotion of the disc in favor of pushing lead singer Debbie Harry's debut solo album, KooKoo, not even bothering to release a third single after scoring two chart-topping hits. But then, it's hard to imagine what that third single could have been on an album that leads off with a pretentious string-filled instrumental ("Europa"), and also finds Harry crooning ersatz '20s pop on "Here's Looking at You" and tackling Broadway show music in a cover of "Follow Me" from Camelot. Though more characteristic, the rest of the tracks are weak compositions indifferently executed. Thus Autoamerican was memorable only for its hits, which would be better heard when placed on a hits compilation. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Pop - Released September 23, 1978 | Chrysalis\EMI Records (USA)

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Blondie turned to British pop producer Mike Chapman for their third album, on which they abandoned any pretensions to new wave legitimacy (just in time, given the decline of the new wave) and emerged as a pure pop band. But it wasn't just Chapman that made Parallel Lines Blondie's best album; it was the band's own songwriting, including Deborah Harry, Chris Stein, and James Destri's "Picture This," and Harry and Stein's "Heart of Glass," and Harry and new bass player Nigel Harrison's "One Way or Another," plus two contributions from nonbandmember Jack Lee, "Will Anything Happen?" and "Hanging on the Telephone." That was enough to give Blondie a number one on both sides of the Atlantic with "Heart of Glass" and three more U.K. hits, but what impresses is the album's depth and consistency -- album tracks like "Fade Away and Radiate" and "Just Go Away" are as impressive as the songs pulled for singles. The result is state-of-the-art pop/rock circa 1978, with Harry's tough-girl glamour setting the pattern that would be exploited over the next decade by a host of successors led by Madonna. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Alternatif et Indé - Released May 12, 2013 | Noble ID, LLC

While it's an inarguably good thing that Blondie is still extant in the 21st century, the band's 2014 release Blondie 4(0)-Ever suggests the predicaments imposed by the band's past and present as they acknowledge their 40th anniversary. Blondie 4(0)-Ever bundles together two albums, a collection of new material called Ghosts of Download, and Greatest Hits Deluxe Redux, a re-recorded set of Blondie favorites. While 2011's Panic of Girls suggested that Blondie was striving to make a place in their new music for all of their many influences, Ghosts of Download is an album clearly made with the dancefloor in mind; electronic beats and gleaming synthesized melodies dominate the tunes, and while all members of the current lineup are listed in the credits, except for the vocals and some very occasional guitar lines from Chris Stein, just about everything here appears to have come from a keyboard or a computer program. Ghosts of Download lacks the wit and adventure of Blondie's best moments, and the presence of the numerous guest stars on these sessions (including Beth Ditto of the Gossip and Latin EDM artists Systema Solar) suggest Stein and Deborah Harry struggled to find their own voice within this material, which ignores pop and rock in favor of dance-influenced sounds without the playful downtown cheek of "Heart of Glass" or "Rapture." As for Harry, her vocals are cool, stylish, and well-controlled, but there's a lack of fire or dynamics in her performances that suggests she's chosen a deliberately narrow range as time takes its inevitable toll on her voice (she was 68 years old when she cut these sessions, and while she sounds quite good for her age, she's clearly not the singer she once was). And was anyone really waiting for Blondie to cover Frankie Goes to Hollywood, especially with such a disinterested tone? On disc two, Greatest Hits Deluxe Redux contains newly re-recorded versions of 11 of their better-known sides, and like most examples of an artist re-doing their hits, these performances fall significantly short in a side by side comparison with the originals, though this is livelier than the Ghosts of Download sessions and features the full band playing with professionalism and a certain elan (Clem Burke's drumming is as crisp and forceful as ever). Harry's vocals are more pleasing here as well; while her range is still narrower than in her prime, she cheats the missing notes more gracefully, perhaps because she's been doing it on-stage for some time now. But one would imagine that anyone who is enough of a fan to buy Blondie's 10th studio album in the year 2014 would already own these 11 songs in their original form, and Greatest Hits Deluxe Redux adds little value to this package, nice as it is to hear some of these tunes again. © Mark Deming /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2002 | Chrysalis\EMI Records (USA)

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Rock - Released January 1, 2003 | Chrysalis\EMI Records (USA)

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. True punksters may have deplored the group early on (they never had the hip cachet of Talking Heads or even the Ramones), but Blondie's secret weapon, which was deployed increasingly over their career, was a canny pop straddle -- they sent the music up and celebrated it at the same time. So, for instance, songs like "X Offender" (their first single) and "In the Flesh" (their first hit, in Australia) had the tough-girl-with-a-tender-heart tone of the Shangri-Las (the disc was produced by Richard Gottehrer, who had handled the Angels ["My Boyfriend's Back"] among others, and Brill Building songwriter Ellie Greenwich even sang backup on "In the Flesh"), while going one step too far into hard-edged decadence -- that is, if you chose to see that. (The tag line of "Look Good in Blue," for example, went, "I could give you some head and shoulders to lie on.") The whole point was that you could take Blondie either way, and lead singer Deborah Harry's vocals, which combined rock fervor with a kiss-off quality, reinforced that, as did the band's energetic, trashy sound. This album, released on independent label Private Sound, was not a major hit, but it provided a template for the future. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Rock - Released May 5, 2017 | BMG Rights Management (UK) Ltd

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Pop - Released January 1, 2005 | Chrysalis\EMI Records (USA)

Rock - Released January 1, 2006 | Capitol Records

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Rock - Released September 28, 1979 | Chrysalis\EMI Records (USA)

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Rock - Released January 1, 1981 | Chrysalis\EMI Records (USA)

Although Blondie made several first-rate albums, most of their best songs were released as singles, which makes The Best of Blondie an essential collection. The Best of Blondie glosses over their punk roots -- very little from the first album, apart from the vicious "Rip Her to Shreds" and the seductive "In the Flesh" -- but the band's pop hits are among the finest of their era and encapsulate all of the virtues of new wave. Apart from genuine chart hits like "Heart of Glass," "One Way or Another," "Dreaming," "Call Me," "Atomic," "The Tide Is High," and "Rapture," Best of Blondie picks up several of the group's best album tracks, like "(I'm Always Touched by Your) Presence, Dear" and "Hanging on the Telephone." The Best of Blondie isn't all you need to know, but it is an excellent introduction to one of the best new wave bands. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2001 | Chrysalis\EMI Records (USA)

In artistic terms, Plastic Letters, Blondie's second album, was a classic example of the sophomore slump. If their debut, Blondie, was a precise update of the early-'60s girl group sound, delivered with an ironic, '70s sensibility, its follow-up seemed to consist of leftovers, the songwriting never emerging from obscurity and pedestrian musical tracks. The production (again courtesy of Richard Gottehrer) was once again bright and sharp, but in the service of inferior material it alone couldn't save the collection. The two exceptions to the general mediocrity were "Denis," a revival of Randy & the Rainbows' 1963 hit "Denise," for which Deborah Harry sang a verse in French to justify the name and gender change, and "(I'm Always Touched by Your) Presence, Dear," written by Gary Valentine, who had left Blondie shortly before the recording of the album. Due to these two songs, the album became a commercial success, at least overseas. British-based Chrysalis Records had bought out Private Stock, giving Blondie greater distribution and more of an international marketing focus. The result was that "Denis" broke them in Europe, nearly topping the U.K. charts and followed into the Top Ten by "(I'm Always Touched by Your) Presence, Dear," with the album also peaking in the Top Ten. In the U.S., Blondie finally charted, making the Top 100. The songwriting problem did not seem to bode well, but they would take a distinctly different approach next time out. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2004 | Chrysalis\EMI Records (USA)

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Pop - Released January 1, 2003 | Chrysalis\EMI Records (USA)

Rock - Released January 1, 2009 | Capitol Records

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Rock - Released January 1, 2001 | Chrysalis\EMI Records (USA)

Autoamerican was Blondie's last real album (until their 1999 reunion with No Exit), after which the band collapsed in legal problems and solo aspirations. The Hunter was only made because they still owed Chrysalis an album on their contract, and it sounds like the obligatory record it was. "Island of Lost Souls" (the album's only U.S. singles chart entry and, in fact, the only song released as a single in the U.S.) was a try at remaking "The Tide Is High," while "The Beast" tried to re-create at least the rap section of "Rapture." "War Child," which made the U.K. Top 40, was a dance rock effort in the style of "Call Me," and one of two somewhat autobiographical Debbie Harry lyrics, along with "English Boys." (Harry wrote all the album's words except for those to keyboard player Jimmy Destri's "Danceway" and the cover of the Marvelettes' 1967 hit "The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game," which was written by Smokey Robinson.) "For Your Eyes Only" had been intended as the theme song for the 1981 James Bond film, but rejected (rightly) in favor of a competing entry by Bill Conti and Mike Leeson that went on to become a Top Five hit for Sheena Easton. The rest of the material was equally second-rate, consisting of funk-rock tracks with the barest of melodies, and lyrics that ranged from impenetrable ("Orchid Club") to incoherent (the science fiction epic "Dragonfly," which alternated recited and sung sections having something to do with a spaceship race). Blondie was always a band with ideas -- musical, lyrical, and visual -- but The Hunter found them running short conceptually as well practically. It was a disappointing end. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2005 | Chrysalis\EMI Records (USA)

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Pop - Released September 23, 1978 | Chrysalis\EMI Records (USA)

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Rock - Released January 1, 2005 | Chrysalis\EMI Records (USA)

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Rock - Released January 1, 2009 | Capitol Records

Rock - Released January 1, 2009 | Capitol Records

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Blondie in the magazine
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