Classic Singers 7 – Debbie Harry

I had to change tack on this one. My shortlist of excellent songs just got way too long. I listened to all the albums, reacquainting myself with Auto American and The Hunter along the way. I hadn’t listened to much Blondie for years and I realised what I had been missing. In my youth I sought out the complete back catalogue, so enamoured was I with the music. And it is an awesome collection of classy music. Even the sometimes maligned Auto-American album, which dips into a bit of jazzy slow ballads, just resonates.

The album that really got me thinking and going through my back catalogue was the sublime Parallel lines. I don’t think there is a mediocre track on it – just great songs that combine melody, lyrics, and awesome musicianship with Debbie’s voice. I mean Fade Away and Radiate, Hanging on the Telephone, Pretty Baby – and the rest.  I hate to hark back, but I can’t really equate Debbie Harry’s recent work with this, even the single Maria, which I really enjoyed.

I always thought there was a tension with Blondie between a desire to play old-style rock’n’roll and moving into contemporary punk –inspired theme of the time. If you take a listen their debut album, Blondie, you’ll hear a touch of reggae (almost) in Man Overboard. This confluence of styles is, in my opinion,  what made them what they were. An awesome sounding band with a really talented singer and a distinctive sound. I love her to bits!

To summarise where I got to. There were way too many standout songs for me to whittle down to five (and I’m not going to list them – too many), so I decided to take a different route. I have chosen five songs that I think are not as widely known but for me still resonate with class and melody – and that great voice. And let’s not forget the rest of the band as musicians.

So, the songs

Scenery – a demo recorded in 1976 originally, and I think included on the album Plastic Letters (at least subsequent releases after the original). This is a great 60s feel to it. Might even have been a b-side although this appears to be contradicted by some sources (in those days when we all went and bought vinyl singles – I do miss those days). I wouldn’t mind seeing what Sid’n’Susie made of this one – I think Susanna Hoff’s voice would work well. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMpERuVmG7A

11:59 – perhaps not the best known song off Parallel Lines, but my favourite. There is a great sense of desperation here – a race against the clock. But Debbie Harry’s voice is perfect for this song and the classic 70s synthesiser makes a good breakdown point at the end of verse two. The drumming is sublime too. It just rocks.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3A62VPyfRrY

I Didn’t Have the Nerve To Say No – This is from Plastic Letters, the second Blondie album. I’m not sure how I’d describe this style. It’s a sort of hybrid with 50s & 60s rock and pop with a great little guitar part and some 70s synthesiser.  I love listening to this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADMReZ3Wio0

Accidents Never Happen  – off Eat to the Beat, released in 1980. A great song and a good live performance to go with it. There is a dark undertone to this track and some excellent guitar work and drums (I love listening to Clem Burke’s drumming).  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1p4DGOfddpg

I’m Not Living in the Real World  – this was also off the album Eat to the Beat and has more than a smidgeon of punk in it and rocks along nicely. The clip I have included shows the whole band. I am still tapping my feet as I type this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5dSHe5UK44

So, there you go. Have a listen and see what you think. Next up…who knows…maybe a bloke, maybe not.

George

About George Fripley
I am a writer who enjoys writing humour, satire, poetry and sometimes a bit of philosophy. I live in Perth, Western Australia and occasionally get a poem or article published. It's all good fun! I have two books available for unwary readers, Grudges, Rumours and Drama Queens- The Civil Servant's Manual (This contains all that anybody could ever want to know about why government runs so slowly) and More Gravy Please! - the Politician's Handbook. (available through Amazon)

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