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Blondie - 1980 Autoamerican



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ARTIST: Blondie
ALBUM: Autoamerican
LABEL: Chrysalis
SERIAL: CHE 1290
YEAR: 1980
CD REISSUE: 2001, Chrysalis 72435-33595-2-2 (with bonus tracks)

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Debbie Harry - lead vocals * Chris Stein - guitar, tympani * Frank Infante - guitar * Jimmy Destri - keyboards * Nigel Harrison - bass * Clem Burke - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Europa * 02 Live It Up * 03 The Tide Is High * 04 Angles On The Balcony * 05 Go Through It * 06 Do The Dark * 07 Rapture * 08 Faces * 09 T-Birds * 10 Walk Like Me * 11 Follow Me

WEBLINKS: www.blondie.net


Background
Back in their late 70's heyday I could only take so much Blondie. Debbie Harry's sultry and yes, contrived punk rocking sex-kitten image on every magazine cover was overkill even in the pre-MTV days and while the art rock-ish 1978 album 'Parallel Lines' which included Robert Fripp on the dazzling 'Fade Away And Radiate' captured my ears briefly, I was never enamored with Blondie beyond that album with the exception of the occasional single. Today, I'm still not convinced they were up to the level of the great power pop bands like The Cars and Cheap Trick or as arty as the Talking Heads/David Bowie/Roxy Music axis but they were certainly groundbreaking when they wanted to be and with their fifth album 'Autoamerican', they dragged new wave by the skinny tie kicking and screaming into the 80's and never looked back.


The Songs
With producer Mike Chapman once again at the helm, Blondie were in no mood to repeat artistically. The success of their previous album 'Eat To The Beat' allowed the band to push the musical envelope and opening with the classical overture of 'Europa', this was definitely not business as usual but what's up with Harry's spoken word piece on the cultural state of the Automobile towards the end? Huh? This theme pops up occasionally throughout the album, hence the album title but what does it all mean? 'Live It Up' has a sparkling Studio 54 vibe which considering that scene was in its death throes in 1980 could be seen as a brave move. 'Here's Looking At You' with its sweet old-timey jazz flavor is endearing but 'The Tide Is High' is a step-up and one of two hits pulled from the record, yet while a cover of an obscure 60's Reggae tune, it works rather well especially the clever use of horn sounds. Kraftwerk influenced electronics open the superb 'Angels On The Balcony' and I like the keyboard fronted Middle Eastern influenced dance send-up 'Do The Dark', but it's 'Rapture' with its combination of funk, disco and yes, rap that's the set's standout. Apparently the first hit single to feature a Rap (#1 in the U.S.), it's hardly the gutter-tripe, 'kill whitey, she my ho' trash the genre would later become known for and it's a pretty good tune really with a rather cool guitar solo tacked on near the end. After a couple weak fillers the album closes with the haunting 'Follow Me' which is another cover, this time pulled from the theatrical version of the 1960's play 'Camelot' and was later covered by both Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett; again not your typical Blondie fare and better for it.


In Summary
The CD reissue is worth getting as it includes the top 10 Giorgio Moroder produced single 'Call Me' which only appeared on the 1980 'American Gigolo' soundtrack, 'The Tide Is High' B-side 'Suzy & Jeffrey' and the disco remix of 'Rapture' which goes on for 7 minutes too long in my opinion but hey, grab the missus, break out the mirror ball and platforms and have some fun!


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This article has been tagged
Tags: Blondie 
 
Comments
#1 | super80boy on December 20 2015 15:47:16
For the most part, Autoamerican was a departure from Blondie's new wave oriented formula, you get that idea right out of the gate with the weird 'Europa' and then on the lounge tinged 'Faces'. One of the best songs is the new wave synth gem 'Angels On The Balcony' with the stealthy 'Do The Dark' being a close runner up. 'Rapture' is a ground breaking song with it's potpourri of styles coupled with the rapping Debbie Harry…just killer for the time and it still stands up. The band gets back to their old new wave/power pop ways with the punchy 'Walk Like Me'. I really liked what they did with the album artwork - it's one of the best jackets of their catalogue.
#2 | reyno-roxx on December 27 2015 11:19:57
Always loved the cover art, if not the entire album.
My friend Xoch, who released a pop rock album on Now And Then (towards the last days of the label's lifespan) has just recorded great cover of 'Rapture' on her latest CD. Check out www.xoch.com
 
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