Chorus and Verse
HOME ARCHIVE BLOGS OPPORTUNITIES CONTACT
Chorus and Verse Book Except
Blondie
Blondie took the music world by storm in the late '70s and early '80s, and the influence of this band and its lead singer Deborah Harry is still being felt today and increasingly recognized with the passage of time. - Allan Metz
by Allan Metz
 [Chorus and Verse] Book Excerpt: "Blondie, From Punk to the Present: A Pictorial History" by Allan Metz
Blondie, From Punk to Present: A Pictorial History

"Will I like this book?" asked Deborah Harry, the still sultry lead singer of Blondie, when recently presented with an advance copy. She definitely will, and so will you!

Announcing the first new book on Blondie in two decades. Over three years in the making, Blondie, From Punk to the Present: A Pictorial History was published in August 2002. This distinctive 8 1/2" x 11" softbound book contains 514 pages of articles, essays, and photographs on Deborah Harry and Blondie. The book is available for purchase on Amazon.com and through Blondie.net, the official Blondie website.

Blondie took the music world by storm in the late '70s and early '80s, and the influence of this band and its lead singer Deborah Harry is still being felt today and increasingly recognized with the passage of time. Blondie reunited in the late 1990s, produced a new album, No Exit, in 1999, and another album is due in 2003. In the meantime, we all await with anticipation as to what Blondie holds in store for us in the future.

New York City-based Blondie was formed in 1974, honing its musical skills at the famous punk rock club, CBGBs, and eventually emerging on top of the new wave scene and then crossing over to the pop music mainstream. Their self-titled first album, Blondie, reflected a punk ethos and 1960s girl group sensibilities or, the Ramones meets the Ronettes, as one music critic opined. Blondie made six albums from 1976 to 1982, the most successful being Parallel Lines, considered by many music critics to be one of the best rock albums of all time. Within this time span, from the late seventies to the early eighties, Blondie constituted a major force on the rock/pop scene, producing a string of hit singles internationally. The most well-known of these singles are the reggae-inspired "The Tide Is High," the rap song "Rapture," and the disco-flavored "Heart of Glass" and "Call Me." More recently, in 1999, the single, "Maria," debuted at number one in the United Kingdom, making this song the sixth number one single for the group there. With this hit single, Blondie reached yet another milestoneâ€"the first band to have had a number one single in each of the last three decades in the United Kingdom. So Blondie continues to make music history and the band's legacy grows. The members of Blondie are true pioneers in every sense of the word.

This comprehensive compendium is more than the usual anthology since it contains essays from such well-known insiders as Chris Stein, Blondie's co-creator, and Victor Bockris, respected music journalist and critic.

The text is divided into chronological sections covering the early days of Blondie, punk rock and new wave music a quarter of a century ago, through Deborah Harry’s solo career, the band’s reunion, and into the new millennium.

In addition to the comprehensive text, the book is about one-fifth photographic content, and is divided into three sections covering the band's early years, Debbie's solo period, and the band's reunion.

The large photo sections present the fine work of such internationally acclaimed rock photographers and photo documentarians as Roberta Bayley, Bob Gruen, Stephanie Chernikowski, Marcia Resnick, Tina Paul, Mick Rock, Ebet Roberts, Joe Ryan, Pete Still, Mike Morton, Sylvie Ball, Teresa Hale, and many more.

The volume is rounded out by a series of selections in an Appendices section, an extensive Bibliography, and seven indexes. The book constitutes a valuable reference resource, and encompasses the more general subject of American popular culture.

Deborah Harry, The Country Club, Reseda, California

Preface

This book is an edited collection of interpretative narrative on Blondie from a variety of sources through text and the visual medium of photography. To understand this phenomenon, it is necessary to trace Blondie's roots by first considering the decade in which it emerged in an analytical essay on the 1970s by Victor Bockris, who collaborated with Deborah Harry and Chris Stein on the book entitled Making Tracks: The Rise of Blondie and is generally acknowledged as the de facto Blondie biographer as a result of this book and his subsequent work. Attention next turns to the nature of punk, punk music in the United States (primarily New York City) and how it differed from its British counterpart, the punk scene in New York City where the band originated, and then proceeds to a discussion of Blondie within this context through to the present time. The Foreword is by Bockris, who provides a new overview of Debbie and Blondie together with the observations and insights that only he could provide. The Introduction is based on and is an elaboration of the introduction to a published annotated bibliography I compiled, which has been since adapted and supplemented since its submission* and is followed by a heartfelt note from editor, Robert Betts.

All ten selections in the "Punk" section of Part I are adapted from Jessamin Swearingen's typescript of her Division III examination from Hampshire College and her web site, which adapted the thesis to a web format.** Both direct and so insightful, her compelling writing eloquently captures the punk ethos. Appended to the chapter on the Ramones are an Associated Press obituary on Joey Ramone and quotes from his contemporaries, the Go-Go's and Chris Stein. The section "Blondie and Punk" consists of selections by Bob Betts, Russell White, former Blondie bassist Gary Valentine, another essay from Jessamin Swearingen, a film review by Jon Erkider, and an original essay by Victor Bockris commissioned specifically for this book. All provide retrospective looks at the band and its roots and round out the section.

Part II addresses the period between Blondie's breakup in 1982 and its reunion efforts of the mid and late 1990s. The first selection in this section is written by Lisa Diedrich, a very knowledgeable and articulate Blondie fan. The next selection is an addendum to the previous selection, consisting of my reflections and elaborations on the points made by Lisa plus incorporating her additional observations on this period. Daniel Porter's selection on Deborah Harry's solo career offers a British perspective on this period, serving as a complement to the previous two selections. Next is an insightful 1989 Deborah Harry performance review by Scott Coblio followed by a reprint of a 1991 interview with Richard Harry (Deborah Harry's father) conducted by Brian La Fountain. Jazz is the subject of the next two selections in Part II-reviews of Jazz Passengers' concerts featuring Deborah Harry. In addition to writing the Foreword, the essay "Blondie's Punk Roots" plus the adapted essay! on the 1970s, Victor Bockris further enhances this book with a previously unpublished original uncensored version of a 1996 High Times magazine interview with Deborah Harry. Part II concludes by returning to the subject of jazz with an insightful article by Robert L. Doerschuk on Deborah Harry as a jazz vocalist and the distinction between singing jazz vs. rock and roll.

Apollo Theatre, Manchester, England

Part III consists of reprinted magazine and newspaper articles plus a number of unedited versions of previously published articles, which makes them unique. Many contain both a recent account of contemporary Blondie as well as an historical perspective on the band. The relative newness of these writings has the two-fold advantage of providing a perspective by placing the band in this historical musical context in relation to its reunion and focusing on the present and future without overly dwelling on the past because this reunion is not about nostalgia, but what exciting and groundbreaking territory Blondie has yet to explore. This section is arranged as follows: Interviews, Profiles, Album Reviews, Concert Previews and Reviews, and On Their Craft. All these sections are arranged in either exact or at least approximate chronological order to attain a better flow of the text, with the exception of On Their Craft, which worked better with a non-chronological sequence of selections as Clem Burke, Chris Stein, and Deborah Harry discuss the finer technical points of their musicianship. Of course, while some of these selections could have been placed in one or more other categories, achieving a balance among the selections was an important consideration.

Part IV concludes the main text of the book and consists of three sections: the first contains overviews of the band-the first two selections are both historical and contemporary while the remaining selections in this section are in the form an essay on Blondie's visual image, a poem, and commentary by Victor Bockris on previously unpublished quotes he compiled from Deborah Harry on a wide variety of subjects. The next section offers comprehensive critical analyses of Blondie's discography from an American and then British perspective. Part IV ends on a personal note with a series of Appreciations, both adapted and original remembrances which articulately sum up Blondie and Deborah Harry's appeal to a number of the book's contributors and other writers.

A section of appendices follows Part IV consisting of a genealogy/chronology, a selective album discography listing with album tracks, an interview with a major mover among Blondie fandom, two photo exhibit reviews, a unique and interesting physiological analysis of Clem Burke during concert performances, a listing of libraries that own the Making Tracks book, and a selective listing of major web site links. An Afterword by John Sibby closes the text with his unique poetic style. The Afterword is followed by an extensive References/Bibliography section, which includes material either directly about Blondie or related to the band. Multiple indexes complete the book.

In addition to the text, photography is the book's other focal point. The photos capture Blondie then, now and in-between and are arranged in three separate photo sections corresponding to the text. The first photo section contains photos by professional photographers as they portray the electricity and intensity of Blondie at its height of fame on both sides of the Atlantic - the U.S. and Great Britain. The second photo section, focusing on Deborah Harry's solo career, contains numerous photos provided by fans and professional photographers, including many outstanding ones of Deborah Harry with the Jazz Passengers both in the U.S. and Europe. Blondie's tours in 1998 and 1999 afforded professional and fan photographers alike ample opportunity to capture the band on film once again. You will see and enjoy the fruits of their labor in the third photo section.

Allan Metz

*Allan Metz, "The Musical Legacy of Blondie: An Annotated Bibliography." Bulletin of Bibliography 56, 4(December 1999): 189-217.

**Jessamin Swearingen, "We Created It: Let's Take It Over!: The Emergence of Punk in America." Typescript of a Division III examination in the School of Social Science, Hampshire College, May 1993.

From Blondie, From Punk to the Present: A Pictorial History, by Allan Metz. © August 2002, Musical Legacy Publications used by permission

©August 2002, Musical Legacy Publications

Allan Metz is a reference librarian at Drury University, Springfield, Missouri. In addition to the book on Blondie (which is available on Amazon.com), he also co-edited the book entitled The Madonna Companion: Two Decades of Commentary (New York: Schirmer, 1999; Music Sales Corporation, 2000). He also has compiled a series a bibliographical articles on the Cardigans, Garbage, the B-52s, Chrissie Hynde/Pretenders, the Bangles, the Go-Go's, Bananarama as well as two articles on Blondie for the journal, The Bulletin of Bibliography.

His current project, still in its very early stages, is an edited anthology on the theme of women in popular music and rock with the proposed title of "Women in Popular Music: From Riot Grrrls to Rappers, A Reader" (under consideration by a university press), which reflects the main focus of his music research/interest.

He also is the webmaster of a number of websites, two of which complement the book on Blondie noted above. In the future, he plans on teaching two online courses: one on punk music, and the other on women in popular music/rock.

©2002, Chorus and Verse
US iTunes, App Store, iBookstore, and Mac App Store
US iTunes, App Store, iBookstore, and Mac App Store
Content:
Front Page
Content Archive
Blogs
About:
Contact Us
Opportunities
Chorus and Verse on LinkedIn