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Friday, 25 April 2014

40 Years of Blondie Part Three: 1979-80


Following a fairly eventful 1978 came yet another year of success for Blondie in 1979. It all began on 3rd January when 'Heart of Glass' was released as the next single from the 'Parallel Lines' album.

Heart of Glass / Rifle Range (UK B-Side) / 11.59 (US B-Side).

The song had intially began life way back in 1974-75 as 'Once I Had A Love' and was commonly know to the band as 'The Disco Song'. A second version of it was recorded as a Demo in 1978 and was less funky but was beginning to show some signs of what it would eventually become. Debbie Harry has said that this one of the first songs they wrote as Blondie and they could never seem to get it right trying it as a ballad and as a Reggae song, "but it never quite worked".

When the band met Mike Chapman as they begun work on 'Parallel Lines' he had asked them to play through all the songs they had and when asked if there was anything else they mentioned this tune. Chapman liked it and and thought it was fascinating and from that moment began to bring some focus to the song. So, it actually might never had made it to the album had he not asked and Blondie wouldn't have known anything about having a record that was #1 in a number of countries around the world (including the USA - the single was released there in April 1979).

The 12" release contained a Disco Mix of the song and an instrumental mix as well. The release of the single also created some consternation among the New York New Wave community and I know that The Ramones were none too happy with them and spoke about them selling out and going disco (though Chris Stein said in an interview with The Guardian in April 2013 that it was "tongue-in-cheek. They were our friends").

May 1979 in the UK saw the release of the new 7" and 12" from Blondie, another track off of 'Parallel Lines' - 'Sunday Girl'. It hit the #1 spot in Australia and the UK and wasn't released in the USA as a single.

In the States the second single release would be 'One Way Or Another'. It would only climb as high as #24 on the Billboard Hot 100. The B-Side was 'Just Go Away'.

Another hit single followed in the UK in September with the lead single for the up and coming brand new album, 'Eat to the Beat'. The single would reach #2 and in the States it would peak at #27. One of the things I really love about this single is the drumming on it by Clem Burke, totally epic!
Dreaming / Sound Asleep (UK B-Side) / Living in the Real World (US B-Side).

October the brand new album hit the #1 spot in the UK (in the States it only made it as far as #17).

 Blondie's first video album was produced in conjunction with this record, featuring a promotional video for each of the album's 12 songs. It was the first such project in rock music. Most of the songs were filmed in and around New York, the exception was the 'Union City Blue' music video, which was filmed at Union Dry Dock, Weehawken, New Jersey. Each video was directed by David Mallet and produced by Paul Flattery. The video was initially available as a promotional VHS in 1979 and subsequently released on videocassette and videodisk in October 1980.

November 1979 and the band released the second single from the album and it only got to #13 in the UK Chart (it was never released as a single in the States). 'Union City Blues' is my favourite Blondie track ever.

In January 1980 in the States they chose 'The Hardest Part' backed by 'Sound Asleep' as the second single and it only reached #84 on the Billboard Hot 100. It is generally assumed that one of the main reasons for the lack  of success for the single was due to the popularity on radio of what would be their next single released in February, 'Call Me' from the Soundtrack to the movie 'American Gigilo'. The song spent 6 weeks at #1 in the USA and was also a #1 single in the UK.

Also released in February in the UK was 'Atomic'. It would become their third #1 single and sat there for two weeks.

There would be a bit of a long wait until the next release in October 1980, but we will deal with that in the next part.

1979 Videos

Convention Hall, Asbury Park 7th July 1979.

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