A recent project, and a rather time consuming one at that I’ve undertaken has been to catalogue my entire music collection. Almost 25 years of vinyl, compact disc and cassette tapes. Thousands upon thousands of hours containing all sorts of marvelous musical wonders and maybe just even a few that left me scratching my head as to why I bought them to begin with. Either way, it’s a most thoroughly enjoyable hobby this music lark.
Last weekend, I stumbled on a collection of albums, released over a four year period that began in December 1976 and wound up in November 1980. It was, of course the first five LPs in the back catalogue of American post punk outfit, Blondie, fronted by the eternally delicious Debbie Harry.
It all began with a self titled offering, followed by Plastic Letters, Parallel Lines, Eat To The Beat before the last release in this grand series of albums, Autoamerican. That’s an incredible two number 1 albums, a top 5 album, with a top 10 and top 20 LP thrown in for good measure. Rather impressive I must say. On top of all that there were no less than fifteen hit singles, including six number 1 chart toppers!
Of course we all know Blondie continued beyond Autoamerican however, the breakneck speed in which these albums were delivered is something that perhaps has been unfairly forgotten over time. Let’s look at it this way. In the modern era of LPs, many artists of note struggle to come up with a new offering every five years. Controlled by record labels or, as with the likes of Taylor Swift, bereft of any real talent, yet somehow, tarted up enough to seem interesting and relevant for a shallow music buying public.
Many “artists” today require intense publicity campaigns, sugar coated image makeovers or, in the case of Miley Cyrus, daft gimmicks to gain publicity, attention and then sales. The music industry has become a parody of itself. It’s hard to imagine a band with the vigour of Blondie ever being allowed the artistic freedom to record and release at such a frantic pace again. The record labels won’t allow it for one and what’s more, the Debbie Harry’s of todays world are trampled over by karaoke singing talent contestants, ironically, singing songs by bands from Blondie’s era, a time when such “performers” were frowned upon.
Should you ever get the chance, pull out these first five Blondie LPs. play them back to back over a balmy evening with a glass of wine and allow your senses to be thrusted head first into a sumptuous trance of melodies, rhythm and riffs that make for some pretty damn fine albums!