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Three decades later, Blondie still reeling in fans

click to enlarge Blondie: Still red-hot after all these years.
  • Blondie: Still red-hot after all these years.

Blondie was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March, largely for the trailblazing music the group made in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Nearly 30 years after release, albums like 1978's Parallel Lines and 1979's Eat to the Beat remain among the best, most creative and, for that matter, diverse records of that era. Songs range from pithy guitar rock ("Hanging on the Telephone") to dreamy pop ("Picture This") to grooving dance pop (the disco-fied hit "Heart of Glass").

Blondie, who broke up in 1983, have returned to release two studio CDs, No Exit and The Curse of Blondie.

The recent CDs haven't made the same seismic impact as the early records. Yet during a teleconference interview with reporters, singer Debbie Harry, guitarist Chris Stein and drummer Clem Burke without hesitation agree that today's Blondie is better than ever.

"We sounded pretty damn weird sometimes, back then," Burke says. "I can't believe some of these songs that we the way they were recorded and what they used to sound like live. There was quite a disparity."

The quality of Blondie's current live show will be on display for fans this spring and summer, as the group co-headlines a tour with The New Cars a reconstituted version of the hit-making new-wave band, The Cars. (The New Cars include original members Elliot Easton and Greg Hawkes, with Todd Rundgren stepping in for frontman and chief songwriter Rick Ocasek.)

Stein was the prime mover in bringing Blondie back together. He began lobbying for a reunion in the mid-1990s, but it took several years before Harry, Burke and keyboardist Jimmy Destri agreed to rejoin forces.

"He just really stated his case, and I've always trusted him," Harry said in a 2004 interview. "He was very clear about doing it, and he said he felt it was really the right time, and if we didn't do it now, maybe we'd never get the chance. We might regret it." The band returned in 1999 with No Exit, which included a hit single, "Maria." The Curse of Blondie didn't spawn any hits, but it solidified the notion that Blondie was once again an active band. Of course, the Hall of Fame induction shows that Blondie's influence was firmly established long before the reunion. Harry and Burke offer a few thoughts on what earned Blondie their place in the Hall.

"You know, we did some pretty inventive things, and we sort of broke some ground and, you know, came out of a really powerful time in music," Harry says.

"When we started I think rock 'n roll music was in a pretty stagnant place," Burke adds. "I don't really even think that the bands at the time, for the most part, were in touch with the real roots of rock 'n roll ...

"I think we kind of pulled it back into the evolution of what rock 'n roll music has become now, along with, you know, The Ramones and various other bands of that ilk. I think that's probably one of our main contributions."

capsule

Blondie with The New Cars

Coors Amphitheater, 6350 Greenwood Plaza Blvd., Englewood

Tuesday, May 30, 7 p.m.

Tickets: $20.50-$395;call 520-9090 or visit ticketmaster.com.

  • Three decades later, Blondie still reeling in fans

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