Greatest Video Hits, released in conjunction with the audio CD Greatest Hits, is an expanded version of the 1981 VHS home video The Best of Blondie, which was released to complement the album of the same name. Blondie's heyday occurred just prior to the explosion of music videos caused by the founding of MTV in 1981, but as an international success the band cut a series of performance clips of its singles to be shown on local TV shows around the world. Thus, they are glimpsed in studios pretending to perform such favorites as "Picture This" and "Heart of Glass." Since the group's focal point, visually as much as musically, was the photogenic Debbie Harry, the lack of production values doesn't hurt; the videos are really about Harry's good looks and cascade of blonde hair. There are omissions among the group's hits: "Call Me," played during a taxi sequence that ties the videos together, doesn't really have its own clip, nor does "Sunday Girl," which comes at the end, and there is no representation at all for "One Way or Another." By the time of "The Tide Is High" and "Rapture," the videos are becoming more elaborate, and among the bonus videos is 1982's "Island of Lost Souls," which finds the band cavorting on a Caribbean beach. The final song is "Maria" from Blondie's 1999 reunion, which fudges the aging of the bandmembers with distracting effects and various film stocks. But the best videos are the early ones.
User Album Review
Many things were begotten by the New York class of 76 bands: Talking Heads gave us art-rock; the Ramones gave us freedom from anything using more than three chords and lasting more than two and a half minutes; Johnny Thunders gave us a template for Guns 'n' Roses (cheers Johnny) and Television gave us mind-bending guitars and bleating poetry. But what of Blondie? Always with an eye firmly superglued to the prize, they were often reviled for their ability to mould their perfect pop into chart-ravishing hits. Plus, they had a blonde singer with an appeal beyond the geeky new wave set, so they couldn't be taken seriously, could they? Wrong, and wrong again. History has, again proven that these boys (and girl) in skinny ties were one tough, pioneering bunch. Here's the proof.
Superceding previous hits collections due to their reformation (and subsequent #1 with ''Maria''), this collection brings us up to date. Despite the undoubted quality of the recent material, Blondie's place in the pop pantheon was assured by about 1980. How many other bands could fill an entire album with nothing BUT hits (including 7 #1s)? OK, the early singles from the first album (''Rip Her To Shreds'' and ''X Offender'') weren't really hits but check out the quality. It's clear that Chris Stein, Clem Burke, Jimmy Destri and co. knew exactly what they were doing from the word go.
You know the score, from the tumbling naivety of ''Denis'', to the widescreen bluster of ''Atomic'' or ''Union City Blue'', they couldn't put a stiletto wrong. There's the proto-rap of ''Rapture'' (bad pun, great single), the disco heaven of ''Heart Of Glass'' and the purest pop of ''Sunday Girl''. In all this chart-worrying action it's also worth remembering that they culled these nuggets from albums that never even approached shabby. Parallel Lines still stands as an artistic whole that's as valid and era-defining as Marquee Moon or Remain In Light.
So, no arguments - Blondie were, in modern parlance, the bomb. Musical chops, sharp suits and a singer whose iconic resonance has yet to fade. Yet again, they're gonna be your number one...
External Album Reviews