After reaching the mountain top with their album of punk-power pop par excellence "Parallel Lines" there really was only one way [or another- sorry couldn''t resist that] for Blondie, but with hindsight whatever route they chose the direction was always going to be down....See more
After reaching the mountain top with their album of punk-power pop par excellence "Parallel Lines" there really was only one way [or another- sorry couldn''t resist that] for Blondie, but with hindsight whatever route they chose the direction was always going to be down. Like many people I bought "Eat To The Beat" when it was originally released only to be disappointed expecting better from Debbie Harry, then at the top of her game, and the now six piece Blondie. So today I am listening afresh to "Eat To The Beat", but this time it''s the cut-price 2001 CD reissue. It''s not that "Eat To The Beat" is a bad album, after all it does contain a three of Blondie''s very best songs in "Dreaming", "Union City Blue" and "Atomic", but it''s still disappointing: the quality control is missing and with its variety of styles: pop, punk, reggae, funk and a truly ghastly lullaby it lacks end-to-end cohesion and consistency, not a charge you could level at its predecessor. But "Eat To The Beat" gets off to a flying start with a trio of singles. Opening with the superb "Dreaming " a UK number two, followed by the hard rocking US single "The Hardest Part" and then possibly my all-time favourite Blondie song, the UK single "Union City Blue". What a start, what trio of songs, and I often used to stop there because, with the exception of "Atomic", the rest of the album fails to reach these heights. "Shayla", the fourth track is a ballad, ok, but the instrumentation has touches of prog and for much of the song it just doesn''t sound like Blondie. The title track "Eat To The Beat" has a punky drive that sets my toes tapping and some wonderful harmonica, it''s good but sounds a bit raw in this company [would have worked well on the eponymous debut or "Plastic Letters" but not here]; "Accidents Never Happen" is a bit too close to being Blondie by numbers and would be a throwaway if it wasn''t for the extended outro that closed the original first side. Side two was never as good as side one. Opening with "Die Young Stay Pretty", an awful piece of rap, yes I know this was 1979 and everyone was climbing on the rap appropriation band-wagon, but this must have been the worst of the lot! And it''s followed by the sham early 60s girl group sound of "Slow Motion" which doesn''t do anything for me. But then things get better, a whole lot of better with "Atomic", and quite frankly it''s the only reason I ever had for playing side two. This is the album version not the single version, it opens with the extended intro that builds on the three blind mice theme, and has an extended down and dirty funky middle eight; I have never understood why I love this song with its rock meets disco sound, on paper it should be everything I hate, but it isn''t, its a masterpiece of song-writing and a guilty pleasure. The less said about the lullaby "Sound-A-Sleep" the better [and that''s way far more than it deserves]; I still don''t get the curious mash-up of ideas that is "Victor", I can''t imagine that anyone actually thought this worked when they recorded it, maybe they just thought it would be kind to give Frank Infante a writing credit; and closer "Living In The Real World" is a an up-tempo punky thrash, given the weird mix of styles on the second side I assume they thought why not throw this in as well while they were about it? It''s Ok but never gave me a reason for playing the whole of side two So it''s very good in a few places, ok''ish in some, but really very bad in the others, it''s no "Parallel Lines" and that''s why this is still only a three star album for me. But my release then has four bonus track. I don''t normally review bonus tracks but on this rare occasion they actually add value. The first of these is a live recording of "Die Young Stay Pretty" which is far better than the album''s studio recording and I have to take some of my earlier comments back, but why didn''t they record it like this in the first place? Next up is a cover of the Four Tops'' "Seven Rooms of Gloom" and it''s another thumbs up; then there''s a sublime close-but-not-too-close cover of Bowie''s "Heroes"; and finally there''s a cover of Johnny Cash''s "Ring Of Fire", ok so perhaps not all the bonus tracks are a bonus but three out of four ain''t bad! But it''s these bonus tracks that rescue this package, and that''s fundamentally wrong in my mind, but it''s makes this album worth a cut-price punt. But, and as I''ve said before, if you''re only going to buy one Blondie album buy "Parallel Lines".