BOOK REVIEW: Blondie
From Punk To The Present -- A Pictorial History (Musical Legacy Publications)
By: Vinnie Apicella
Before embarking on a long winded introduction to this mountainous undertaking spotlighting the storied career of a then and again Rock legend, I thought it best to begin with some "Concluding Observations" as presented on the 512th and final page of the volume as adapted and edited from The Blondie Review: "Blondie is-- a band with one of the most successful reunions in rock history; a band that has produced number one records in three decades; a band with significant sales and chart statistics covering 26 years of rock and roll; a band that has influenced the style of many modern artists and groups; a band that has opened the doors for many modern artists; a band that has been copied and covered-- but never duplicated." So apparently somebody did read my previous build up on the latest Blondie reissue series and Greatest Hits release in the aftermath of their successful reunion tour of a few years ago. Or maybe not-- But suffice to say, the compilers of this monstrous publication, awe-inspiring to say the least, hold the band to such a high esteem they should go through all this trouble to reaffirm a true Rock n' Roll legend that lasted less than a decade, didn't strike their first major hit until their third album, and left a struggling scene they helped uplift with barely a whisper or bleary-eyed glance back from the listeners who loved them. For some sixteen years, from their 1982 swan song/nose dive, until their unsuspecting return with "No Exit" in 1998, no one knew or seemingly cared-- yet the blueprint had remained for the many others to follow and they were none to shy to say as much in the concluding quotes.
This book, a letter sized glossy covered paper back filled with fun facts, full page photos, and decades worth of frivolity, features an endless array of essays in and around the band's history and the musical scene they helped shape from their modest emergence of a low key lower east sider to the present day Punk Rockers and Pop queens who've all been touched in one way or another. Compilers Allan Metz and Robert Betts did enough homework here to satisfy the stiff requirements of any number of biographical-compiling big shots to the point where, as a reader, you come away feeling like not only were you there since the beginning (did you know CBGB's was originally a Blues/Country club?) you're making preparations for Sunday brunch with the bandmembers the next time they come to town. Never once is there an indication of anything less than utter pride, from the Stein-driven Prologue, to Metz's Acknowledgements page and Preface, to Music Journalist Victor Bockris's insightful Foreword, to Betts's Editor's Note to the back page references, there's no signs of stress fractures or cracks in this faithfully rendered collection. From the word go, readers are quickly led through a chronological series of well written essays and era articles written for and occasionally by the band, pulling many a classic feature from a golden moment in time, or the inspired recollection from those that were there.
In spite of its approximately 1/5th total of photographic contents, featuring the marked work of such internationally acclaimed rock photogs as Roberta Bayley, Bob Gruen, and Mick Rock, among many others, the pages seem dominated by stunning black and white visuals of some real gems reaching back to the beginning -- or the days of "Debbie" to "Deborah" onto the post-Blondie Harry solo foray to their well-received re-entry with "No Exit" where many of the accompanying storylines originate from. Discover the New York City scene for the first or fortieth, through in-depth analysis from the "Punk" perspective as drawn from the essential first of four parts as we follow the group and those they touched from the well-drawn layout of "Then," to "Between Acts," to "Now," and finally "In Retrospect." It's a historically accurate interpretation of the band, their music, and the scene that spawned them and that which they ultimately moved beyond before burning out a bit too quickly. Anything and everything pertaining to Blondie, the music, and their roots, is in here in full-page splendor that's above and beyond even the ardent fan's expectations. Readers will discover the impact of the band itself and the lasting impression it's made on throngs of cutting edge new artists and the in-vogue process of the current day coagulation of musical climes that in itself suggests how far ahead of their time Blondie was in the annals of music, fashion, and pop culture.
This is definitely a valuable resource for referential purposes or pure entertainment, well presented and structurally sound, with layouts making for easy reading and ease of viewing. Don't let the "Unauthorized Unofficial" front cover stamp fool you, it's authenticity competency, and comprehensibility are inarguable. The book is available through Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble online, or through Blondie.net, the official Blondie website. In addition, for more on the compilers of this book, further information can be found at The Blondie Review, "America's only Blondie fan magazine," by going to www.geocities.com/theblondiereview/TheBlondieReview.html.
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