George Starostin's Reviews



Become a Certified Commentator today by following this link!

!!Before adding new comments, please check the GUIDELINES. Don't say I didn't warn you!!


No reader comments yet.


Steve Potocin <> (06.11.2003)

What a GREAT record!! Once again Clem Burkes drumming[ he was ,without adoubt the best New Wave-Punk drummer!]anchors everything.The songs are all top notch and performed brilliantly! Blondies finest record! [Their best song ever would be 'Dreaming'


Eric B. <> (14.01.2004)

what nobody reviewed this one yet?

this might be my favorite blondie album for reason's i can't explain.


Steve Potocin <> (23.11.2002)

This is not my favorite Blondie record, but it's pretty swell. First things first. Now George, it's true The Cars and Blondie both wore skinny ties and wrote catchy tunes, but....Blondie could and did rock. Why? CLEM BURKE! The old classic Nerves song [written by the fab Jack Lee] 'Hanging on The Telephone', rocks way harder than anything Rik and the boys ever did. But hey I like the Cars just as much as Blondie. Everybody knows the hits, but my faves are 'Pretty Baby', and 'Sunday Girl'. Man are they catchy! I'll give it a big thumbs up!

David Bulluss <> (25.11.2002)

This was my introduction to Blondie back in 1978. And wow! Favourite track? - a toss up between "Hanging on the telephone" which just rocks and "Picture this" with its great lyrics. A great album from start to finish without a bad track. Incidentally, the Australian release on vinyl in 1978 very soon included the extended version of "Heart of glass" in place of the normal track. I had to buy a copy of each version of the album!

Glenn Wiener <> (30.11.2002)

Good to see you branching out into some fine new wave from the seventies. This record is a keeper from start to finish. 'Heart of Glass' is an eclectic disco number and 'One Way Or Another' and 'Hanging By The Telephone' are spicy rockers. But you seem to forget about the energetic '11:59'? Its really just as good as the hits. The softer material, 'Pretty Baby' and 'Picture This' also bops along quite nicely.

These guys and gal really are overlooked talents. Deborah Harry has a very unique styling to her voice and the instrumental support is first rate especially Clem Burke's drumming. Kuddos indeed!

David Dickson <> (01.12.2005)

This band (at least on this album) is best when it steps away from the circa- 1978 New Yawk New Wave fast quick bang bang rawkah formula--basically, on pleasant, slowed-down diversions such as "Sunday Girl," "Fade Away and Radiate," "One Way or Another," and "Heart of Glass"--which, like you (sorta) said, pounds every other song on the album into the ground and wipes the floor with them copiously. My God, nothing else on the album even comes CLOSE.

The way I see it, New Wave rock of this kind is good only when it's really really hooky or really really hardcore. These guys (and gal) choose neither, opting for the really really witty/ironic. Witness my keyboard reaction: ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZKJHKOIUOIKUUUWEY Sorry. But the thing is, I've been thinkin' about yer little essay thing about punk rock being an angry conservative reaction. Tho' this band ain't angry, the whole "taking old music and making it sound dumbass, but tongue- in-cheek," to take your words, does seem, if not conservative per se, a little annoyingly retread. Come to think of it, a good deal of the pop on the radio circa 1956-1963 DOES seem pretty dumbass today. It just took Blondie to show it to us in an ironic happy flappy wheedly-deedly lightweight way, or something like that.

Forgive me if I'm not impressed. Well, not COMPLETELY impressed. I mean, if you wanna get technical about it, Led Zeppelin isn't much different--they put their own loud grungey horball spin on really old blues, and that's the main reason why they're legends. But I am IMPRESSED by their new spin on old ideas. I am IMPRESSED by their arrangments, their virtuosity, their charisma, and their sheer out-and-out POWER. I am not impressed by Blondie's ironic, kitschy attitude or female-empowering chutzpah--or, for that matter, by most of their songwriting. There's hooks, mind, but they're just not STRONG. They don't LEAN on them enough. They're there one minute and gone the next. They seem DESPERATE to get through the album and onto the next. Now, if I didn't listen to music at all, and just stared at the lyrics sheet and got my kicks from that, we'd have a different story here. Don't get me wrong, though. Those four songs I mentioned above are great, and even two of the fast annoying now-you-hear-them-now-you-don't songs are nice--"11:59" and the Buddy Holly cover. Aw. So cute.

Come to think of it, it all comes down to what "vibe" you prefer in your non- '60's music. Just as you despise the bombastic hero-working-man-celebrating hoo-hah of Born to Run, I tend to have severe allergies towards the kitschy, tongue-in-cheek wacked-out perpetually up-tempo minimalistic irony of. . . well, half the New Wave scene and a good chunk of the pre-Nirvana underground. Buncha kitschy, pot-headed, early-'60's-pop-culture-obsessed lunatics. (sorry) But that's just me. Some people have the odd idea that PROG is to be hated. That SHOW MUSIC is to be hated. That ARENA ROCK OF ALL STRIPES is to be hated. Oh well. Different allergies for different. . . uh. . . dang, nothing rhymes with that.

Bob Josef <> (21.06.2006)

As with a lot of stuff from the 70's (Rumours, Dreamboat Annie, for example), this is a lot more listenable 30 years later, when radio isn't force feeding it down your throat. Of course (with the exception of Clem Burke, whose Keith Moon fixation is even more obvious when you see him live, like I did on the Eurythmics' Revenge tour), the group's musicianship is extremely limited, and Harry really doesn't have much of a vocal range. But within those limits, you've got a really fun album. "Heart of Glass," rather than coming across as an overplayed disco annoyance, is now revealed as a nice, well arranged tune. No one mentions the cute 60's girl group influence that is very obvious in "Sunday Girl," "Pretty Baby" and the Buddy Holly cover. Some very cool lyrics in "Fade Away and Radiate" (same theme as the Airplane's "Plastic Fantastic Lover," apparently) and "11:59" (apocalyptic 40's film noir). The latter tune and the very sexy and aggressive "One Way or Another" are what pushed me to finally getting the album. I agree, energy and hooks galore on every song, though.

The bonus tracks on the reissue are pretty cool -- concert versions of "I Know, But I Don't Know," "Hanging on the Telephone" and T-Rex's "Bang a Gong." Also, there is an early, crude (no, keyboards -- sounds live in the studio) version of "Heart of Glass," which sounds pretty funky, even without all the production. And while these tracks demonstrate the band's lack of technical skill, they also demonstrate their energy. Particularly "Bang a Gong" -- play that back to back with "One Way or Another" for an especially potent dose.


Steve Potocin <> (28.11.2003)

Well, you've reviewed Blondies four great albums, the next Autoamerican, has their two big hits, but I think it was a stinker! I'm talking about that record because you took the words out of my mouth with your review on ETTB! What a GREAT record! And I'll say it again, CLEM BURKE!!!

Glenn Wiener <> (30.11.2003)

Another strong recording by Blondie. Hardly a bad song on here except the extreme shift from the coma inducing 'Sound A Sleep' to the very jarring 'Victor'. Not That moment is not for the faint of heart. 'Accidents Never Happen' is a cool song with a great guitar riff as is the big hit 'Dreaming'. Like you mentioned, the band covers a lot of ground from reggae to power pop to power punk and therefore the band scores big points on this collection.

BILL SLOCUM <> (02.12.2003)

Love your Ramones comment. And you are right about the album, too, except you rate it lower than Parallel Lines when it should be higher. The truth is one great song doesn't trump 5 or 6 very good ones, which is what ETTB has when you add up "Dreaming," "The Hardest Part," "Union City Blue," "Eat To The Beat," "Accidents Never Happen," and "Die Young Stay Pretty." Not that PL lacks other good songs after "Heart of Glass," just that ETTB has a deeper bench, and draws from a broader palette. Its a more interesting listen the 8th or 9th time around.

Blondie was the closest thing the '80s had to the Beatles, except they never made it past the trenchline. They had a great sense of what made pop music work, equal parts attitude, variety, and craft, and played all those elements to the hilt in their brief time under the sun. They don't really have a great album, but they have terrific songs, and maybe the largest single number of them were contained in ETTB. [Their biggest single Stateside, "Call Me," is not on any album but was recorded roughly at the same time as ETTB and has the same propulsive sexual longing filtered through a wry pop sensibility.]


BILL SLOCUM <> (10.12.2003)

This is where Blondie's admirable drive for diversity ran into trouble. See, there's organic diversity, where the change comes from within the artist or band itself, and non-organic diversity, where it comes from outside. As the opening track, "Europa," makes clear, this is an effort in which forces outside the band prevailed, to the detriment of the final result.

Can't say this is an entire failure, because it has two great singles in "The Tide Is High" (easily the best song on the album) and the meritable experiment "Rapture." Also, as you point out, "Here's Looking At You" is a terrific stab at Tin Pan Alley pop, right down to the spot-on orchestration and the Cole Porter off-tempo intro. Really like that one the more I hear it. Not just three good songs in my book, but three classics, among the best the schzoid early-80s had to offer.

But "Angels In The Balcony," George? You liked that song? It sounds like a tuneless slog to these ears, especially the atonal beginning. Maybe it's the warping effect from listening to such lame efforts as "Go Through It" and "Do The Dark." The whole rest of this album has nothing good in it, and only "Live It Up" would be okay. Its passable disco, just that the tone is wrong. Like you say, it's as if Debbie and the gang were being held hostage in the studio. "Say something here about T-Birds and maybe we'll let Clem keep his fingers." That sort of thing.

Maybe all the Boho pretensions Blondie had been successfully avoiding despite their Soho beginnings reached out and reclaimed just as they were arriving to their glory. They never really recovered from Autoamerican, despite the two big hits they had off it. But for singles lovers, there's still a measure of greatness to be enjoyed from one of the great singles band of their day.

Eric Bukowski <> (27.08.2005)

Having aquired the excellent Eat To The Beat and the good, but somewhat overrated Parallel Lines, I figured I'd dive into the misguided diversity which is Autoamerican.

I must say that I was even MORE underwhelmed than I anticipated. I had a bad feeling going into it, of the two hits on the album I actively can't stand "The Tide Is High" and am only moderately enamoured with "Rapture" so I was hoping that the remaining tracks would be a little better.

The 20's style lounge shit I am NOT a fan of, a main reason that Madonna's Dick Tracy soundtrack also falls on deaf ears.

Side one seems to drag on endlessly, hookless, empty tracks wham bam right in a row. I'm not sure if "Europa" was intended to be some kind of grand prologue to the rest of the album or not, if not grand it certainly sets the tone for the dreary and limp music to follow.

In the end, the album had two songs I ended up liking. The stark, subtle atmospherics of "Angels On the Balcony" definately win my vote for the best track on the album, this minimal Harry performance is one of her most captivating and the track has the bizarre feature of having a wordless chorus, just some simple, overdubbed "Ahhhhh" harmonies from Debbie and that beautiful guitar line. Works marvelously. "T-Birds" is one of few tracks (if there ARE more than a few here) that nearly capture the fun spirit of pre-fame Blondie. "Do The Dark" has a cool atmosphere to it if a trifle rediculous.

You are correct when you say that this is NOT the Blondie that recorded their previous stellar material. They sound wiped out and indifferent. It's a rare case where a bands reach is beyond their grasp and they couldn't care less if they reached what they were aiming for or not. It's truly puzzling considering that they had just released their best album (Eat To The Beat) the year before and had suddenly turned into the mess which recorded this album. Major disapointment and not even worthy of the 10/15 rating.


Michael Lawrence <> (06.12.2003)

It was interesting for me to read your reviews of Blondie's Eat to the Beat, Autoamerican, and The Hunter because you posted them after I made my own assessments of these albums. It was kind of a relief to me to discover that my overall opinion of all of these basically matches yours.

The only major discrepancy I have with your opinion on Blondie's The Hunter is my opinion of "War Child," which I think is just so uninteresting and boring compared to the stuff which surrounds it! Rather, I'm more attached to "The Island of Lost Souls," which I like for its fun and quirky take on a 30s style tropical song. I also don't think that "Dragonfly" is such an awful song, albeit it is just way too long.


Glenn Wiener <> (05.01.2004)

A nice comeback for this band.  A little short of the prime time Parallel Lines/Eat To The Beat Dys but the band does experiment.  Note the jazzy 'Boom Boom In The Zoom Zoom Room'.  The 'Congo' number and 'Shrieking skin' are other creative pieces. Howeer the real meat and potatoes numbers are 'Maria' and 'Nothing Is Real But The Girl'. These songs have drive and rock with abandon.


Eric B. <> (14.01.2004)

blondie goes teen pop? compete with britney spears?! why not. i bet chris stein looks great in a dress.

any ways, i got this album event hough you said it wasn't great shakes and it's not really but it's okay. i'll listen to it again someday.

Return to the main index page