Martin Cooper turns his attention to catchy pop with the style of Blondie’s Chris Stein.
This month we take a look at one of the most iconic bands of the past 40 years; Blondie. Founded in 1974 by singer Deborah Harry and guitar player Chris Stein, the band was at the very front of the New Wave scene for around a decade during the late 70s and early-80s. Fusing new wave and punk on the first two albums, the band tasted a degree of success in the UK, but it was in 1978 with the release of Parallel Lines that they hit the big time around the world, and Debbie Harry became a household name and face. Although the band retained its new wave roots, the quartet managed to build an infectious blend of rock, reggae and even disco into their style and always laid it on the foundation of good pop songwriting.
Like many of the other punk bands of the 1970s, Blondie was often seen performing in the early days of their career at the renowned CBGBs club in New York, and it was there that
2014 sees Blondie’s 40th anniversary, and the band is currently on a worldwide tour to celebrate four decades of deserved success.
front woman Harry began to get recognition from the likes of Rolling Stone magazine for the confident swagger with which she sang and fronted the band.
Their most successful period came with hits like Heart Of Glass with drummer Clem Burke taking inspiration from Kraftwerk for the beats, and also putting the disco style of artists such as the Bee Gees into the melting pot, with stratospheric success. More hits followed in the late 70s and early 80s before the band initially called time on their career.
Debbie Harry went on to have some success in the late 80s before the band inevitably reformed in 1997 and released the No.1 single Maria in 1999. There have also been other notable acts that have taken inspiration from Blondie, and particularly from their front woman, such as Gwen Stefani’s No Doubt. 2014 sees Blondie’s 40th anniversary, and they are currently on a worldwide tour (including UK dates) to celebrate four decades of deserved success.
This month’s track blends rock, new wave and touches of reggae, and is in the key of D minor (D E F G A Bb C), although there are some non-diatonic chords such as a B major chord in the intro (B D# F#), and the recurring A major (A C# E), both of which add a slightly uncomfortable edge to proceedings. It’s all played quite loudly, but with a good deal of control and plenty of space (a common characteristic of new wave and reggae). A lot of the parts use single notes as well, rather than chords, and one of the effects of this is that when the rock chords happen, they add more impact. The solo is simple, yet melodic and follows the D minor scale throughout. Thanks to Mark Prentice this month for playing bass.
Debbie Harry and Chris Stein playing live at Dingwalls,