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Long live the New Flesh: The making of David Cronenberg’s ‘Videodrome’
04.29.2016
09:09 am

Topics:
Movies

Tags:
Debbie Harry
David Cronenberg
Videodrome


 
Videodrome, which came out in 1982, probably freaked me out as much as any movie ever has, when I caught it on cable TV a year or two after its release at the age of 13. In fact, I turned it off halfway through—it was just too much—but I ventured back a week later and watched the whole thing in morbid fascination.

It was the last of the films David Cronenberg made in his concentrated early “body horror” period, that stretch when he was establishing himself as an absolute master of intellectual schlock. Not that he ever abandoned that terrain at all—Dead Ringers, Naked Lunch, and Crash were still to come—but his next project was a comparatively commercial Stephen King adaptation, The Dead Zone, and it wasn’t too long before he’s adapting David Henry Hwang plays and making movies about Jung.

After the thrilling, entropic run of serious mindfucks between 1975 and 1982, consisting of Shivers, Rabid, The Brood, Scanners, and Videodrome—leaving out the racecar drama Fast Company to make a tidier chronology—there was a period in which Cronenberg’s actual personality and his public persona were quite out of sync.
 

Just a normal day in the Cronenberg universe…..
 
In real life, Cronenberg was a thoughtful, mild-mannered dork, but he was perceived as an insane freak, since cinephiles hadn’t had much access to seeing Cronenberg himself yet. The 1980s would bring The Fly and Dead Ringers, which would cement Cronenberg’s reputation as a filmmaker with a rare power to unsettle.

Today we think of him as this genial old guy who makes striking but somewhat conventional dramas like Eastern Promises or Maps to the Stars, but there was a time when even Martin Scorsese, a filmmaker quite accustomed to a bit of the ol’ ultraviolence, was actually frightened to meet his Canadian colleague!

In an interview that appeared in David Breskin’s wonderful collection Inner Views, Cronenberg commented:
 

I’m aware there are apparent contradictions, like the well-known Marty Scorsese thing: after I met him, he said in an interview that he had been terrified to meet me, though he had wanted to meet me. This is the guy who made Taxi Driver and he’s afraid to meet me! This is a guy who knows from the inside out that there’s a complex relationship between someone who makes films and his films. But he still was taking the films at face value and equating me with them, and the craziness he saw in the films, and the disturbing things he saw in the films, he felt would be the essence of me as a person. And so he was amazed to meet a guy who, as he later said, “looked like a Beverly Hills gynecologist.” And I was not anything like he thought I was going to be.

 
So that’s the context in which James Woods says, in Mick Garris’ look at the making of Videodrome, that Cronenberg’s was “one of the strangest minds I’ve ever encountered.” The fact is, Cronenberg’s sensibility has been tremendously normalized over the last generation, and it takes a mental effort to recall a time when Cronenberg was fucking dangerous and ultra weird.

To be fair, Woods was in the middle of making a movie in which his character, Max Renn, develops a kind of vagina into which he can insert a videotape and basically acts out the narrative laid out in David Bowie’s “TVC15” when he crawls into the cold glass of his cathode-ray tube…..

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘The biggest thing since World War III’: Lou Reed, Debbie Harry, and Iggy Pop talk ‘Rock and Rule’


 
The 1983 animated rock and roll movie Rock and Rule was a failure at the box office but found its audience on cable TV a couple years later. Produced by the Canadian animation studio Nelvana, the movie is a sci-fi rock and roll allegory between good and evil, pitting a rock band of cute mutants called the Drats against an ageing, Mephistophelian rock star/sorcerer named Mok who is intent on securing a special voice capable of unleashing a powerful demon from another dimension who will make Mok immortal. Rock and Rule had a similar look and feel to Heavy Metal, which came out in 1981.

Heavy Metal, true to its title, used music by Blue Öyster Cult, Journey, Grand Funk Railroad, Nazareth, Sammy Hagar, and, er, Donald Fagen, and similarly, Rock and Rule benefited from the contributions of Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire as well as Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, and Chris Stein and Debbie Harry of Blondie.

Nelvana released a 25-minute promo documentary about the making of the movie.  “Making of” documentaries of animated movies always have the potential to be dreadfully dull (due to the exacting and painstaking process involved), but in this case, since the subject matter of the movie is so much about rock and roll itself, it’s only appropriate to feature a lot of interviews with the musicians, which is the strategy adopted here.

Interestingly, both Maurice White and Chris Stein separately offer the perspective that they like writing music for movies because the overall artistic direction is already decided. Producer Michael Hirsh notes that Debbie Harry and Chris Stein were good choices as musical contributors because it was so exceedingly likely that they would give so much of themselves to the project.

Lou Reed, composer and singer of “My Name Is Mok,” had this to say about the movie’s heavy:
 

I felt very positive towards Mok because there are many things to work with, with him, I could identfy with him up to a point, but he was—the way he looked, the things he said, the kind of things he believed in, there were a lot of ways I could relate to that, and even though I don’t necessarily think that way I could really bite into his character and become that way with him, you know, and make him live and breathe like a real person.

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
When Debbie Harry wrestled Andy Kaufman, 1983
04.04.2016
10:05 am

Topics:
Amusing
History

Tags:
Debbie Harry
Andy Kaufman


Caitlan Clarke, Andy Kaufman and Debbie Harry,1983

Teaneck Tanzi: The Venus Flytrap was a 1983 Broadway play that starred Debbie Harry as “Tanzi,” Caitlan Clarke as “Tanzi” and Andy Kaufman as the “referee.” Debbie Harry and Caitlin Clarke had to alternate in the lead role of “Tanzi” because of the strenuous nature of the wrestling.

Apparently the play didn’t do too well, though. Despite its success in London, Teaneck Tanzi closed on Broadway after just a single performance.

From a 2007 Gothamist interview with Debbie Harry:

What can you tell us about your Broadway debut alongside Andy Kaufman in Teaneck Tanzi?

The Venus Flytrap? [Laughs.] Well, it was a very interesting little musical play. At the time, way back in the beginning of the ‘80s, Chris [Stein, co-founder of Blondie] and I were very big wrestling fans and we used to go to the Garden all the time because we had a friend who did all the promotion there and she would get us ringside seats. We had a great time and started going to wrestling many, many years before Cyndi [Lauper] starting hanging out with Lou Albano. So then all of a sudden I got this script and I thought it could be really fun. So we did the show for about three weeks in previews, downtown in a nice sort of loft space Off Off-Broadway. And it was great; the audiences were loud and everybody was shouting at the wrestlers just like a real wrestling match. And then they decided they were going to open it on Broadway and it opened and closed almost instantly! So I guess it was a little bit premature for Broadway.

 

 

 

 

More after the jump…
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
In the Flesh: Blondie’s perfect pop performance on German TV, 1978

aplasblond1.jpg
 
Most teenage males “of a certain vintage” were hipped to Blondie by the video for the single “Denis” with a slinky Debbie Harry in a red-striped swimsuit and cascades of backlit blonde hair. Understandable. My introduction was via the radio—which meant my focus has always been on the music. I bought the 45rpm record of “Denis.” Wore it out and had to buy another copy.

Of all the bands that came out of punk or new wave, for me there has never been one as brilliant as Blondie. New wave in the UK was generally angry and political. American new wave—as epitomized by Blondie—was musical, ingenious, subversive and unforgettable.

What makes a song last more than a generation is its infectious tunefulness. Songs that connect on an emotional level, at a liminal moment of approaching joy. Blondie have a major back catalog of these kind of songs—all of which will last decades longer than their three minutes of play. Perhaps centuries, who knows?
 

 
I missed out on their eponymous debut album, but got up to speed with the second album Plastic Letters and then Parallel Lines. With Parallel Lines one would have to go back to The Beatles to find a band that produced an album filled with only quality songs of utter pop perfection. All killer no filler, it played like a greatest hits from the very first spin.

That’s not to say Blondie were sweet—their songs were often double-edged and charged with complex meanings. A cursory listen to “One Way Or Another” might make you think it’s just some old romantic song rather one about a stalker. Or, how cold is the dreamy “Sunday Girl”? And who else could write such a bittersweet disco song such as “Heart of Glass”?

More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Classic shots of Grace Jones, Alice Cooper, Debbie Harry, Frank Zappa & more at the Grammy Awards

Grace Jones and Rick James arrive at the Grammy Awards, 1980
Grace Jones and Rick James at the Grammy Awards, 1983
 
One of my really awful guilty pleasures (I also love the band Rush, but I don’t judge and neither should you), is watching awards shows. I know, I know, they’re stupid, and that my street cred just went out to the dumpster to smoke cigarettes with Milli Vanilli. I’m okay with that.
 
Micky Dolenz and Michael Nesmith of the Monkees at the Grammy Awards, 1968
Micky Dolenz and Michael Nesmith of the Monkees at the Grammy Awards, 1968. The band was up for two awards for “I’m a Believer” (Group Vocal Performance and Contemporary Vocal Group), but lost both times to The Fifth Dimension’s “Up Up and Away.”
 
Alice Cooper and Stevie Wonder at the Grammy Awards, 1974
It does not get much cooler than this: Alice Cooper and Stevie Wonder at the Grammy Awards, 1974
 
Plenty more classic Grammy moments after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
New Wave: Debbie Harry wanted to remake Jean-Luc Godard’s ‘Alphaville’ with Robert Fripp


Robert Fripp as Lemmy Caution and Debbie Harry as Natacha von Braun

I recently came across the following entry from an issue of Radio Times dating from April 1979, describing an upcoming edition of a BBC 1 radio show called “Roundtable”:
 

Debbie Harry joins Kid Jensen to review the week’s new records.

Ultra blonde, ultra bombshell Debbie Harry is turning her thoughts to the big screen. She is thinking of starring with Robert Fripp (who used to be in King Crimson) in a remake of Alphaville, a 1966 film by Jean-Luc Godard. Blondie are recording their fourth album, tentatively called Eat the Beat.

 
Wait, what? Debbie Harry and Robert Fripp, to appear in a remake of Godard’s Alphaville??

It’s all true.

If you want the TL;DR version of this post, it goes like this: Around 1979 Debbie Harry and Chris Stein were interested in remaking Jean-Luc Godard’s futuristic 1966 movie Alphaville. Amos Poe was going to direct it, and there are images from a screen test that featured Harry and Fripp in character, images that were leaked to the press at the time.

The rest of this post is basically just regurgitating the little scraps of evidence I was able to cull together from scouring Google for information, all of which is still pretty interesting and corroborates that last paragraph.
 

Anna Karina and Eddie Constantine in Godard’s Alphaville
 
Amos Poe was going to direct the movie. He was part of the NYC underground filmmaking scene in the 1970s, having directed, with Ivan Kral, The Blank Generation as well as a 1978 feature starring Debbie Harry called The Foreigner. Poe was also involved with Chris Stein’s legendary public-access show TV Party.

On the obsessive King Crimson fan site DGM Live there appears a puzzling entry in “Robert Fripp’s Diary” for the date January 8, 2000. It’s puzzling in that it’s ostensibly something that Fripp wrote but he lapses into a kind of Variety promotional-speak that includes a sarcastic, unflattering reference about Fripp himself. Wait, here, just read it:
 

Several Blockbuster videos are waiting for return. One of them is “Dead Weekend”, chosen as an accompaniment to brain-death & psyche-dribbling earlier this week. Several surprises accompanied its opening credits. Co-producer Amos Poe. Story by Amos Poe. Directed by Amos Poe. Co-starring (with Stephen Baldwin) David Rasche.

In 1978 Amos Poe was to direct the remake of Godard’s “Alphaville” starring Debbie Harry as Natasha von Braun, Anna Karina (?) in the original film. The detective Lemmy Caution was originally played by Eddie Constantine. For the remake, Debbie’s co-star was to be—yo! wait for this one—an English guitarist almost universally disliked by his former band-buddies. The film was never made, but the stills from his screen-test were fabbo to the max. One of them even appeared on the front page of Melody Maker in December 1978.

If that isn’t enough of Fripp’s NY history to bore you senseless, wait about.

David Rasche is a superb actor whose break came in a Broadway play “Shadowbox” around 1977/8. He played “Sledgehammer” in the cod tv-policier series, and showed up in various films such as “Cobra” (he dies quickly & unpleasantly) & “An Innocent Man” (with Tom Selleck) as the bent cop who frames Tom & sent down F. Murray Abram (?). David & I were both in a Transactional Analysis group in NYC during 1977. A very good man, and one who holds my respect.

With this card, six degrees can now carry me anywhere in the world at all.

 
If it really was written in 2000 by Fripp, then at a minimum we can say that he’s got a wicked sense of humor, no? Apparently he takes his reputation as being “almost universally disliked by his former band-buddies” at least somewhat in stride…..

[Update: A commenter on Facebook points out that DGM is the label Fripp and others founded in 1992, which certainly suggests that the diary entry is kosher.]

Fripp points out that a still from a screen test involving the two co-stars appeared on the cover of Melody Maker in 1978, and that’s perfectly true. The date was December 23, 1978, and the cover looked like this:
 

 
Victor Bockris’ book With William Burroughs: A Report from the Bunker contains the following story:
 

Debbie recalled that when she and Chris met Goddard [sic] to discuss remaking Alphaville he had pretended that he could not speak English and said through an interpreter, “Why do you want to do this movie? You’re crazy!”

 
So apparently Godard tried to persuade them not to make the movie. I’m guessing it wasn’t his influence that caused the movie not to be made.

In Lester Bangs’ 1980 book Blondie (yes, Bangs wrote a book all about Blondie) we fnd this tidbit: “When Debbie and Chris were on WPIX’s ‘Radio, Radio’ show in Manhattan (in Feb. 1980), a fan phoned in to ask, ‘Is Alphaville complete?’” Thus proving that more or less regular people were following the Alphaville story and wanted updates.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Baby-faced Robert Smith and the Cure’s first time in America, 1980


 
In Spring of 1980, just as Robert Smith was about to turn 21 years old, the Cure, supporting their sophomore release Seventeen Seconds (and new single “A Forest”) made their first trip to America. They played six dates, including three in NYC at the Hurrah’s nightclub, where Chris Stein and Debbie Harry turned up to meet them.

From the now quite pricey and rare 1988 Cure bio Ten Imaginary Years:

On 10 April, The Cure went to America for the first time.

Robert: “We’d obtained cult status out there but we only played New York, Philly, Washington and Boston. We played three nights - 15, 16 and 17th - at Hurrah in New York and it was packed.”

Simon: “It was done on a shoestring budget but it was lots of fun. Instead of having cans of beer backstage, we’d have shots of Southern Comfort!”

Robert: “It was like a holiday. Even at this point, everything we did, we didn’t think we’d be doing again so we used to go to bed at about five in the morning and get up again at eight just to go out and see New York.”

On his return, Robert told Record Mirror how America meant “being bombarded by people who all ask the same questions and all want to shake your hand . . . you just find yourself getting sucked into the whole rock ‘n’ roll trip which we’re trying so hard to get away from” while Sounds’ Phil Sutcliffe, who’d accompanied the band to New York. told, in an article “Somebody Get Me A Doctor,” how Robert had done his utmost to avoid having his picture taken with Debbie Harry.

Although these two videos from one of the nights at Hurrah’s were posted by the creators, Charles Libin & Paul Cameron, ASC, a few years back, they’ve had precious few plays. If only all shot from the audience videos of the punk/post-punk and new wave era were done this well.

“A Forest” was the set closer, while “Secrets” was the first encore, played next.
 

 
Continues after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Post-punk funk: Debbie Harry and James White & The Blacks cover Chic and James Brown, 1980


 
Okay, so it’s Monday… That’s bad enough already, but it’s also a Monday in January and much of the eastern part of the US of A is totally blanketed in snow and freezing cold, so maybe you had to brave the elements to get to work, or maybe it’s a winter wonderland “snow day” for you and you’re sitting at home. Either way, I can’t help but to think, no matter your circumstances right now, this very moment as you are reading this, that your life will be improved by these recently posted video clips of Blondie’s Debbie Harry guesting onstage with James White and the Blacks at the Hurrah’s nightclub in New York City in 1980.

First up, Debbie and James duet on a cover version of Chic’s “Good Times.” For the first few minutes of this, I wasn’t really feeling it, although admittedly I got so lost just looking at Debbie Harry’s face that I could have been listening to a jackhammer. Eventually the groove kicks in and then… I felt good. James White squeezes off an outrageously skronky sax solo here.
 

 
The James Brown cover after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
There’s awesome, and then there’s MUPPET BLONDIE awesome
01.19.2016
09:17 am

Topics:
Amusing
Music
Punk
Television

Tags:
Blondie
Debbie Harry
Muppets


 
Now that most of the cryassing about how “IT’S NOT WHAT I’M UUUUUUSED TOOOOOO FROM WHEN I WAS A KIIIIIIIIIIIID” has abated, it’s nice to see that the rebooted Muppets is being generally well received. Updating The Muppet Show from the variety show format to a hodgepodge of tropes from Larry Sanders, The Office and 30 Rock was a smart contemporizing move that gave the show ample satirical fodder, and shifting the setting from Vaudeville theatre—charming as all hell though that was!—to late-nite talk allowed the preservation of the rotating guest star format that mirrors the original show and keeps it lively. It’s not as holy-shit great as its ‘70s predecessor, it’s true, but it’s sharp, it’s funny, it’s exploring different themes, and it’s got time and room to grow.

And I hope to hell that sooner than later it has moments as holy-shit great as its predecessor’s Episode 509, from February of 1981, guest starring Blondie singer Debbie Harry. It was an amazing episode for numerous reasons—Debbie Harry’s intrinsic awesomeness being one of them, naturally. But I find it interesting that The Muppet Show’s representation of punk took the form’s aesthetic merit as a given, keeping clichéd rainbow hair and safety-pin jokes to a minimum. It might be hard to explain how completely radical that was at the time. Punk representation in media was typically dumb and cartoonish, depicting musicians as simplistically violent oafs before 1980 (think WKRP’s insane 4th episode “Hoodlum Rock” in 1978), and after 1980, well, the preachy and unintentionally hilarious Quincy, M.E. punk episode’s depiction of hardcore kids so impossibly nihilistic they’re utterly indifferent to the death (by slam pit ice pick!) of one of their own friends pretty well sums it up. That kind of crap was FAR more typical than forthrightly showing punks as artists pursuing a music.
 

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Of course, by 1981, Blondie had become one of punk’s most mainstream expressions—it’s not like the family-hour Muppet Show was going to have Killing Joke on or anything—but that does nothing to diminish the wonderful segment showing Harry helping the young members of a scout troop get their punk merit badges by teaching them to pogo. The entire episode is on the Best Of The Muppet Show Vol. 9 (there’s no season 5 complete collection yet, for some reason), or you can watch it at this link.

And surprise surprise, where the episode really shines in is the musical numbers. Harry’s duet with Kermit the Frog on “Rainbow Connection” has been enduringly popular, but the episode’s two Blondie songs are pretty wonderful, too. “One Way or Another,” by then almost a three-year-old tune, had Harry backed up by a Muppet band that, rather than exemplifying the kind of goofy tropes that normals would recognize as “punk,” look credibly like an actual downtown NYC band of the era. I’m guessing they were modeled after Tuff Darts, but I could be wrong.
 

 
The episode ended with a Muppetization of Blondie’s year-old single “Call Me,” the theme song from a movie about a male prostitute framed for murdering a client whose husband hired him to “entertain” her. That may seem odd for family-hour until you consider that Blondie’s current single at the time was “Rapture,” a six-plus minute, half-cooed, half-rapped song that might contain a barely concealed reference to finger fucking (available printed lyrics read “finger popping” but we weren’t idiots) and definitely contains the line “he shoots you dead and he eats your head.” Which would have TOTALLY RULED performed by Muppets, but he upbeat “Call Me” was clearly the safer choice.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Christmas is saved by this Blondie ‘X-mas Offender’ sweatshirt

Debbie Harry/Blondie
Blondie “X-mas Offender” Christmas sweatshirt
 
How this amazing piece of Christmas adornment slipped past my radar until now is beyond me but, here it is—an officially licensed Blondie “X-mas Offender” sweatshirt. Squeee! Christmas is saved!

The sweatshirt takes its name from the first single that Blondie ever released in 1976, “X-Offender.” Originally the song was dubbed “Sex Offender” by Blondie bassist, Gary Valentine who co-wrote the song with Debbie Harry. The band’s label at the time, Private Stock put Blondie on blast and made them change the name to “X-Offender.” Usually when suit-types tell the cool kids what to do, it really gets under my skin. But in this case I’m completely okay with it as we now has this super cool sweatshirt to wear that won’t cause people to call the cops on you while you’re out picking up extra Eggnog at midnight at 7-11.

The sweatshirt retails for $25.99 and while it appears that even expedited shipping methods won’t get it to you (if you’re in the U.S.) in time for Christmas, I’m sure quite a few of you will still be picking one up anyway. I know I will.  Get it here.
 

The ageless Debbie Harry performing John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s ““Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” with the Middlechurch East Village Gospel Choir, 2008.

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Debbie Harry’s dress, Kim Gordon painting and other NYC punk artifacts in the Mudd Club rummage sale


 
Though it only existed for five years, from 1978 to 1983, NYC’s Mudd Club served as one of New York—and American—underground culture’s most crucial incubators. Talking Heads and Blondie were fixtures there, and artists that emerged from the scene it galvanized included Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Madonna, the B-52s, Kathy Acker… you get the point. It was the gnarly, buoyantly creative flip-side of Studio 54’s disco-glamour coin, a lightning-in-a-bottle moment that can’t be recreated.
 

 
This week, Mudd Club co-founder Steve Mass has contrived a Mudd Club rummage sale to benefit the Bowery Mission, a long surviving homeless shelter/food kitchen that remains in NYC’s onetime Skid Row, now, like basically all of Lower Manhattan, a playground for the privileged. The event will be held on Thursday, November 19th, 2015 at Django at the Roxy Hotel. Admission ain’t cheap. It’s $200 a head to get in, but again, the money goes to a homeless mission. What that gets you is a chance to buy a Vivienne Westwood dress donated by Debbie Harry, an original painting donated by Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon, and other items donated by Sting, Maripol, Patti Smith, and other members of the Downtown demimonde.

Via Bedford and Bowery:

Mass assures us that, rather than being a Sotheby’s-style auction, the rummage sale will be “like we had it in the old days,” with $50 dollar trinkets casually laid out next to more expensive items. “If Marc Jacobs donates a dress from that period and it’s $4,000 or $5,000, it might be next to a pair of shoes of someone who lost them in the Mudd Club in 1980.”

That pastiche, Mass said, was true to the club’s sensibility. “We were merging all these disciplines, which hadn’t been done before in a club,” said Mass, citing the presence of filmmakers like Kathryn Bigelow, writers like Candace Bushnell and Jay McInerney, photographers like Cindy Sherman and Nan Goldin (both of whom are hosts), and fashion designers like Anna Sui (another host) and Marc Jacobs, both of whom had early shows there.

The event will be open-bar, and will feature performances by the B-52s Kate Pierson and the Patti Smith Group’s Lenny Kaye, plus DJs and more to be announced.

Here’s some BADASS footage of the Cramps at the Mudd Club in 1981, from the contemporary NYC access cable program “Paul Tschinkel’s Inner-Tube.”
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Rare photos of Debbie Harry as a child and a teenager
09.09.2015
01:38 pm

Topics:
Music
Pop Culture
Punk

Tags:
Debbie Harry


 
Let me preface this by saying that when I say “rare” I mean “not widely-seen” images of Debbie Harry. Let’s face it, if it’s already on the Internet… it ain’t rare.

Admittedly, I secretly love looking at those “before they were famous” photos of rockstars and movie stars because they’re always so damned awkward! I find comfort in knowing “Hey, they were once just like one of us!”

However, this is not the case for Blondie frontwoman Debbie Harry. Apparently, she was always perfect.


A young Debbie Harry reading a book, early 1950s
 

Debbie at the beach
 

Debbie looks to be around in the 10th grade here
 

Debbie in a marching band or cheerleading outfit
 

 

Debbie Harry’s senior photo from the Hawthorne High School yearbook, 1963

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Cover versions: Debbie Harry stars in pulp romance novels based on Blondie songs
07.29.2015
10:08 am

Topics:
Art
Music
Punk

Tags:
Blondie
Debbie Harry

Debbie Harry faux pulp novel
“Rip Her to Shreds” faux pulp romance novel cover. Title taken from a song found on Blondie’s eponymous 1976 debut album

These clever faux pulp romance novels featuring Debbie Harry by Atlanta-based pop artist, Zteven are pretty much the best things I’ve seen this week. And I see a lot of cool stuff on a daily basis.

Not only did Zteven manage to portray Harry as one of the coolest salacious sirens to ever grace the cover of a smutty, old school pulp romance novel, he also incorporated the lyrics of songs from Blondie’s catalog in the titles and descriptions. There are even a few sly nods to Blondie co-founder and guitarist Chris Stein, as well as songwriter and producer Mike Chapman who worked with the group on their breakthrough 1978 record, Parallel Lines as well as Eat to the Beat (1979), Autoamerican (1980) and The Hunter (1982). The set of four prints, framed, will run you $40.
 
One Way or Another faux pulp novel with Debbie Harry
“One Way or Another” faux pulp romance novel cover. Title taken from a song that appears on 1978’s Parallel Lines
 
More Blondie cover versions after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Blondie burning down the house live on German TV, 1978
06.12.2015
10:18 am

Topics:
Music
Television

Tags:
Blondie
Debbie Harry
Chris Stein

002blonddfgujhbniu090902.jpg
 
The first time I saw Blondie was on an episode of chart music show Top of the Pops sometime in February 1977, when they performed “Denis”—a cover of the old Randy & the Rainbows’ number “Denise.” The promo footage caught fire from its opening shot of a beautifully backlit Debbie Harry flicking her golden candy floss hair, dancing in oversized jacket and red striped swimsuit. Chris Stein wore a black shirt and what looked like a leather tie, and the rest of the band seemed confidently cool playing in the background. It was one of those epiphanic moments that hold fast in the memory, like seeing Alice Cooper sword fence a camera during a performance of “School’s Out,” or David Bowie put his arm around Mick Ronson during “Starman,” or the Sex Pistols blankly performing “Pretty Vacant” (“no shocks shock” ran a headline in the NME.)

TOTP was the main outlet for most British teenagers during the 1970s to watch bands they liked or discover someone new—most youth music shows didn’t really kick off until later in the decade. Much of TOTP‘s 30-minute running time was clogged with middle of the road bands, novelty acts and the kind of songs your granny liked to hum—like ones sung by Johnny Mathis or Brian and Michael, the latter duo unbelievably kept Blondie’s “Denis” off the UK top spot.
 
001debhxrityfghvbh001.jpg
 
Unlike a number of bands at the time who were either dreary and lumpen or overly earnest, Blondie made music that was enjoyable, clever, infectiously upbeat and un-fucking-believably exciting. Here’s Blondie setting fire to the studio and burning down the house. Record date: Sometime in 1977. Transmission date January 19th 1978. And that, ahem, is a loooong time ago…. which just goes to show how very, very good Blondie were live and the utter brilliance and durability of their songs.

Track Listing.


01. “X-Offender”
02. “Little Girl Lies”
03. “Look Good in Blue”
04. “Man Overboard”
06. “In the Flesh”
06.  “I’m on E”
07. “Love at the Pier”
08. “I Didn’t have the Nerve”
09. “Bermuda Triangle Blues (Flight 45)’
10. “ Kidnapper”
11. “Youth Nabbed As Sniper”
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Blondie bombshell Debbie Harry’s awkwardly awesome late-night disco-diatribe against nuclear power
04.29.2015
08:16 am

Topics:
Activism
Music

Tags:
Blondie
Debbie Harry
no nukes


Debbie Harry, fronting Blondie, on The Midnight Special—October 5, 1979
 
Noted for its live, rather than lip-synced, performances, The Midnight Special was a late-night musical variety show, airing on NBC between 1973-1981. The show tended to feature up-and-coming acts, and an appearance on The Midnight Special was generally a sign that a band had finally “made it.” With only three major television networks at the time, even at its late hour, an appearance on The Midnight Special guaranteed a large, hip, young audience. For those born later than the 1970s, it must be understood that The Midnight Special was a very big deal. To fuck with the conventions of The Midnight Special was a very, very big deal.

On October 5, 1979, Blondie made their second appearance on The Midnight Special. They had appeared earlier in January of that same year performing live versions of “One Way or Another,”  “Hanging on the Telephone,”  and “Sunday Girl.” On their October 5th appearance, the band performed “Dreaming,”  “Slow Motion,”  “The Hardest Part,”  “Accidents Never Happen,”  and “Heart of Glass.”
 

Debbie Harry and drummer Clem Burke on the Midnight Special stage.
 
For their second Midnight Special appearance, Blondie lead singer, Debbie Harry, draped in a simultaneously stunning and ridiculous (backwards?) blue romper, exudes a mesmerizing, other-worldly, “don’t give a shit” sex appeal. Her demeanor is confidently aloof, yet at times straight-up dorky, but what she does at 2:20 into “Heart of Glass” is one of the most awkwardly cool things that ever happened on network television. It’s as bizarre as it is on point. The band goes into the instrumental break of the song, and Debbie launches into a brief diatribe on nuclear power:

The use of nuclear power is merely a symptom of our troubled times. It is time for all Americans to take control of their own lives and stop being pushed around and poisoned. The race for nuclear superiority can only end with the destruction of civilization.

...And then she goes straight back into the ditty. She gives a split second look right after, that seems to indicate “I just did something really cool on this dumb TV stage.” The audience eats it up, and you can audibly hear their reaction over the music. This was the same year as the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, so her rant is especially timely.

Geez, Debbie, as if we needed one more reason to love you.

Here’s the entire song; the “nuclear power” riff is at 2:20:
 

 

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
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