“Eat To The Beat” by Blondie - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1979Album Chart of the Decade: 1970s

TJR says

For the second album in a row Blondie present as a sextet: Deborah Harry (vocals), Chris Stein (guitar), Frank Infante (guitar, backing vocals), Nigel Harrison (bass), Jimmy Destri (keyboards, backing vocals) and Clem Burke (drums). “Seventh member” Mike Chapman retains his role as perfectionist pushy producer. In the 2001 re-issue liner notes he showed some insight: “They wanted to try anything. And I was right there with them. We also had a title for the album at a very early point, so we had a concept of sorts: Eat to the Beat. I tried to have Debbie explain exactly what it meant to her, but in her normal fashion she simply confused me and I was forced to give it my own interpretation. … [Drugs] found their way to the studio and presented us with yet another obstacle. The more drugs, the more fights. It was becoming a real mess. … The music was good but the group was showing signs of wear and tear. The meetings, the drugs, the partying and the arguments had beaten us all up, and it was hard to have a positive attitude when the project was finally finished. … Was this the record that the public was waiting for, or was it just the waste of seven sick minds? I had never experienced this kind of emotional rollercoaster before, and I have never forgotten the sounds, smells and tastes that came with it. I guess that was what they meant: Eat to the Beat.

Killer single “Dreaming” kicks-off the set anthemically and memorably, an absolute pop rush with the alluring reminder to the world that “dreaming is free”. And what about Clem on the drums? Ooft! Alas, the comedown is immediate as we're served “The Hardest Part”, built on American rock foundations, even coming complete with guitar solos. This was released as the album's second single in their homeland, which is telling. What a turn off. As immediate as the downturn was negative, the bounce back is positive on yet another classic single, “Union City Blue”, as the singer sets out to win her Union City man: “power, passion plays a double hand”. How could he say no? A recurring feature of the album is the potpourri of styles on offer, the hummable “Shayla” almost flirting with country rock before the title-track flirts with rock n roll, rhythm n blues, pop and punk all in a heady oner, which doesn't work so well for me, coming off cheap.

The stylistic adventure continues on side two with the superb “Die Young, Stay Pretty”, world class Reggatta de Blanc up there with The Police. Debbie's growling vocal performance is awesome; cathartic most likely. Would have made a great single I think, although it saw 45 action as the flipside to the excellent “Atomic”, which soon follows on side two, keeping the bonkers mix-up going with a hard n fast new wave disco energy. Just when you think there can be no more crazy surprises on this LP, the theatrical prog madness of “Victor” slaps you on the chops and pours a bucket of ice over your unsuspecting person. These people might well be insane. For sure, they keep you on your toes in '79.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [03:08] 9.3.png Blondie - Dreaming (Deborah Harry, Chris Stein) New Wave
A2 [03:42] 4.6.png Blondie - The Hardest Part (Deborah Harry, Chris Stein) New Wave
A3 [03:21] 9.2.png Blondie - Union City Blue (Deborah Harry, Nigel Harrison) New Wave
A4 [03:57] 5.8.png Blondie - Shayla (Chris Stein) New Wave
A5 [02:40] 4.0.png Blondie - Eat To The Beat (Deborah Harry, Nigel Harrison) New Wave
A6 [04:15] 4.8.png Blondie - Accidents Never Happen (Jimmy Destri) New Wave
B1 [03:34] 9.2.png Blondie - Die Young, Stay Pretty (Deborah Harry, Chris Stein) Reggae
B2 [03:28] 5.6.png Blondie - Slow Motion (Jimmy Destri, Laura Davis) Pop
B3 [04:40] 8.6.png Blondie - Atomic (Deborah Harry, Jimmy Destri) New Wave
B4 [04:18] 6.4.png Blondie - Sound-A-Sleep (Deborah Harry, Chris Stein) New Wave
B5 [03:19] 7.3.png Blondie - Victor (Deborah Harry, Frank Infante) Prog
B6 [02:53] 5.0.png Blondie - Living In The Real World (Jimmy Destri) New Wave

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