Rock Around The World / April 1978   19

up a kind of mental communication between ourselves and the audience. While it's important to get the song's message across, it's even more important that the line of concentration between us and the audience isn't broken."

Blondie's first outside New York dates followed on the heels of the LP's release and stoked the furor over a band that was daring to be different. Debbie's stage presence (alternating between a spaced-out Garbo and a raging rock siren) was the perfect foil to the playing of Clement Burke, James Destri and Chris Stein. Tours with Bowie and Iggy gave Blondie that much needed big crowd exposure while a couple of trips across the Atlantic

resulted in their first hit single ("In The Flesh" went numero uno in Australia).

The ensuing months saw Blondie do a step back and regroup of sorts. For openers they took a powder from Private Stock and signed with Chrysalis. Once again wearing a record company security blanket, Blondie returned to the studios to record Plastic Letters, an album that would, hopefully push Blondie on thn'   -

we top forty side.

rosttc Letters was unleashed on an anxious public in February. And, after repeated listenings, your most obedient boogie scribe has come up with the following verdict:

(1) Plastic Letters is a sure bet to be

in the running for best album of 1978 and (2) There isn't a snowball's chance in hell of most of these songs becoming a commercial hit.

While this appraisal may seem a contradiction, it is a contradiction for the better, because Blondie, despite the economic necessity for a commercial hit, have come up with a totally engaging LP without resorting to compromise of any kind. Plastic Letters is such a creative adventure that to skip over pomp., --

_   Vile cut'

ue a most heinous exclusion. So here for your edification is Plastic Letters cut by cut.

Fan Mail: This song kicks off side one as a prime example of rock as a vehicle for the genuine imitation life. Debbie's slightly remorseful vocals throw a monkey wrench of doubt into the superstar machinery

while the band plays what can best be described as a pop/rock dirge. Lyrically, this one's a biting delight.

Denis: This cover of the golden gasser is the closest thing to a commercial A-side on the album and for a group whose creative attitude is slightly out of left field, their version is pretty much by the numbers. Look for this to be a single but not until the album's already gone gold:

Bermuda Triangle Blues (Flight 45): This ode to death by supernatural misadventure has the band hitting the high points as Debbie's rather straightforward vocal delivery sets the stage for some appropriately haunting instrumentals. Highlighted are two outstanding keyboard moments as James Destri's apocalyptic hooks strike straight at the emotional heart of this song.

Youth Nabbed As Sniper: Some conventional rock lines propel this tale of derangement through some subtle plot twists that showcase the band's word prowess. Blondie's often tongue in cheek treatment of serious subjects is evident here as Debbie's vocals do a psychological shrink job on the song's title character.

Contact in Red Square: Effectively drawn comic book pop that plays the excesses of the spy game to the entertaining hilt. Debbie's stance cog ; ^I`

hesitant Mart' "-

is a class underplaying.

(I'm always touched by your) Presence Dear: The closest this album comes to a romantic ballad shows the band capable of handling songs of a more traditional mold. Don't let this get around but Debbie could probably pass for Olivia Newton-John in a pinch. A nice counter to the rest of the madness.

I'm On E: A speeded up, slightly out of

whack version of "Crocodile Rock" that bounces a long at an inoffensive but movable pace. Good clean fun that won't tax your already overworked brain cells.

I Didn't Have The Nerve To Say No: Excedrin headache number S. The teen crisis done up to a rock and rolling farethee-well. Enthusiastic vocals and a

common sense balance of rock dynamics. it's songs like this that would have made the onset of puberty a bit easier to take.

Love At The Pier: Great pop torn straight from the pages of True Confessions as the prospects of a close encounter in the sand evolves into a highly melodramatic tour de force. We never find out if she does or not but, in this song, getting there is more than enough compensation.

No Imagination: Love on a cerebellum level allows for a bit of the old verbal flexing. Some calculating alliteration goes hand in hand with some thudding guitar chords in a racy outing, most of which you probably missed if you blinked. Good for repeated listenings.

Kidnapper has Blondie showing some goodtime roots in a honky tonk vien and proves an unusual segue into the straiehtahead dramatic metal of Detroit 442. Both show extreme influencPc

Blondie's a

_   with the chops to handle

them.

And finally Cautious Lip: An unintentional aside to Patti Smith that has Debbie milking a bizzarre pairing of blues and pop for everything emotionally possible.

Superlatives get old after a while and the time honored cliches just don't do Plastic Letters justice. Suffice it to say that Blondie's Plastic Letters are intellectual night moves.

Blondie Photos 1,2 & 3 by Donna Santisi, 4 by Bob Gruen

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