I think I’m slowly getting the hang of this Internet thing. It seems to have all the information you could ever want (and a lot more besides) but to find what you’re looking for you have to know where to look. I’ve searched for Blondie’s eighth album, The Curse of Blondie, on streaming sites in the past and drawn a blank but my more advanced search technique has finally come up trumps. Here it is on YouTube.
Well, actually, this compilation has the right tracks, in the right order, but track 2, Good Boys, is blocked in the UK and track 8 is a live version of End to End. Why most of Blondie’s recordings are available on Spotify (and elsewhere, I assume) but not this particular album is a mystery to me. I guess it’s cursed.
Let’s see if we can lift the spell.
The Curse of Blondie got mixed reviews when it came out in 2003 and on first listen that’s understandable. There are two tracks on The Curse that would work really well on any of Blondie‘s early albums; they are: Good Boys (the only single), and End To End, which has already featured on the Crotchety Man blog. Some of the other songs are also in the typical Blondie pop/rock style (Undone, Golden Rod, for example) and those, too, are likely to go down well with Blondie album collectors. Then there are several tracks that explore rather different territory: rap-style vocals in Shakedown, a reggae Background Melody, the electronica/dance tracks Hello Joe and The Tingler. Although Blondie had used these styles before some of their fans didn’t appreciate it.
And then The Curse has some real surprises. Songs of Love is a romantic ballad embellished with some saxophone licks. Magic (Asadoya Yunta) is a traditional Japanese folk song. And most unsettling of all, Desire Brings Me Back mainly consists of honking saxophones over thudding tribal drums. None of those is exactly guaranteed to appeal to the average pop/rock enthusiast and even dyed-in-the-wool Blondie devotees might struggle with them.
The Curse is an album on which the band deliberately ventures off the charts, to places where mythical creatures live and the maps say only, “here be dragons”. But baby dragons are such cute animals and, trained right, they can make wonderful pets. You just need to get to know them.
So, lets spin the album again.
It’s true that Shakedown has rap-style vocals but the basic track has all the hallmarks of classic Blondie singles. It may not be a top ten song but it’s eminently listenable and I’m sure it would go down well in the clubs. The reggae beat of Background Melody actually lifts the song from mediocre to pretty good; well worth its place on the album. Even the two tracks I labelled electronica/dance sound more like classic Blondie tracks given a DJ mix than something spawned in the dark shadows of gangland America.
The Curse is a Blondie album with rather more variety than fans and critics were used to and Crotchety Man applauds them for that. There is one dud track – the honking saxes on Desire Brings Me Back are just an awful noise – but everything else works extremely well. Of course, the album doesn’t have as many chart hits as Parallel Lines or Eat To The Beat but it’s a very worthy addition to the Blondie canon which seems to have been forgotten by record stores and streaming sites. Or does the Crotchety Man’s online search technique still need to be improved?