Thursday, June 22, 2017

Blondie Unseen 1976-1980, by Roberta Bayley

Heart of Glass: Debbie Harry

Blondie holds a special place in rock music history, but also in my life. I've been under their sonic spell for as long as I can remember. Musically, Blondie blend elements of several different styles—new wave, punk, girl group, disco, reggae, rap, pop—into a sound truly their own. They were also one of the first visually memorable bands in my life—thanks in large part to lead singer and cultural icon Debbie Harry's amazing cheekbones and avant-garde style. They're unlike any other band before or since.

Harry enthusiastically embraces and playfully subverts the blonde bombshell archetype at every turn. Just listen to her subtle shifts in phrasing and delivery on songs like "Call Me", "One Way or Another", or "Hangin' on the Telephone." She smoothly segues from a sweet purr to a frisky growl in a heartbeat. Harry also understands the importance of visuals in rock music, and few performers have ever been more aesthetically stylish or cutting edge. She is, without question, one of the most captivating lead singers in all of music. She's a photographer's dream. With Blondie Unseen: 1976-1980, photographer Roberta Bayley manages to capture Debbie's and the band's magic on the page. Backstage or on stage, on tour or just hanging around the seedy '70s NYC streets, Blondie never fail to mesmerize.

Bayley's photos serve as beautifully evocative time capsules of Blondie's trajectory from underground darlings to mainstream superstars. These are the years that forged the band's reputation moving forward, and Bayley was there, documenting it all, one photo at a time. For fans of Blondie or the '70s NYC punk scene, the book is invaluable. It certainly holds a treasured spot on my shelves and in my heart.

Rapture: Debbie, on stage.

Fade Away and Radiate: Debbie, backstage.

Union City Blue: Debbie, David Johansen, Joey Ramone.

Atomic: Debbie and Joey.

One Way or Another: Blondie in 1970s NYC.

Dreaming: Debbie, zonked out after another energetic performance.

I'm Gonna Love You Too: Debbie and Chris Stein.

Picture This: Debbie and Roberta Bayley.

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