Sunday, October 26, 2014
Blondie - Eat To The Beat
This month marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of Eat To The Beat, the fourth studio album from Blondie. This 1979 release spent fifty-one weeks on the US Billboard Album chart, peaking at number 17. Around the world, it reached number 23 in Germany, number 19 in Austria, number 16 in the Netherlands, number 9 in Australia, number 6 in Canada and Norway, number 2 in Sweden, and number 1 in the UK.
Side one begins with “Dreaming”. As the debut single, it reached number 53 in Australia, number 33 in France, number 27 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 26 in Germany, number 19 in Sweden, number 18 in Austria, number 16 in Belgium, number 12 in the Netherlands, number 9 in New Zealand, number 6 in Norway, number 4 in Canada, number 3 in Ireland, and number 2 in the UK. The song’s foundation is a steady, cascading drumbeat. The lyrics walk the line between real life and fantasy.
The second single in North America was “The Hardest Part”; it went to number 86 in Canada and number 84 on the US Billboard Hot 100. This thundering rocker tells the tale of a high-stakes heist with an opportunity for a huge financial score.
The second single in the rest of the world was “Union City Blue”; it went to number 54 in Germany, number 47 in New Zealand, number 17 in Ireland and number 13 in the UK. This one harkens to the band’s earlier style that fused 60’s sounding melodies with a tougher 70’s grit.
Debbie Harry’s vocals flow sweetly on “Shayla”, the story of a factory worker leaves town to escape the boring lifestyle.
“Eat to the Beat” comes straight out of the band’s punk roots from the days of performing at New York’s CBGB club –fast, furious and in your face. Randy Singer provides the harmonica on the track.
The side closes with the mid-tempo new-wave “Accidents Never Happen”. Lorna Luft, the singer and actress daughter of Judy Garland and sister to Liza Minnelli, provides background vocals on the track.
Side two opens with “Die Young Stay Pretty”, the B-side to the third single. The band experiments again with a reggae sound with this one.
Next up is “Slow Motion”, the first miss-fire (for me) on the record so far. While not a bad track, it simply does not leave me with anything memorable after the final notes.
The next track, however, more than makes up for it. “Atomic”, the third single, went to number 57 in Canada, number 39 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 20 in Germany, number 17 in the Netherlands, number 12 in Australia, number 7 in New Zealand, number 6 in France, number 5 in Austria and Norway, number 3 in Ireland, and number 1 in the UK. This one combines a thumping disco dance beat with Harry’s soaring, angelic vocals. In 1994, a remixed version by P. Diddy charted again at number 19 in the UK and number 1 on the US Billboard Dance charts.
“Sound-A-Sleep” was the B-side to the first single internationally and the second single in North America. This lullaby has an early 60’s vibe to it musically.
“Victor” is a wailing rocker with chanting background vocals. Harry screams for her lover to not go. The guitars on this one a filled with angst and urgency.
“Living in the Real World”, the closing track, was the B-side to the first single in the US and the second single internationally. This one has a flippant attitude, project Harry as a celebrity that no longer had to care about the mundane world. Life imitating art? Perhaps.
Of course, I was familiar with the hit singles from Eat To The Beat thanks to the pop and rock radio I listened to back in 1979 and 1980. I picked up the rest of the record digitally about three years when I was on a big Blonde binge. I think the album serves well as a transition record between the group’s earlier roots and the huge crossover act that they would become in the early 80’s.
For more from Blondie, click here.