Sunday, 9 March 2014

7 Inch Singles Collection: Blondie - Union City Blue

Some perfect pop:


A-side: Union City Blue
B-Side: Living In The Real World
(Chrysalis 1979)

I'll admit here and now that I'm going to be biased on this one, as I do love a bit of Blondie, a band that married a myriad different styles together, and then chuck them out a brilliant shiny nuggets of pop for everyone to enjoy.

This record comes from the phase in their career when they were more or less the most popular band in the universe. They'd built up to it for a few years then managed to scale the heights with the album Parallel Lines (and attendant singles), and now were consolidating that position. Blondie were almost the perfect singles band - all their best songs were chucked out on 7 inch, they really knew how to distill a song into the 3-minute pop format.

Union City Blue is probably the most epic sounding song Blondie ever committed to vinyl. The song rolls along on a great sweeping melody. It builds up and soars then stops, crashes down and then soars again. Utterly majestic. I have a clear recollection of watching the video for this song and a Saturday morning kids show - (can't remember if it was Tiswas or Swap Shop, so sorry to all you fans of banal trivia) - it was mesmerizing and transfixing. The band stood amongst the containers in the dockyard, the vastness of the containers matching the vastness of the song, and the sweeping shots of the band echoing the sweep of the record. Practically perfect.

The flip side is Living In The Real World. Soundwise their roots are showing more here than on Union City Blue. It's a harder sound, much closer to their early punkier incarnation. It's fast and bouncy, but with a catch in the lyric about not living in the real world - which may be a nod to the lives that the band were living at that time - which eventually did lead to the implosion of the band of few years later. The guitar break in the song is fun and still has that punk feeling - almost as if to say we're not selling out, just getting better. If someone asked you to imagine the typical sound of Blondie then you'd probably end up imagining something very much like Living In The Real World.

Next time some apples...

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