Record Reviews: Pop
Sunday 21 February 1999
Blondie: No Exit (RCA). The Beatles' comeback single only got to No 2. A fortnight ago, "Maria" went straight to No 1, which makes Debs and co's get-together officially the most worthwhile rock'n'roll reunion ever. Blondie have still got it. But before you rush out and buy No Exit, it's worth remembering what it was that they had in the first place. Their LPs had their share of sleek, sharp, pure pop - represented here by "Maria" and "Nothing Is Real But the Girl", both written by keyboardist Jimmy Destri - but they were also repositories for the band's more eccentric, eclectic whims. No Exit is true to this tradition. "Screaming Skin" is robotic ska, with Harry hamming up the vocals shamelessly. The title track is a terrifying experiment in gothic rap opera. "The Dream's Lost on Me" is a hillbilly waltz and "Boom Boom in the Zoom Zoom Room" is a dash of swishy nightclub jazz. You've got to admire Blondie for returning to the fray in such a fearlessly contrary mood. Nor can you fault the undimmed power of the musicianship: Clem Burke's drumming, in particular, is awesomely muscular. In short, No Exit sounds like the next album Blondie would have made if they hadn't split up when they did. The bad news is that such an album would have come out in the mid-Eighties, and No Exit's dated soft-rock production lets it down: the synthesisers are horrible and the guitars on "Happy Dog" could be the work of Dire Straits. If only the group had employed the producers of Elastica or the Cardigans. They've carried the Blondie blueprint into the Nineties without any trouble at all.
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
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Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food