You got questions? This collection’s got answers. Why were Blondie the only hitmakers to come from the original CBGB punk scene? Were they a mere catchy-tune factory with hip aspirations, or something more? Greatest Hits shows that, first, Blondie delivered a cool rush of pleasure that other Seventies underground types couldn’t match. The group’s favorite oldies included not only the Velvet Underground but also Abba and Randy and the Rainbows. If nowadays Debbie Harry lies obscured behind an avalanche of golden heads from Madonna to Britney, back in 1979 she alone made it mod to whisper “Come hither” when everybody else in her circle was screaming “Get back” or “Go crazy.”
Blondie were a manifestation of the love story of Debbie Harry and guitarist-songwriter Chris Stein — a superbly romantic art project, aided and abetted by their urbane garage-band mates. Stein and the boys dug up and refurbished the thrift-store riffs and mood melodies as raiment for Harry, who boosted her light, sweet voice with whatever B-movie-heroine inflections were needed — noir, sci-fi, horror, sexploitation.
Greatest Hits includes songs from every one of Blondie’s original run of albums from 1977 to 1982 and adds “Maria” from their recent re-formation. By not packing one sharp shock after another, as older anthologies did, this sequence allows time to catch the interplay of wits and winks. Dropping into the wild-style hip-hop dream of “Rapture” was no more of a stretch than the tropical fantasy of “Island of Lost Souls” or the kink heartbreak of “X Offender.” Blondie’s tacky organ, disco synthesizers, space guitars and ageless It girl perform a spoof on rock ‘n’ dance classics that became classic itself.