There’s a certain un-assuming barn just outside Woodstock, New York. It’s easy to picture; the deep mythology of pop music history assures that much. For nearly two decades, the bulk of Blondie’s audio and visual archive sat inside.
One hundred reel-to-reel tapes, half a dozen cassettes, a few storage tubs crammed with records, bits of promotional flotsam, flyers, a stray Warhol print, and mirrored dressing room signage from four sold-out January 1980 nights at London’s Hammersmith Odeon. All of it lay silent through twenty humid summers, twenty frigid winters, and 20,000 rodents.
There were knives collected in Asia and sex worker advertisements pilfered from the UK’s red telephone boxes of the late 1970s. In a corner, a dust-caked RIAA-certified gold record for Eat To The Beat reclined against a wall, its protective glass scarred by a bullet hole.“Iggy and I were shooting guns at a wall in my basement one night,” guitarist Chris Stein told us. “This was a casualty.”
From this chaotic hoard of ephemera, this long-gestating project was born.
Over the years, Blondie’s many partner record companies have done an exemplary job archiving the band’s recorded legacy, given the miles it’s logged and the oceans it’s had to cross. From Larry Uttal’s Private Stock Records to Terry Ellis and Chris Wright’s Chrysalis, which was absorbed by Capitol and then Universal, the band’s reels have been moved, transferred, baked, re-boxed, remixed, and barcoded more than a few times. We pored over every foot of magnetic tape and, thanks to our brand new 24-bit, 192KHz transfers, have expanded the dynamic range of Blondie’s six LPs.
We’ve scoured the earth for era-appropriate photos, pic sleeves, lyrics sheets, fan club newsletters, postcards, jukebox strips, and even eight-track tapes. There will always be more to find. Whether it’s a mislabeled cassette tape squirrelled away in a New Jersey garage, a previously unknown Thai 45 variant, or a roll of film excavated at the Long Beach flea market, slivers of Blondie will continue to poke into our collective unconscious until there ceases to be any consciousness to poke.
What the seven members of Blondie set to tape over those first eight years remains among the most timeless music of its era, or any era. This is not hyperbole. Walk into a grocery store and Rapture fills the air. Spend an hour with any classic rock, ’80s throwback, LITE FM easy listening, or rockin’ oldies station and you will rediscover Heart of Glass.
Watch any given documentary on the birth of punk or hip hop, read any “Best Albums of All Time” list, and the stark three-color imagery of Parallel Lines will undoubtedly flash by. Visit any sports arena in the world and count the moments before you hear Call Me.
Blondie has transcended the realms of mere bands, evolving out of pop and punk to become a vital strand of American music’s core DNA.
Let this box set serve as a map of the genome.