on 26 April 2002
Since it's release this album has recieved a mixed reaction
and continues to divide fan opinion. Blondie however, have
never been content to merely be pop-punk hitmakers and
nothing else ("Attack Of The Giant Ants", "Victor" or "Cautious
Until 1999's "No Exit", "Autoamerican" was Blondie's most
diverse album. Right away the album takes a different
direction with Chris Stein's moody futuristic classical piece
"Europa". The rest of the album takes in show tunes ("Here's
Looking At You"), reggae ("The Tide Is High" originally by The
Paragons), jazz (Debbie's composition "Faces") and ends
with "Follow Me" from the musical "Camelot".
Deborah Harry and Chris Stein's "Rapture" was a pioneering
rap hit. Debbie's rapping is flawless, her harmonising verses
are seductive and the song ends with the coolest guitar
solo ever. Nigel Harrison's co-penned "T-Birds" is breezy and
Debbie gives an alternate take on history. I love guest
Wa Wa Watson's wah wah guitar on the soaring "Live It Up"
(which comes out even more in the extended disco mix, sadly
not included in this reissue).
Jimmy Destri scores as always with album tracks. "Angels On
The Balcony" is one of Blondie's finest album tracks, has a
great guitar solo in the middle and should have been a single.
"Walk Like Me" is a punky garage number about anti-conformity
and has a great marching bassline, twangy guitar and growly
vocals in that way that only Debbie can do properly.
It may not have the instant appeal of the first four albums
but after a few listens it can prove a rewarding experience
and really grow on you. Blondie managed to experiment
artistically and deliver some hit songs at the same time.
Long term fans of course will have spotted the lyrical link
between "Walk Like Me" and the 1999 hit single "Maria" (also
on 20 July 2011
Little Blondie had recorded on their first four albums could have prepared anyone for the experimental approach of 1980's `AutoAmerican'. Again working with Australian production maestro, Mike Chapman (Suzi Quatro, The Knack, `Parallel Lines', `Eat to the Beat'), the band went in directions that were extremely unusual for that era.
There are echoes of their past on this record in its dabbles in disco rhythms, reggae and very occasional rock. But as a whole, it abandons Blondie's earlier 60s mod girl group new wave affectations. `AutoAmerican' feels incredibly complex, concept-like, literate and ever so slightly pretentious - even though, when you break it down into individual songs, it actually isn't.
Science-fiction and symphonic film scores are behind guitarist Chris Stein's opening `Europa', which ends with a spoken verse from Deborah Harry about man's over-dependence on cars, which has led to their abandonment. The car motif is then very loosely picked up in lyrics on a few occasions throughout the album. Combined with the title and cover design credits, it is just enough to make it feel substantial. `Europa' is an arresting beginning.
There are lot of odd influences in other places, a number of them recalling eras like the 30s and 40s (`Live It Up', `Here's Looking at You' and Harry's extraordinary, soaring, self-penned theatrical jazz torch song, `Faces'), reggae (the cover of `The Tide Is High - to me, a slight low point), early hip hop combined with disco (the ethereal `Rapture') and even a cover from Broadway's `Camelot' (`Follow Me') to close proceedings, complete with waves breaking onto a shore. There is also some inspired, new-wavish rock (`Go Through It', `T-Birds', `Walk Like Me'), topped off with a `Rawhide'-style twang.
Somehow, though, all these disparate styles are bound together to deliver a record that sounds extremely cohesive and oddly, darkly urbane. There is a dreamlike quality to it at times. The musicianship is sublime, incorporating percussion and brass, and Harry's voice has rarely sounded better on record, taking her on all sorts of vocal journeys from lilting angelic high sequences to smokey jazz to rap and guttural rock.
`AutoAmerican' is nothing if not completely unique. Though not immediately accessible, it becomes just as infectious as previous efforts after a few spins and marked Blondie's third major creative high point in a row.
The 2001 remaster, unlike the others in the catalogue, actually contains worthy bonus tracks. The full 8-minute version of `Call Me' from the film `American Gigolo', the extended 1980 10-minute remix of `Rapture' and the b-side to `Rapture' - the interesting but inferior automobile-themed `Suzy and Jeffrey' - are all relevant and far more than mere marketing additions.
on 26 May 2004
If PARALLEL LINES is Blondie's greatest collection of songs - snappy, clever and direct, in ideal compliance with their standing as the perfect pop group - their 1980 AUTOAMERICAN is their greatest album, one that is dignified and complete, perfect in its total unity and harmony. Ironically it is at a time when Blondie were most alienated as a group that they sound most like a band, a contradiction evoked in the record's beautiful cover art.
On AUTOAMERICAN Blondie, in spirit at least, step outside New York and breathe in the vast scope and beauty of America. The record's opening sequence "Europa", a somewhat intellectual concept of the automobile voiced robotically by Harry, is the statement of intent, giving way to the perfect disco bass of "Live it Up", containing one of Blondie's great lines: "you know its so passé/to sleep without you every day". "Go Through It" cruises along an open highway with tender love and gutsy charm. "Do the Dark", tinged with North African allusion, is a shadowy and mysterious invitation to "do the Sidewalk Shuffle/do the Invisible Dance" and is one of Blondie's most intoxicating songs.
Admittedly "The Tide is High" becomes increasingly easy to skip over as the album's finest moments become even more alluring; The old time dance-hall number "Here's Looking at You" - lazy, smoky and poignant, voiced through a glass of bourbon while pining for Monroe; The immortal "Rapture", cooler now than it ever was, and a significant piece of pop culture in itself, pin-pointing the exact moment when the New York elite chose hip-hop over power pop. Evoking Basquait and Warhol as effortlessly as it does huge yellow taxi cabs and brownstone buildings; space mutants and b-movies; Coca Cola and Studio 54.
In fact there is not a song on AUTOAMERICAN that does not shimmer in the searing heat of a Manhattan summer, not least Jimmy Destri's sublime "Angels on the Balcony". Lucid, warm and effervescent, it is imbued with magic and a bittersweet nostalgia and is perhaps the most beautiful song Blondie ever recorded, where Harry's touching vocal is both as cool and as sweet as vanilla ice-cream.
"Walk Like Me" is Destri's call to arms, invoking the individual in a grid-locked, press frenzied America where everyone's merely a number - "change the way you comb your hair and watch what you walk under" states Harry over Clem's stabbing drum punches, before straining angrily "why don't you walk like me?". The record closes with Harry's lovely rendition of the Lerner & Lowe classic "Follow Me", as if one needs proof that Blondie, despite their modern sensibility, belong in all times, any time. Genius.
on 16 April 2011
This is actually a very fine record from Deb & Co, It's not as poppy and commercialised as Parralel Lines, not as proto-punk as Eat To The Beat in fact the whole album has strong undertones of jazz,50's records & of course rap and reggae.
My favourite tracks are Walk like Me, T-Birds, Do The Dark & the sublime Heres looking At You!!
That being said it works better when listened to all the way through, rather than when certain tracks are picked off individually.
on 29 June 2014
AUTOAMERICAN is the much maligned 5th Blondie album - I know there are a lot of people out there who think it ought to be subject to re-appraisal!
There are some Blondie-esque titles in here ANGELS ON THE BALCONY/GO THROUGH IT/T BIRDS AND WALK LIKE ME as well as the hits that you'll be more than familiar with. The rest of the album is experimental - I personally love EUROPA, a grandiose orchestral piece - but then we have FACES/HERE'S LOOKIN AT YOU - both rather tired jazz numbers - LIVE IT UP and DO THE DARK which are sort of interesting and FOLLOW ME - the Lerner and Low piece that well, just ISN'T!! If one listens intently to the close of this track - after the sea wave sounds fade - you can here Clem Burke say 'we're not really putting this on the album?' - or words to that effect. I give this four stars for the classic Blondie tracks and the innovative singles present. It is true that SUSIE AND JEFFREY - the B-Side of the THE TIDE IS HIGH is stronger than some of these album tracks..........but it's a 4 - because it IS A BLONDIE ALBUM!
Aesthetics: if PARALLEL LINES is the most perfect ALBUM SLEEVE ever produced - this has to be the runner up in the BLONDIE artwork dept
on 3 November 2013
Knew this album from the past, a change in direction from Blondie at the time, with slower
more orchestral songs and also some disco moments. Notably Rapture, this cd also includes a long version
not before released which is a bonus.
It is a grower, I like it, but I guess not for everybody.
on 21 August 2003
On it’s release in 1980, ‘Autoamerican’ was bashed mercilessly by fans and critics (and still is now) for being so diverse. To this day, it still divides the opinions of thousands of Blondie fans. Some say it was a failed attempt to try something new and that Blondie should stick to the tried- and-tested formula that had worked wonders on the previous albums- upbeat, intensely hummable punk-pop songs. Others say it’s Blondie’s most ambitious and artistic work ever and applaud them for having the courage to make such an eclectic LP.
Right from the start, ‘Autoamerican’ sees the band embracing a different genre altogether. ‘Europa’ is Chris Stein’s very moody, darkly atmospheric classical composition. To top that, there are disco songs, reggae songs (in the form of massive No. 1 cover, The Tide Is High), a jazz song or two, country-style pop. Another single was ‘Rapture’. Blondie were always fantastically good at crossing styles and breaking boundaries- ‘Rapture’ is the perfect example of this, combining white disco-rock with black hip-hop for a completely pioneering hit (a note- Blondie are credited with having the first commercial hit song to feature rap, which is quite something!). Definitely one of the most creative songs of the 80s.
However, the Blondie of old is not completely lost. The beautiful ‘Angels On The Balcony’ is pure power-pop, reminiscent of any of the previous albums. ‘Walk Like Me’ is a very punky number about anti-conformity (‘We don’t wear that uniform…tell that girl you like her badge/tell that man that you’re the Nazz) and one of my favourites. ‘T-Birds’ is another classic example, with a soaring guitar break.
Some really great bonus tracks are available here, including the incredible Electro-rock anthem and transatlantic No. 1, ‘Call Me’ in it’s original long version. ‘Suzy And Jeffrey’ (B-side to ‘The Tide Is High’) is a tragic tale of romance and what happens when you crash your girlfriend’s Audi into the side of a recording studio (and it’s true). Finally, ‘Rapture’ pops up again in an extended disco mix. Great to dance to, but at nearly 10 minutes long, it really drags.
All in all, ‘Autoamerican’ is an amazing album and there are some fabulous ideas behind it. That said, when I first bought it, I hated it. It really does not have the instant appeal of the first 4 Blondie LPs. However, I can now honestly say that it’s probably one of my most-played Blondie albums and I love it. So, if you’re a fan, buy it now and please, please give it a chance. After a few listens I think you’ll find it’s really grown on you. If you’re just ‘getting into’ Blondie, though, look elsewhere.
on 3 March 2011
I`ve been a fan of Blondie ever since the late 70s & they`ve done some great albums over the years,but this one tops the lot,an absolute masterpiece & there isn`t one bad track on the whole album.My two favourites are Angels On The Balcony,which in my opinion is the best track that Blondie have ever recorded,a true classic & my other favourite is Rapture,with some superb vocals by Debbie & some brilliant rapping in the middle.I also like the extended version of Call Me,which I haven`t heard before & also the Special Disco Mix of Rapture,which again I haven`t heard before.As I said at the beginning,this album is a masterpiece & one that all Blondie fans should have in their collection.
on 12 March 2011
I absolutely love the diversity on this album... great mix from lazy NY jazz, to reggae, to rock, with a mixture of techno, rap and pop. This is just an interesting album, that doesn't get boring to listen to.
It is somewhat 'Eat to the Beat meets the Hunter'; T-Birds is remenicient of Union City Blue, whilst The Tide is High is a hint of the Little Cesars and Island of Lost Souls to come on The Hunter.
Also has a great cover sleeve!
Stand out tracks for me are: Angels on the Balcony, Suzy & Jeffrey, Here's Looking at You, T-Birds and Do the Dark
Highly recommended, but maybe buy a more traditional Blodnie CD first like Plastic Letters
on 15 February 2013
Blondie as heard in 1980 and an album which saw mixed reactions from critics who have probably now reassessed it and changed their minds.
Rock critics must have thought they were listening to the London Philarmonic but the opening track is actually the Jimmie Haskell Ork who were brought in for some arrangements though the song Here's Looking At You is NOT a show tune it just sounds like one and was written by Harry-Stein and comes out as the kind of thing the Pasadena Orchestra do