on 24 October 2004
This is one of my favourite Blondie album's although ever since its release it seems to have attracted mixed reviews. Mike Chapman had yet to get his hands on the group so there is a 'rawness' here that was replaced by slick production come Parallel Lines.
The best track here has to be (I'm Always Touched By Your) Presence Dear - by the very talented Gary Valentine - he also wrote the great bonus track 'Scenery' - which didn't make the original recording due to Debbie's 'weak' (according to Mr Valentine) vocal. I kinda like the way she sings it though!
I love 'I didn't have the nerve to say no' - it's up there with 'Kung Fu Girls' for energy. Speaking of which - 'I'm On E' refers to Empty - energy wise, and is a great track. 'Youth Nabbed As Sniper' and 'Fan Mail' are both great tunes and of course 'Detroit 442' is always a popular choice. Their cover of 'Denis' remains as fresh as the day it was recorded whilst 'Contact In Red Square' reminds us this was an album recorded in the 70's.
I would recommend this album to any Blondie newcomer and advise them to buy 'Blondie' at the same time!
on 2 March 2002
Released in 1978, Blondie's second album is rawer and rougher
around the edges than the also excellent debut. It has a
darker The Doors/The Velvet Underground/The Stooges influence.
There are some lighter songs, however, in the UK No 2 hit
"Denis" and Debbie's hilarious solo composition "Love At The
Keyboard player Jimmy Destri's "Fan Mail" opens the album.
Delivered from a fan's point of view, it ends in wedding bells
and an anguished cry. His other songs on the album include
the one night stand "No Imagination", the rockabilly "Kidnapper"
and the Chris Stein co-penned "Detroit 442", a tribute to
working class Detroit and Iggy Pop ("Jimmy O").
Guitarist Chris's contributions include "Bermuda Triangle Blues"
and "Youth Nabbed As Sniper" (the latter based on the then current
Son Of Sam killings in New York and reminiscent of Jim Morrison's
"The Lords" poetry.) "Cautious Lip" a Ronnie Toast (a poet
friend of the band)/Chris Stein psychadelic/Velvets number
closes the album.
Clem Burke's drumming is frequently impeccable and always
exciting throughout the album and Debbie gives great growl
and sass throughout. This was the album that started to
get Blondie some attention and success in the UK and as
their punkiest album it deserves to be heard by anyone who
enjoys the current punk style of The Strokes and The Hives.
Less polished than the megaselling Parallel Lines, this 1977 album nevertheless perfectly encapsulates the pop side of New York punk in its catchy pop-rock tunes. Besides the hits Denis and (I'm Always Touched By Your) Presence, Dear, other great songs include Fan Mail, the wistful Bermuda Triangle Blues and I Didn't Have The Nerve To Say No. The song I'm On E now sounds strangely prophetic although I think they were referring to the vitamin. The marriage of sometimes witty, always intelligent lyrics and clever melodies make a classic album that has aged very well. The bonus tracks add value so this is definitely a great buy.
on 24 September 2004
Denis and Presence Dear the two British top 10 hits and major hits all over Europe are well known. The rest on Plastic Letters is new wave at it's best !!! However the delicious Bermuda Triangle Blues(Flight 45) is a georgeous ballad,mmmhh I love that song. On the bonus tracks Scenery and Poets Problem are featured, those songs are so good that I never understood why they weren't released on the original album. Plastic Letters was the first album I ever bought and it's one of my favourite !!! If you're new to Blondie and love the heavier stuff then buy Plastic Letters it won't dissapoint you !!!!
on 21 August 2003
1977’s ‘Plastic Letters’ was Blondie’s second album and is definitely one of my favourites.
This is Blondie’s punkiest album to date, a lot of the song lyrics featuring very deep, dark imagery- an obsessive fan, spooky plane crashes, a teenage killer and a mysterious kidnapper all feature in the track list. Although you’ll be glad to hear that the gloomy, disturbed lyrics don’t translate into gloomy, disturbed sound (on the majority of tracks, anyway), with a large part of the LP sounding quite poppy and more like the band’s debut.
Virtually every track is a standout, full of Blondie’s trademark irony and twisted humour. ‘Plastic Letters’ features two hit singles, the sweetly poppy cover version of ‘Denis’ and the tender timbre of ‘(I’m Always Touched By Your) Presence, Dear’, the band’s legacy to former bassist Gary Valentine. The reissued version contains 4 extra tracks: an early, slower version of disco classic ‘Heart Of Glass’ called ‘Once I Had A Love (aka The Disco Song)’, unused album track ‘Scenery’, the atmospheric ‘Poet’s Problem’ (B-side of ‘…Presence, Dear’), and finally, a live version of album track ‘Detroit 442’.
I would highly recommend ‘Plastic Letters’ to anyone that likes Blondie; it is a unique and truly great album and if you haven’t got it- buy it now!
"Plastic Letters," Blondie's second album, released in October 1977, was pretty much in a similar vein to their self-titled debut album. The cynical attitude is there in the songs and the production values are fine (Richard Gottehrer was the producer on both albums), but the album just sounds for the most part like these were the songs Chris Stein, Jimmy Destri, and Deborah Harry had left over when they did the first album. The exceptions that prove the rule this time around would be "(I'm Always Touched By Your) Presence, Dear," which is one of my favorite Blondie tunes (and which was covered in the U.K. by Tracey Ullman). Unfortunately that song was written by Gary Valentine, who left as the group's bass player at this point in Blondie's early history. Otherwise you have punk/new wave attitude in songs like "Youth Nabbed As Sniper," "I Didn't Have the Nerve to Say No," "Love at the Pier," and "Fan Mail." "Bermuda Triangle Blues" is probably the best of the rest, but it depends on your taste.
Given what would happen with the next couple of Blondie albums when the group became a sextet and sharpened it sound, these first two albums clearly represent the band in its rawest form. "Plastic Letters" only reached #72 on the Billboard album charts and there were no singles released in the U.S. The U.K. saw "Presence, Dear" and "Denis" (which was a transgender cover of Randy and the Rainbows' 1963 hit "Denise") both make it to the Top 10. Since you already have the best song on the "Best of Blondie" hits collection, if you feel the need to pick up all of the group's albums, then pick up the remastered version of "Plastic Letters" with the bonus tracks.
on 16 July 2011
Less than a year after their quirky self-titled 1976 debut, Blondie returned with the stronger, punkier `Plastic Letters', complete with their pop trash culture influences solidly intact. Again produced by 60s pop composer Richard Gottehrer, the songs on this second album have more drive, more attitude and, with the general increase in song-writing sophistication of everyone involved, must have indicated that the band were likely to deliver even better things.
With singer Deborah Harry credited far less in the song-writing on this effort, the prowess of the other band members becomes much more evident. Keyboardist Jimmy Destri's predilection for mod- infused new wave pop-rock was becoming increasingly clear with some absolute gems among his six contributions on the 13 tracks. `Fan Mail', `Contact in Red Square', `No Imagination', `Kidnapper' and the awesome rocker `Detroit 442' (with Chris Stein) all serve to anchor the harder, faster approach on this release. Stein's six are slightly less consistent, but `Youth Nabbed by Sniper' is a perfect companion piece to Destri's style while the awesome, giddy, acid-rock infused semi ballad, `Bermuda Triangle Blues', about a mysterious plane disappearance in said zone, is the album's super nova moment. Bassist Gary Valentine's `(I'm Always) Touched By Your Presence Dear' is also a high point. The rest are all ok, but prove again that Harry probably needed a co-writer.
Destri's keyboards soar into their own on this record while Deborah Harry's trademark sneer and coquettish phrasing become fully formed, stamping her as far more than a pretty lead singer. There is something happening on `Plastic Letters' and, even not knowing what was to come back in 1977, it must have pointed to a band that was not likely to fade away quckly.
Like its predecessor, the 2001 remaster sounds fantastic, but the additional four tracks, already available on other compilations, don't add much.
on 24 October 2001
Plastic Letters...is the best Blondie album ever (no less) : from the perfectly b movie-esque sleeve (let's face it : Debbie Harry has never looked so good, in a cheap sleazy way) to the music inside : The marvellously catchy "Denis" was actually a hit in early '78 and deservedly so; but what sets this record apart is four gems of immaculate pop, at the same time cleverly revivalistic (sixties bubble-gum music in all its glory) and naively futuristic (just listen to the synthesizers !): "Fan Mail" (musical twists and turns and what an ending !), "Bermuda Triangle Blues (Flight 45)" (literally angst ridden), "Contact in Red Square" (cold war fun : James Bond meets The Red Army Choir !)and finally "(I'm Always Touched) By Your Presence, Dear", a prime example of heavenly vocals and chiming guitars.
In a way, "Plastic Letters" is Blondie's "Rubber Soul" : simultaneously epitomizing the best in the band's past and future; after this, "Parallel Lines" sounded vastly disappointing : the magic had clearly gone as Blondie prepared to become a world famous - and rather bland -...
In a word, a super value re-issue with nice bonus tracks.
on 3 March 2001
This is the second album, and by far the best. The debut being generally good, but uneven, which can't be said about this album. All the good things from the first album on an entire album, before they became too polished, even if they were good as mainstream too. For the pure Blondie, the way they always should've been, this is the album.
on 15 March 2013
Enjoyed this cd as hadn't already heard it (did have parallel lines and eat to the beat) Some interesting early work, maybe a little rough around the edges compared with parallel lines but still a decent cd.