A new box set highlights BLONDIE’s remarkable journey, from downtown scenes to uptown regulars. In the latest issue of Uncut magazine – in UK stores from Thursday 21 July and available to buy from our online store – Peter Watts explores the roads not traveled during their formative years alongside DEBBIE HARRY, CHRIS STEIN and CLEM BURKE. “It was always kind of an experience…”
When chris stein left Manhattan about 20 years ago, he took several boxes of blonde ephemera with him and stored them in his garage. These included a Hammersmith Odeon backstage mirror that was brought back to America as Viking plunder, as well as around 100 water-damaged reels of unreleased music, acetates, vinyl and home-recorded cassettes. . Some came from the very beginning of the band’s career in 1974, when Stein and Debbie Harry lived together in an estate of shabby apartments in New York. Others were experimental remixes, created in 1982 as the band was falling apart. In between were the origins of most Blonde biggest success.
Did Harry do you have any idea what his bandmate was sitting on? “I know he’s a very good collector and he’s always kept very interesting things,” she says. “It had been a while since we lived together, but I knew that whatever he recorded at home or in his own studio would be there. There’s everything we recorded together, home demos. Chris had his own label, Animal, so that’s all of that too.
“All That” was retrieved from Stein’s garage, restored, ceded and listened to again for the blonde box Against All Odds: 1974-1982. It’s the first time Stein, Harry and drummer Clem Burke allowed such a deep dive through Blonde archives. In addition to the six original studio albums, there are four albums of rare material including 36 previously unreleased tracks. Collectively, this represents a chance to take a good look at Blonde career as well as a look at some of the roads not taken – weird experiments with a sequencer and a drum machine, an abandoned album with Giorgio Moroderunexpected covers and song ideas that never left Stein and by Harry residence.
“My garage had become the repository for all blonde things that floated,” says Stein. “We wanted to get some of this stuff out into the world. There’s a lot of interest in the process of making these things. People like to hear demos. They are the beginning of the creative journey – they show that initial idea before arriving at the reality of the finished thing. I have not seen The Beatles thing [Get Back], but everyone was very enthusiastic about it, just watching them fuck in the studio for hours. People told me that was the charm of the thing, to see it normalized. This set is another version.
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