Thursday, 8 January 2009

1980 Blondie: Call Me

Taken from the soundtrack to a long forgotten Richard Gere film ('American Gigolo' if you're interested), 'Call Me' marked a rare breakaway from the band's usual producer Mike Chapman and instead saw Giorgio Moroder taking over production duties. And it shows. Though Moroder had an enviable track record of shimmering, hypnotic dance classics with Donna Summer ('Love To Love You Baby' et al) that had a Kraftwerk-like sparseness (in fact, Moroder's original title for the instrumental track for 'Call Me' was 'Man Machine') but with sensuousness to spare, 'Call Me' runs in defiantly the opposite direction.

Perhaps recognising the limitations of Harry's voice, Moroder throws two kitchen sinks at the song in the hope that something will stick; guitars thrum over synth riffs, drums thump over guitar riffs and just when you start to get used to the carnage there's a ghastly synth guitar riff that whines through the middle eight that carbon dates the whole caboodle quite horribly. Even the hook of the chorus is augmented needlessly by a gorilla grunt call and response that harks back to Glam's salad days, and to add even more eggs to the pudding, everything seems to have been mixed concrete thick and at the same volume.

With no room to breathe between the tracks, Harry has to shout
almost continuously to be heard above the din. And not to be outdone by the car crash going on around her, she starts vocalising in French and Italian halfway through, though what was cute on 'Sunday Girl' (on some versions anyway) now sounds forced and pretentious. 'Call Me' is by no means a bad single - it's fun in a trashy kind of way and there is a decent song underneath struggling to break through - it just doesn't sound much like a Blondie single. For all it's busy brashness, it never locks into any kind of groove and instead wanders like a dog sniffing out a place to piss. And because of the above, it's also dated far worse than their earlier singles like 'Rip Her To Shreds' or 'Picture This'. Now they sound like proper Blondie singles. The trouble is, from here on in Blondie were fated to not sound much like Blondie ever again.

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