Eat to the Beat
(Capitol/Chrysalis 33597)

Rock critics might cream their old "Creem" magazines over Parallel Lines, but looking back without the rose-tinted glasses of having been there, I prefer Eat to the Beat as my pet Blondie record. I won't get into a pissing match over which of their records was a "masterpiece" or whatever; they simply never made a perfect record. Way too much skinny-tie eighth notes and trying-to-be-weird CBGB screamin'.

I'm the sort of Blondie fan who falls in line for the girl-groupy stuff as opposed to the stuff with a cold new-wavey edge. Eat to the Beat probably has the most straight pop in their catalog, aside from perhaps the first album. It charges out with "Dreaming," absolutely soars with "Union City Blue," reins you in with "Shayla," and even tucks you in with "Sound-A Sleep."

Of course, no Blondie album would be complete without a well-defined annoyingness quotient, so you also get the bombastic blather of "Victor" and the occasional "look at us pop guys ROCK!" moment here or there. Mostly, though, even the second-tier tracks rollick along with plenty of melody and the all-encompassing righteousness of Debbie Harry's epic voice.

The remastered version adds four live tracks: "Die Young Stay Pretty" and covers of "Seven Rooms of Gloom" (Four Tops), "Heroes" (David Bowie), and "Ring of Fire" (Johnny Cash). Blondie was not the best band of their time, but they were very much a band of their time, and that time was a pretty damn cool one. Eat to the Beat stands tall in spite of its too-tight pants.

Review by Rita Lumberjack