The early career of Blondie included several key stepping stones. The point where they changed their name from the short-lived Angel & the Snake in 1974 was one, and their first contract with the independent Private Stock in 1976 was another.
But however indie that company was, the proto-punk early Blondie sound wasn’t really a good fit for a label that had Frankie Valli and David Soul on its roster. Then, on 1 September 1977, came the pact with Chrysalis Records that would be Blondie’s breakthrough record deal.
Private Stock had released the first, self-titled Blondie album, featuring their early live favourites and singles ‘X Offender,’ ‘In The Flesh’ and ‘Rip Her To Shreds,’ at the end of 1976. Remarkable as it soon seemed once they were ruling the pop universe later in the decade, for all of Blondie’s coolness on the live scene, neither the album nor any of the singles delivered any commercial success in the US or UK.
As soon as they were in the Chrysalis fold, the new label reissued the first album, while the band continued work on the record that truly marked their arrival, early 1978’s Plastic Letters, again produced by Richard Gottehrer, with its hits ‘Denis’ and ‘(I’m Always Touched By Your) Presence, Dear.’ The latter song was written by original bassist Gary Valentine, who left Blondie earlier in ’77 to be replaced by Frank Infante. Before the end of the year, he had moved to rhythm guitar, with British bassman Nigel Harrison introduced to the fold.
Soon after the Chrysalis signing, a feature in ZigZag drew the distinction between Blondie’s US following, which the magazine said was very focused on Debbie Harry’s visual appeal, and the UK, where they had recently been touring with Television. “Many writers and concert-goers found the music interesting,” wrote Ira Robbins. “Some real enthusiasm for the band’s unique blend of Broadway and Dave Clark 5 was discernible.”
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