Monday, August 30, 2010

"Heart of Glass" (1979)

77. Blondie, "Heart of Glass" (March 17, 1979, #1)

Another heinous sellout of epic proportions, once again producing results that only the most hardened could object to. In this case, it is New York punk-rock scenesters Blondie dabbling in the dread disco and dancing their way to the top of the charts, incidentally inventing a neat counterpoint to the Rolling Stones' "Heart of Stone" (and maybe Neil Young's "Heart of Gold" too), which others have used elsewhere to good effect. The song actually started life in 1975 as a reggae number called "Once I Had a Love," which is frankly hard for me to imagine. As reconfigured a scant few years later, with producer Mike Chapman given his head at the board, it's one of the smoothest, slickest productions to emerge from the heyday of disco, as glistening and sleek and cool as the material that provides its name. The four-on-the-floor is thankfully understated (but there, oh there), the little guitar flicks almost tender, and the backing vocals positively meditative. It's the swirling layers of keyboards and the ethereal vocals from Deborah Harry that do most of the heavy lifting. The groove is so fine that this is one of those rare dance songs whose mixes can be judged by their length, i.e., longer better. Longer longer better better. Longer longer longer better better better. I'm not sure what I can add. It's good to dance to? Sometimes I think I might be getting a little tired of it, but often a change in setting, hearing it somewhere that surprises me—such as, these days, an elevator—can revive all its charms for me in an instant. Maybe that sounds like damning with faint praise, but that doesn't mean it's not a damn fine song.

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