Eat To the Beat

Eat To the Beat

Blondie's fourth album, 1979’s Eat To the Beat, followed the runaway success of the gleaming pop gambit Parallel Lines. After scoring a chart-topping smash with the disco experiment “Heart of Glass,” the members of Blondie reunited with producer Mike Chapman for a record that fearlessly ping-pongs between genres, attempting to mine power-pop gold from musical playthings both familiar (punk, girl groups, Motown, disco) and new (reggae, funk, Ennio Morricone). The end result would be Blondie’s second platinum album. Eat To the Beat opens with what would become the album’s biggest hit: “Dreaming,” a luminous rocker inspired by ABBA's “Dancing Queen,” and anchored by the deliberately overplaying of Clem Burke, who provides some of the busiest, most unhinged drumming ever to appear on a pop single. The mid-tempo New Wave soar of Eat To the Beat’s second single, "Union City Blue," pulsates with yearning and melancholy; it's the type of Blondie song that Radiohead could cover, which the British group did in 1995. And the album’s third single, “The Hardest Part,” is a greasy funk-rock stomper about performing a heist on an armored car—as good a metaphor as any for a bunch of punk rockers infiltrating the major-label system. Then there's the album’s final single, the glittery, drum machine space-western party “Atomic”: Intended as the band's “last disco song,” it twangs along on a series of chords that band member Jimmy Destri intended as an ode to spaghetti western soundtracks. Beyond the singles, there’s plenty of pop brilliance on Eat To the Beat, which finds the group playing around with as many sounds as possible: “Die Young Stay Pretty” is the band's attempt at a reggae song, one that successfully paves the way for the group's Caribbean-tinged monster hit “The Tide Is High.” The ballad "Sound-A-Sleep," meanwhile, twinkles like a lullaby, and “Slow Motion” is a Motown throwback. Not long after the release of Eat To the Beat, Blondie would find smash success by taking stabs at Eurodisco (“Call Me”), reggae-rock (“The Tide Is High”), and hip-hop (“Rapture”). But it was the restless genre experimentation on Eat To the Beat that made it clear Blondie was capable of anything.

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