Blondie – Autoamerican

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Cult, and last record before Blondie’s breakup, this historical classic has the first(?) recorded woman’s rap

Before Rapture, rap was little known outside of New York City’s outer boroughs, but Debbie Harry’s rap, name checking scene legends Fab Five Freddy and Grandmaster Flash (alongside ’60s film auteur Francois Truffaut, for the downtown hipsters), helped brought the style worldwide ! This seemingly innocuous title is actually historic : it’s the very first pop song including rap to rank number 1 on US charts. Back in 1981, Rapture was omnipresent on radio’s Top 40, only Kim Carnes’s Bette Davis Eyes had more airplay…

This rap was so groundbreaking, that the reference helped Grandmaster Flash to expand its audience : “My audience at one point was mostly black and Hispanic, She introduced me [mentioning it in Rapture], and there, whites and others began to wonder : who is Flash? She really opened a door for me!”.

Blondie was “Bronx friendly”, especially in 1983, when the movie Wild Style was released. Considered as the first hip-hop film shot in the Bronx, with all the protagonists of the scene, it will have a decisive influence on many rappers. Chris Stein, Blondie’s guitarist, produced part of the film’s soundtrack, considered cult. A famous photo shows him on the set, along with Debbie Harry, with Grandmaster Flash and Fab Five Freddy.

Blondie ‘s last “chef-d’oeuvre”, Opening with the sublime Europa , Autoamerican should be in every record collections, not only because of it’s historic first rap by a white woman in the 80s, but because it is a fine collection of amazing pop songs.

Blondie : Deborah Harry (vocals)
Chris Stein (guitar, bass, vibraphone)
James Destri (piano, organ, synthesizer, background vocals)
Frank Infante (bass, background vocals)
Clem Burke (drums, background vocals).

Additional personnel :
Howard Kaylan, Mark Volman (vocals)
Jimmie Haskill (arranger)
Wa Wa Watson (guitar)
Tom Scott (saxophone)
Steve Goldstein (piano, synthesizer)
Ray Brown (bass)
Scott Lesser, Ollie Brown, Emil Richards, Alex Acuna (percussion)
B-Girls (background vocals)

Producer : Mike Chapman.
Reissue producer : Kevin Flaherty.Recorded at United Western Studio, Hollywood, California in December 1980. Originally released on Chrysalis (1290).

Tracklisting :

Side A
1. Europa
2. Live It Up
3. Here’s Looking At You
4. Tide Is High, The
5. Angels On The Balcony
6. Go Through It

Side B
7. Do The Dark
8. Rapture
9. Faces
10. T-Birds
11. Walk Like Me
12. Follow Me

IT WAS late in the ’30s when New York cemented its claim as America’s most energetic and insistent symbol of urban eroticism and urbane careerism. And a photographer of the time, Berenice Abbott, catalogued the city’s obsessive replacement of the new with the newer as “a native fantasia emerging from accelerated greed”. That phrase could usefully serve as a description of Autoamerican, the personal Manhattan Project of Blondies Chris Stein and Deborah Harry – with associates Nigel Harrison, Clem Burke, James Destri and Frank Infante (rocksbackpages)

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