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Blondie still cutting edge

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Chris Stein, left, Clem Burke, Deborah Harry and Jimmy Destri in "Blondie" in Park City at 8 p.m. Monday.

Chris Stein, left, Clem Burke, Deborah Harry and Jimmy Destri in “Blondie” in Park City at 8 p.m. Monday.

Nitin Vadukul, Beyond Records

Quick quiz: Name the only group to score a No. 1 single in three different decades, according to Billboard magazine?

It's not the Beatles or the Rolling Stones.

Correct answer: Blondie.

The pop-punk-techno band out of New York was on top the world in the late '70s and early '80s with such chart-toppers as "Heart of Glass" in 1979, "Call Me" and "The Tide is High" in 1980, and "Rapture" in 1981.

But after releasing six albums in six years, tensions within the band were high. The group disbanded in 1982, and shortly afterward, guitarist Chris Stein learned he had a rare genetic illness called pemphigus, which is often fatal.

Fast-forward some 16 years, and almost out of the blue, original members Stein (now healthy), Deborah Harry, drummer Clem Burke and keyboardist Jimmy Destri got together for a concert that eventually led to a new album in 1999 — and another No. 1 song, "Maria."

The reunion was a success and the band went back into the studio to record another album, "The Curse of Blondie," which was released last year.

The album's title is meant to be a joke about all the things that have happened to the group, Burke said by phone from a hotel room in Anaheim, Calif. With tongue in cheek, he said more people might have gotten the sarcasm of the title if it were dripping in blood like a B-horror movie.

Actually, Burke said that being a member of Blondie has been a blessing rather than a curse. "We're very fortunate. I couldn't be happier about the way things are for us. Going on tour is like being on vacation. The fact is that Blondie is part of our lives. It's always there, for better or worse, like a marriage."

Blondie has always been on the cutting edge of experimenting with different types of music and bringing them into pop culture. "Rapture" is recognized as exposing many listeners to rap for the first time, just as the reggae beat of "The Tide is High" was considered innovative 24 years ago.

"The Curse of Blondie" is no different, with songs ranging from the street-rap of "Shakedown" to the classic Blondie pop sounds of "Good Boys" and "Undone," and even a little traditional Japanese with "Magic (Asadoya Yunta)" "We always find weird cover songs here and there," Burke said.

The band's not being content to stick with a particular genre of music can partially be attributed to the many diverse tastes of its members. Burke said he prefers '60s rock-pop, while Harry likes jazz, and Destri has a collection of soundtracks. "The creative process is an open canvas for the band. If someone has an idea, we work on it as a band, see if it makes sense once the track is completed."

Burke said Blondie could probably perform four complete concerts playing four totally different styles of music each night.

Burke's own preference for Blondie is the classic-pop sound found on such tracks as "Maria" and "Dreaming." "I would like for us to do a "Maria"-esqe pop record. That would be a dream come true. But I'm not the only person in the band."


If you go

What: Blondie

Where: Harry O's, Park City

When: Monday, 8 p.m.

How much: $28

Phone: 467-8499 or 1-800-888-8499

Web: www.smithstix.com


E-mail: preavy@desnews.com