Although Debbie Harry's popularity had decreased by the late '80s, 1989 wasn't a bad year for her at all. That year, Blondie's former lead vocalist successfully portrayed a struggling singer on the brilliant but underrated CBS crime drama Wiseguy, and demonstrated that she could still have considerable fun in the studio. Under the direction of hit producer Mike Chapman – who had worked with Blondie, as well as with everyone from Sweet to Scandal – Harry delivers an eclectic CD that isn't in a class with a Blondie treasure like Parallel Lines but nonetheless has a lot going for it. Much of this new wave-ish pop/rock and European-flavored dance music is heartfelt, clever, and quite memorable. Everything from the charming "Brite Side" (which she performed on Wiseguy) to the addictive "Bike Boy" to the haunting "He Is So" makes it clear that Harry, at 43, was far from a has-been.
Unexpectedly, Texas became a popular sensation prior to the release of White on Blonde when Chris Evans made the soulful single "Say What You Want" the de facto theme song on his morning program on Radio 1. On the strength of his support, Texas was catapulted to previously unthinkable success, and the majority of the fans who thought the number one single was fine shouldn't have been disappointed with the full-length album. A combination of roots-rock and soul, White on Blonde occasionally has more style than substance, but Sharleen Spiteri's gorgeous vocals and the band's professionalism make the record a charming, ingratiating listen.
Blonde on Blonde was a guitar-led psychedelic rock group from South Wales. The band was formed in Newport in 1967 by vocalist/guitarist Ralph Denyer, drummer Les Hicks, bassist/organist Richard Hopkins and guitarist/sitar player Gareth Johnson. The band was named after Bob Dylan's 1966 album of the same name.
Essential: A masterpiece of progressive rock music.
Blonde on Blonde's second album, Rebirth, was a more focused body of music than their debut; it also constituted the recording debut of the group's second lineup: David Thomas (vocals, guitar, bass), Gareth Johnson (sitar, lead guitar, lute, electronic effects), Richard Hopkins (bass, keyboards), and Les Hicks (drums, percussion). Whether they're doing the spacy, airy, psychedelic pop of "Castles in the Sky" or the folky "Time Is Passing," the group attack their instruments as though they're performing live, and the effect is riveting throughout, even when the melodic content flags slightly.