Thursday, January 02, 2020

Song of the Day: 'Studio 54' (live) by Blondie

This rare audio clip from Blondie's first live performance in 15 years just surfaced online and it stirred a few emotions in me. For starters, I was actually living in D.C. when this HFStival happened there, yet I had no idea. (What the hell?!) But perhaps even more noteworthy, the band was already trying out new material -- but not anything that would wind up on the reunion album nearly two years later. Instead, we hear "Studio 54," one of two songs Duran Duran wrote and produced for their former idols. ("Pop Trash Movie" was the other, which the Durans later recorded when Blondie didn't use it.) 

(Photo by Eddie Malluk)

Neither of the songs was especially good -- the lyrics to "Studio 54" were almost embarrassingly on the nose. But this live version surpasses the widely leaked demo and shows that the band was on the right path. Call me a curmudgeon, but it's hard not to look back and think this kind of update to their classic New Wave pop sound was the way to go. Instead it was derailed by ill-conceived attempts at then-more-current sounds, leading to stuff like the No Doubt-y "Screaming Skin," the Kenny G-y "Double Take," the MOR-ish "Night Wind Sent" as well as the title track Coolio collaboration. 

Above: Listen to Blondie reunite at the HFStival in Washington, D.C., in May 1997. It was their first live performance since Aug. 21, 1982, in Philadelphia, where the band was part of a festival that also included Robert Hazard, A Flock of Seagulls, Elvis Costello and Genesis. They had performed three days earlier in Toronto, the last date of the "Tracks Across America" tour supporting "The Hunter." That show was recorded for HBO, but the second leg of the tour (Europe) was canceled with the band dissolving shortly thereafter. 

Blondie's demo of "Pop Trash Movie" ...

The finished product that appeared on Duran Duran's 2000 album, "Pop Trash."

2 comments: said...

This post reminds me: The original video for The Tide Is High is GONE. Erased from the internet, save for a couple of guys who have bootleg copies on Facebook.

Chris Stein was asked about it, and claims he doesn't know about this. And surmised it may have disappeared "from neglect?"

HOW and WHY does the original video of a number one song just completely disappear from the internet?
Quite a bizarre mystery.

Unknown said...

I am not sure what you are referring to here. Both versions are on youtube. - this is the second version. The first consisted of older clips with a little footage from the second version.