Few labels know how to set expectations quite like Sympathy for the Record Industry. With their Blondie tribute, the title would appear to say it all, but then there's the sticker on the back -- "24 tracks by 24 bands that aren't as good as Blondie" -- and the typically self-deprecating liner notes by label head Long Gone John. (Almost makes you wanna pick up another copy of Parallel Lines instead, doesn't it?) But the testimonials from Debbie Harry and Chris Stein tell another story: Maybe this compilation isn't so bad -- or so unnecessary -- after all. And how about that boffo cover art? Well, the music may not be bad, but "necessary" is another matter entirely. The bands selected are mostly all-girl pop-punk combos from the U.S. and Canada. Some are Sympathy acts, some not. Most aren't particularly well-known, with the possible exception of the Chubbies and the Beards (featuring Kim Shattuck from the Pandoras and the Muffs). The overall approach toward Blondie's catalog, however, is largely the same: Ditch the keyboards, speed up the tempo -- bash it out. Consequently, L'Alouette, Third Grade Teacher, and the Beards stand out simply by slowing down the pace. How Many Bands Does It Take to Screw Up a Blondie Tribute? isn't quite the disaster its title would imply, but it's short on inspiration and too few of the vocalists can even begin to touch the charisma of the inimitable Ms. Harry.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Kathleen C. Fennessy