Live by Request


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Live by Request Review

by Sean Westergaard

Live by Request is Blondie's entry in the A&E series, and it's got some truly excellent moments as well as some cringe-inducing ones. It should be said that this is not the original Blondie: only Debbie Harry, Chris Stein, and the incomparable Clem Burke remain from the original band. Even Jimmy Destri, who had been involved in the No Exit album, is gone again, but the band really hits on all cylinders, with lots of extended solos ("Rip Her to Shreds," "Rapture") and tons of energy. Debbie Harry can't hit all the high notes she used to, but she still sounds (and looks!) great, especially when you consider she was nearly 59 at the time of recording in 2004. The faults of the album don't lie in the playing of the band; it's the obnoxious and overdone audience participation. Having the audience sing along is almost always a bad idea, and it happens far too often on Live by Request. Then there's the typically devoid-of-rhythm audience clap along that accompanies "The Tide Is High," which is largely rescued by a very cool keyboard solo. Another problem is the prevalence of the false-ending-that-leads-to-more-soloing concept, which is OK once but gets pretty tiresome quickly. Since it is a "Live by Request" set, they stick to their classic repertoire, only dipping into the recent No Exit for an acoustic "The Dream's Lost on Me," which is performed with just acoustic guitar and mandolin, and "Good Boys," another recent single. Blondie have always been a great live band, and most of this performance proves that they still are. If they'd have just stuck to playing rather than pandering, this could have been a great set. As it stands, it's still a pretty strong set from a great American band, and perfect for those who enjoyed the original broadcast. Harder core Blondie fans should check out their earlier live recordings, like Live: Philadelphia 1978/Dallas 1980, which is a reissue of the deleted Picture This Live.

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