Thursday, August 12, 2004

Review - Singles Box

Artist: Blondie

Posted on Thu, Aug 12, 2004 at 4:00 AM

Singles Box
Label: EMI
Media: CD
Format: Album
WorkNameSort: Singles Box

Oddly enough, of all the Blondie compilations out there, this one – the most expensive, most unwieldy and least comprehensive one – is the best. Singles Box is a 15-disc collection (yes, fifteen) that contains only 44 tracks. That's three songs less than 1994's two-disc Platinum Collection, which cost about $20 less. So, this is less music for (a lot) more money, and it's spread inconveniently across 15 CDs, which makes it a total pain in the ass to listen to under any normal circumstance.

This is better why?

The answer is simple. Blondie, being that fine collision of pop sensibility and punk scenesterism, was one of the ultimate singles bands. With the exception of the near-perfect Parallel Lines, Blondie's album adventures were generally amazing hits (and their B-sides) padded unmercifully by some largely unexciting filler material. There were exceptions: "Youth Nabbed as Sniper" from Plastic Letters or "Little Girl Lies" from Blondie are great songs, but little can redeem the existence of songs like the uncomfortably spazzy "I'm on E" or similar fluff.

This box set is, obviously, all singles. Packaged like singles, with the original artwork intact, B-sides present and dance mixes – rather, disco mixes – crowding up the latter discs, each CD is a pop explosion with Debbie Harry's then-gorgeous mug staring lasciviously at you from the cover. By the time the sugar rush has worn off from "Hanging on the Telephone" (and its B-side, "Will Anything Happen?") and my fantasy about being the microphone in Debbie's hand has faded, the disc is over. Call it rampant fetishism – an altogether antiquated concept in this digital age – but that's exactly the vibe that Blondie mastered.

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