label: BMG / Beyond
our score: 3.0 out of 5.0
Exit, But Then Again - Who Would Want One?
michael r. smith
1999 release, No Exit has to be the most anticipated comeback
album in recent history. It's only been 15 years after all! The
good news is that this one proves it definitely has been worth
band has garnered considerable press and even launched a tour
this year to promote the album, but unfortunately nostalgia bands
have not fared all that well in terms of public response. Sales
of No Exit have been less than glorious, and Blondie's
return to the limelight at the recent American Music Awards turned
into a rap-free-for-all mess of noise. After embarrassments such
as this, Blondie's future looks uncertain, but their saving grace
may be the one overlooked gem they produced this year - the No
Exit album itself. If only the music could have received the
attention that lead singer Debbie Harry's aged appearance did.
review might be considered a out of date by now, since the album
has been out for six months, but I have yet to see No Exit
get the recognition it deserves. Former Blondie fans who may have
been let down by the lackluster The Hunter album of 1982
will be wishing this album could magically take its place. Still,
one shouldn't be apprehensive about buying No Exit in the
least, as the band obviously has doubled its efforts in producing
the best material of its career.
opening song, "Screaming Skin" was the one song I felt was strangely
placed; not one of my favorites on the album, I actually found
myself wishing "Orchid Club" could come and take its place! But,
like the next song advises: "Forgive and Forget"...it is with
this particular track that my faith in Blondie was fully restored.
Debbie is in fine voice here and throughout the rest of the album.
It is no wonder she was #12 on VH1's list of 100 Greatest Female
Vocalists of All Time.
album gets even better with the next two tracks, "Maria" and the
title track "No Exit". Appropriately released as singles, it was
nice to hear them getting at least some airplay on metro radio
stations. The latter actually was an improvement over the rapper-infested
version seen and heard on TV. Poor Debbie couldn't get a word
in edgewise in that performance. I know it was meant to be in
tribute to the first (white female) rap record, "Rapture,"
perhaps the most remembered Blondie hit...but couldn't we have
limited the number of rappers on stage to one? That's what makes
the album version with Coolio all the more effective.
this isn't an awards show review (oh, don't get me started)...Anyway,
the next few tracks are also great. "Nothing is Real But the Girl"
is supposed to be the new single - hello people, why isn't it
being played on the radio?! The next song, "Boom Boom in the Zoom
Zoom Room"...I can't even type that without laughing...the song
has to be a reject from Debbie's Jazz Passenger sessions. I knew
they'd try to slip some jazzy number in there somewhere. Next!
Wind Sent" is pretty, though sounds too much like "Double Take"....but
aahh, "Under the Gun" is BLONDIE thru and thru. The beat, the
tambourine and melody...perfect. Little bit of Elvis Costello-type
sound in there too for good measure. The remake of their song,
"Out in the Streets" is much improved over the original. The 60's
girl-group sound is a nice departure from the traditional Blondie
sound and is worth further investigating for their possible future(?)
Dog" is a non-sensical throwaway, B-side tune that far too many
albums nowadays are full of. Thankfully, "No Exit" is not one
of them (though it does have its share and is why I only gave
it 3 out of 5). "The Dream's Lost on Me", like "Boom Boom" also
made me chuckle...but this time, in a good way. I was just surprised
to find Blondie trying their hand at country. Hell, if Shania
Twain can do it, why can't Debbie?! It is refreshing to hear Blondie
not taking themselves too seriously. They are also not afraid
to try out different genres...Mariah Carey, are you listening?
I had to go there too...Okay, back to the album. "Divine" and
"Dig Up the Conjo" are fine closers of the album, listenable,
albeit nothing earth-shattering. But wait, it's not over yet,
as there are three unlisted live bonus tracks. ("Dreaming", "Call
Me" and yup, you guessed it..."Rapture").
us an album over 70 minutes in length shows how dedicated and
grateful Debbie and the boys are to their fans. After all these
years, they never really have left our consciousness...hence the
title No Exit. Debbie has been solo for more than a decade
and Chris Stein, though divorced from Debbie, was always there
to be her producer if she needed one. And 80's compilations simply
wouldn't be complete without a Blondie song included. My personal
favorite is "One Way or Another". Hey, remember K-Tel's Rock 80
don't I just stop while I'm ahead? (Better not say that either,
it might take me 15 years to write another review).
liked No Exit...
2. Forgive and Forget
4. No Exit
5. Double Take
6. Nothing Is Real But the Girl
7. Boom Boom in the Zoom Zoom Room
8. Night Wind Sent
9. Under the Gun [For Jeffery Lee Pierce]
10. Out in the Streets
11. Happy Dog [For Caggy]
12. The Dream's Lost on Me
14. Dig up the Conjo