I’ll admit some of the latter songs don’t shine lyrically and their slow pace can put off old-timers. "Love Doesn't Frighten Me" and “Sunday Smile” will likely be few listeners' favorites—but then again, all these tracks are worth a second play for one key reason.
Blondie has always been much more than its lead singer. The players on this disc, veterans and new members alike, are performing at a very high level indeed. They too have improved with age. Most contribute to the songwriting and all contribute to the often sophisticated production. Of course, there’s Chris Stein (guitar), Clem Burke (drums, percussion, backing vocals), Paul Carbonara (guitar), Leigh Foxx (bass), and Matt Katz Bohen (keyboards, piano, organ). Additional players include Elliot Easton (guitar), Zach Condon (trumpet), and Tommy Kessler (guitar). In other words, the first time through this set, many of us will focus on where Debbie Harry is at now. A second, third or fourth play may open up a wider appreciation for what is a band in every sense of the term.
You've got to go to Amazon.com for this one, as the group has an exclusive deal with that outlet for this release. Check out the samples you can find online, and if they’re to your liking, try the full collection. Perhaps you won’t fall in love with all the songs from first to last, but there’s enough here for devotees of the original sound as well as those willing to let musicians expand and evolve over the years. Throw out your expectations and experience this one on its own terms. If you can go on an international tour, why not in the company of old friends who clearly know the lay of the land and have absorbed the flavors of where they’ve been?