I was too earnest 30 years ago to allow myself to enjoy Heart of Glass and Sunday Girl very much, though even then I couldn't deny they were brilliant pop songs. At the time it seemed they were the heirs to Abba, who went off the boil in my book after The Album (nowadays I might make a case for The Visitors, but that was later, and a different kind of animal — and another story). Like Abba, Blondie absorbed what was in the air each year — from the Mororoderesque electro-disco of Call Me to proto-rap on Rapture — but they did it with even more assurance than Abba. Except Rapture.
I put this CD on in the car as I set off for End of the Road festival on Friday. As I was driving, I couldn't check the tracklist. The first three tracks — Atomic, Heart of Glass, Sunday Girl — are so good, I had to assume they'd front-loaded the album. Which makes sense, because we rarely listen all the way through a compilation, so all the great songs should be at the beginning. But my assumption was wrong. They keep coming. Still, by the time of Track 11, Island of Lost Souls, I thought the quality was finally beginning to fall off (though noticed for the first time how the vocal on that song sounds like 10,000 Maniacs four years later). Wrong again. I'd forgotten about Union City Blue. Track 13, for Pete's sake. They save that breathtaking drum intro until Track 13.
So, along with Pet Shop Boys' Discography, this is that rarest of creatures: a greatest hits set where the songs are all great and all hits. Except War Child.
I'll leave you with Paul Schrader near the height of his powers.
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