456. ‘Call Me’, by Blondie

In which Blondie return after only six weeks away – that’s a very short time between chart-toppers, really – with another disco-rock stomper.

Call Me, by Blondie (their 4th of six #1s)

1 week, 20th – 27th April 1980

About a year ago, when records like ‘Tragedy’ and ‘I Will Survive’ were monopolising the chart’s top-spot, I killed disco off. It had peaked, I said. New-wave, post-punk, electronica were about to take over. But it’s not been that simple… Acts keep sticking a disco beat on their songs and scoring hits: Pink Floyd, Fern Kinney, Dr. Hook… And the masters of it, Blondie.

As with ‘Atomic’, there’s another whip-snapping intro, a drum-roll, and a beat that grabs you along for the ride. And what a ride. Colour me your colour baby, Colour me your car… Not sure what that’s all about, to be honest, but this isn’t the sort of song where you stop to think about the lyrics.

Again, as she did in the band’s previous #1, Debbie Harry is letting loose compared to the ‘Parallel Lines’ hits. Call me! she hollers at the top of her voice… On the line, Call me call me any anytime… It’s pretty clear what kind of call she’s talking about (think Donna Summer in ‘Hot Stuff’…) Anytime, anyplace, anywhere, any day, any way…

‘Call Me’ didn’t feature on any Blondie album – it was recorded for the soundtrack of ‘American Gigolo’, starring Richard Gere, which perhaps explains the unrepentant lyrics and why it followed so hot on ‘Atomic’s heels. The soundtrack version is a full eight minutes long, with beefier synths, and a verse about being taken out and shown off, as all the best gigolos want to be. The producer behind the soundtrack was none other than Giorgio Moroder, which means he’s now been involved in three UK chart-toppers with three different acts, and this won’t be his last…

Few bands have the sort of golden runs that Blondie were having in 1979-80. In just over a year they have had four chart-toppers, all of which I’d say were at least eights out of ten. (If you insist: ‘Heart of Glass’ 9.5, ‘Sunday Girl’ 8, ‘Atomic’ 9, ‘Call Me 8.5) Their one release that didn’t top the charts in amongst all this was ‘Dreaming’, a #2 and another stone-cold classic, much more post-punk than disco (and another 8.5, since you ask.)

Sadly, they have but one chart-topper to come, and – without wanting to give too much away – one that isn’t quite in the same league. And of course they’ll have a huge comeback almost twenty years later, but as great as that #1 is I would count it as something separate. Anyway. Let’s leave Blondie here, at the peak of their powers, and their chart success. A band that sound great anywhere, anytime, any day…


18 thoughts on “456. ‘Call Me’, by Blondie

  1. On paper i should love this one – moroder, blondie, pulsing beat – but i always saw it as a diversion from their “proper” work. Its a really good single but coming after Atomic it was a step down and i was miffed this was huge in the States and Atomic wasn’t. I mean what!? Me I was getting more into stuff like OMD’s Messages by this time if you want pulsating exciting synth tracks 🙂

    • I see what you mean about ‘a step down’, but with its three minutes of catchy hooks and that irresistible rush of energy – I can’t but still love this one just as much as I did when it first came out. Even forty years plus, it doesn’t sound in the least stale or irritating!

    • I am surprised at that… I can’t see much of a dip in quality between this and ‘Atomic’. I was going to suggest that maybe the lyrics here are a bit trite, but to be honest the lyrics to ‘Atomic’ aren’t ground-breaking either.

  2. In America, “Call Me” was the song that put Blondie back on top in the year after “Heart of Glass” as their songs in between like “One Way Or Another” had been moderate hits at best. “Call Me” wound up being a bigger hit here than the UK spending six weeks at #1 and Billboard naming it as the biggest hit of 1980. Well deserved. What I find interesting about the song is that originally Giorgio Moroder wanted to record the song with Stevie Nicks but her contract wouldn’t allow her to work with him. That would have been an interesting version. But here this is still a fun banger. Tom Breihan greatly points out how Debbie Harry hasn’t sounded more like a straight-up rocker than she does here and that it feels like a foreshadowing of what’s to come, ““Call Me” isn’t disco, and it damn sure isn’t punk. It’s the next thing. It whips you along into the sleazy neon future.”

    • I like the sound of a ‘sleazy, neon future’… It is a banger, you’re right, and the best bit for me are the two grungy, crunchy power chords between the solo and the last chorus. It’s the little things that make a song classic.

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      • I couldn’t watch it as a teen. It scared the s*** out of me. I caught it a couple of years ago and it is weird. You get to see Debbie Harry topless.

        David Cronenberg is known for weird s***…Scanners, The Dead Zone, The Fly, Dead Ringers, Crash, Existenz…

        Yeah, Brian & Bianca O’Blivion. Heh.

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