Recorded in Los Angeles, the production on Autoamerican
is the aural equivalent of soft focus, the sound supplemented by plenty of session players putting a gloss on things.
Certainly, eclecticism is still paramount - the album's two big hits were vastly different - a reggae cover of "The Tide is High", which is a bit too similar to Eat to the Beat
's "Die Young Stay Pretty", and the groundbreaking but nowadays dated rock/rap hybrid "Rapture". But Blondie the band is in short supply on Autoamerican
, even if the lyrics have bite.
The album opens with Stein's "Europa" and "Live It Up" - practically an overture with orchestral backing and a minimal guitar line that phases into a spoken-word piece. And "Angels on the Balcony" and "Do the Dark" - both power/pop songs by Destri - are two of the stronger tracks, but lack edge, while a third - "Walk Like Me" - doesn't even come close.
On the whole, the album's rock numbers belong more to the teased hair world of Los Angeles than the New York scene, and often sound like Michael Jackson backing tracks. That's because Harry's voice was Blondie's only true distinguishing feature, and - whilst she gets to sound kittenish on faux 40's cocktail numbers "Here's Looking at You" and "Faces" - the backing is derived from session players more than from the band.
Far worse is the album's ending - a cover of Camelot
's "Follow Me" is just Harry's ethereal voice over a session man's synths. So the band's contribution is inconspicuous, instead session men ranging from Flo & Eddie to Tom Scott appear in their place.
As a big-time pop album, Autoamerican
may've had mass appeal, but somewhere along the way the band's rough New York edge was sanded away - insincerity and sincerity become indistinguishable.Rated:
by Reviewer: Obscurity
(blogging at Obscurity!