Producer Mike Chapman insisted the band record in Los Angeles. However, the band insisted on the cover artwork shot being from their hometown, posing on a roof at New York’s Broadway and Eighth. The image was taken from a commissioned painting by artist Martin Hoffman
Autoamerican is the fifth studio album by the American rock band Blondie. It was released in November 1980 and reached No. 3 in the UK charts, No. 7 in the US, and No. 8 in Australia.
The album was a radical departure for the band, with opening track “Europa” setting the pace. The track is a dramatic instrumental overture featuring orchestral arrangements and ending with vocalist Debbie Harry declaiming a passage about automobile culture over an electronic soundtrack. Besides rock and pop tracks, the band explored a wide range of other musical genres: “Here’s Looking at You” and “Faces” show jazz and blues influences, the reggae hit “The Tide Is High” was a cover of The Paragons’ 1967 Jamaican ska hit, whereas “Rapture” combined funk, rock, jazz, and even saw them embracing the then emerging genre of rap. The closing track, “Follow Me”, was a cover of a torch song from Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s 1960 Broadway musical Camelot.
Producer Mike Chapman insisted the band record in Los Angeles. Guitarist Chris Stein lamented: “Every day we get up, stagger into the blinding sun, [and] drive past a huge Moon-mobile from some ancient sci-fi movie.” Drummer Clem Burke welcomed the change: “Autoamerican was fun. We got to spend two months in California. I’m always up for a free ride.” However, the band insisted on the cover artwork shot being from their hometown, posing on a roof near New York’s Broadway and Eighth (more precisely 300 Mercer St). The image was taken from a commissioned painting by artist Martin Hoffman (1935–2013).
In a 2020 interview with American Songwriter, to mark the 40th anniversary of the album, Chris Stein revealed the intended title was “Coca Cola” as it sounded very American, but the Coca-Cola Company said no to the idea.
The band released two singles from this album, “The Tide Is High” and “Rapture”. “The Tide Is High” hit Number One in several countries, including the US and the UK. “Rapture” became the first rap song ever to reach number 1 on the singles chart in the US (it also reached #5 in the UK and #4 in Australia).
Autoamerican was digitally remastered and reissued with two bonus tracks by Chrysalis Records in the UK in 1994 which included the extended 12” Special Disco Mix versions of “Rapture” and its B-side “Live It Up”, from 1981. The album was again remastered and re-released by EMI-Capitol in 2001, again featuring the extended version of “Rapture” along with the full-length version of their number 1 hit “Call Me” (from the film soundtrack to American Gigolo), and also “Suzy & Jeffrey” which was originally the B-side to “The Tide Is High” single.
Blondie is an American rock band co-founded by singer Debbie Harry and guitarist Chris Stein. The band was a pioneer in the American new wave scene of the mid-1970s in New York. Their first two albums contained strong elements of these genres, and although highly successful in the United Kingdom and Australia, Blondie was regarded as an underground band in the United States until the release of Parallel Lines in 1978. Over the next five years, the band achieved several hit singles including “Heart of Glass”, “Call Me”, “Atomic”, “The Tide Is High”, and “Rapture”. The band became noted for its eclectic mix of musical styles, incorporating elements of disco, pop, reggae, and early rap music.
Blondie disbanded after the release of its sixth studio album, The Hunter, in 1982. Debbie Harry continued to pursue a solo career with varied results after taking a few years off to care for partner Chris Stein, who was diagnosed with pemphigus, a rare autoimmune disease of the skin. The band re-formed in 1997, achieving renewed success and a number one single in the United Kingdom with “Maria” in 1999, exactly 20 years after their first UK No. 1 single (“Heart of Glass”).
The group toured and performed throughout the world during the following years, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. Blondie has sold around 40 million records worldwide and is still active. The band’s eleventh studio album, Pollinator, was released on May 5, 2017.
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