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December 26, 2023

Debbie Harry Big Hair for the Album Cover of “The Hunter” (1982)

Portraits of Debbie Harry, from a photo session for the cover artwork of band Blondie’s sixth studio album The Hunter, 1982, photograph by Brian Aris.

After an astonishingly successful run of hit singles and albums matched by international fame, Blondie decided to call it a day after 1980’s initially poorly-received yet adventurous Autoamerican album, which produced two US No. 1 hits.

Determined to end on a high at the same time as having the desire to pursue solo projects, particularly the band’s lead singer and obvious focal point Debbie Harry, it seemed as if Blondie would take great memories of a string of hits with them as they went.

Except – contractual obligations, that most artistically suffocating of terms. Blondie were contractually bound to deliver another new studio album to Chrysalis, and no amount of legal wrangling or attempts to get out of it worked. This might explain the long 18-month gap between Autoamerican and 1982’s swansong The Hunter, the longest gap between any of the original six Blondie albums.

The cover artwork for Blondie’s sixth studio album The Hunter (1982).

The Hunter is the result of fractured recording sessions and forced artistry. Some of the songs sound rushed, and the band sound tired. Some might say that the band went at the material halfheartedly or without much passion, with Harry enjoying solo success with 1981's KooKoo. However, the album is nowhere near the utter disaster that is painted by the press and by some Blondie fans.

It’s the most exotic and experimental of the original Blondie records, a theme extended to the rather tragic cover art, and at times sounds tighter than Autoamerican, which at times sounded as if it was about to be enveloped by its own schizophrenic diversity and experimentation. Blondie had clearly come a long way since their early punk roots in the mid-1970s CBGBs crowd. However, there is no denying that the songs on The Hunter lack the punch and bite of earlier efforts.

“There was a sort of backlash,” said guitarist Chris Stein in a 1982 interview. “I think The Hunter is our best record to date... I know we’ve got some real hit records on this record.” Perhaps that backlash came, as it often does, from overexposure of the group. Blondie were everywhere at the time and in an era where things moved quickly, some of their audience was looking elsewhere for entertainment.

“I think the way we would be most successful is if we just went back and re-recorded the album we did in 1975,” said drummer Clem Burke. “I think if we put that out today, it would be a smash hit success. What we were doing six years ago is just catching up with people. Unfortunately, we’re into another place by now.”


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