“Atomic” Blondie (Eat To the Beat, 1979)
With one of the most memorable surf-guitar parts in rock n’ roll “Atomic” has always been a song I’ve cherished hearing. In the context of the entire Blondie catalog this one is not as overplayed as “Rapture”, “One Way or Another” or “Heart of Glass” and for that alone I tend to favor it.
From their fourth LP “Eat To the Beat” this was another rock/disco amalgamation but unlike the others wasn’t a big Top 40 (just managing to sneak in when it peaked at #39 on the Billboard chart) hit. I’m not sure why, because listening to this tune it’s got all the classic elements of what made Blondie great. Front and center you’ve got lead singer/sex symbol Debbie Harry singing, you’ve got a great drumming performance out of Clem Burke and the aforementioned guitar work of Chris Stein which makes the hook of the song.
Originally conceived as a “Heart of Glass” type piece, it evolved into a bit of a spaghetti-western motif when the band was working on the track. While not a huge pop hit it was universally lauded on the dance floor and in the UK it did reach #1 for a pair of weeks. Also, when re-released in 1994 it was #1 for ‘Hot Dance Club Play’. Not only that it was featured on the ever-popular video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City where a new generation of fans could ride along killing prostitutes to it’s groovy bass-lines and cooing “your hair is so beautiful…tonight…tonight”. So there’s that :).