- Incredible sound for this followup to Parallel Lines with both sides earning a Triple Plus (A+++)!
- Turn it up as loud as you want – the top end and vocals are balanced, smooth and tonally correct, not gritty or edgy
- The drums and bass of Die Young Stay Pretty are as real sounding as if you were standing five feet from the band
- 4 1/2 stars on Allmusic:The British… made Eat to the Beat another chart-topper, with three major hits, including a number one ranking for Atomic and almost the same success for Dreaming.
This is Mike Chapman’s Big Beat Sonic Masterpiece — yes, bigger and better than Parallel Lines — akin to the debuts of The Knack and The Cars, and every bit as huge and punchy as either.
Eat to the Beat lives and dies by its energy, its bass and above all by its transient snap. The drums and bass of Die Young Stay Pretty are as real sounding as if you were standing five feet in front of a the band. On the best copies it’s hard to imagine that song sounding any better. The drum and bass are massive in their attack. It’s the very definition of punch.
As expected, if you clean and play enough copies of a standard domestic major label album like this one, as you work through them you will surely stumble upon some that really rock, with the kind of presence, breathy vocals, and punchy drums that make this music come to life in your very own listening room. The best copies were positively swimming in studio ambience, with every instrument occupying its own space in the mix and surrounded by air. There was not a trace of grain, just the silky sweet highs we’ve come to expect from analog done right.
Way back in 2009 we wrote:
Watch for Hot Stampers of the band’s fourth album coming to the site one of these days, later this year I would guess. The best copies have true Demo Disc sound. If you own the record, drop the needel on Die Young, Stay Pretty and turn the volume up as loud as your stereo will play. (Your own personal Turn Up the Volume Test.) If you have a good copy it will ROCK — the sound can be unbelievably dynamic and punchy. We love that Big Rock sound here at Better Records, and the very special Hot Stamper pressings that have it!
And here, years later, is the very pressing that will back up those claims. Turn it up as loud as you want; the top end and vocals are balanced, smooth and tonally correct, not gritty or edgy, so it just keeps getting better the louder you go (within reason of course).
To be fair, consistency is the problem with this album, with some songs being absolute Pop Masterpieces (Dreaming on side one, Die Young Stay Pretty on side two), but other tracks not quite at the level set by Parallel Lines, where every track was a gem of songcraft and Glossy Pure Pop Production.
Still, what’s good is good, and the sound is STUNNING, with real Demo Disc qualities.
The Hardest Part
Union City Blue
Eat to the Beat
Accidents Never Happen
Die Young Stay Pretty
Living in the Real World
…The British… made Eat to the Beat another chart-topper, with three major hits, including a number one ranking for Atomic and almost the same success for Dreaming.
My favourite album
Blondie’s masterpiece is usually held to be 1978’s Parallel Lines, while Eat to the Beat, which followed a year later, is considered an inferior attempt to duplicate its arty/trashy perfection. I can understand why Parallel Lines gets so much love – any album that contains Heart of Glass, Hanging on the Telephone and Sunday Girl is going to rank high in people’s Best Records of All Time list. For me, though, it lacked the special shot of cool downtown decadence that, in my impressionable head, underpinned Eat to the Beat.
I wasn’t really aware of Eat to the Beat until several years after it came out. I discovered it during the summer that I lived on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, on a street populated by drug dealers and new wave scenesters. The area had a sordid glamour that I fancied was a bit like Paris in the 20s, and my preoccupation was how to be part of it. Too geeky to be one of the cool kids, too chicken to actually take drugs, I nonetheless wanted to swap places with one of the heroin-addled Johnny Thunders/Lydia Lunch lookalikes who slouched around the place in studded belts and black hair.
Then I came across Eat to the Beat, which seemed to embody all the nocturnal seediness of their lifestyle. The album, I should explain, wasn’t overtly about sex, drugs or the after-hours clubs where they hung out – in fact, you could’ve mistaken it for a collection of catchy pop songs. (One music site retrospectively dismisses it as mere “corporate rock” – how dare they?) But when you connect with an album, it doesn’t matter so much how it sounds as where you are when you hear it. And I was in my room on East 7th Street, playing Atomic and Die Young, Stay Pretty over and over, wondering how to become a drug addict without taking drugs.
So, for one humid New York summer, it was my soundtrack. The pinging disco of Atomic sounded to me like a monumentally hedonistic rush, The Hardest Part evoked the Italian-American truck drivers who catcalled the new wave girls sidling down 7th Street and Die Young, Stay Pretty’s beginner-level reggae sounded strange and dangerous. Even the delicate lullaby Sound-a-Sleep captured the disorienting feeling of leaving a club at dawn, when the streets were silent and swept clean. Eat to the Beat brilliantly encapsulated all the things that made New York so intoxicating. And it helped that Blondie themselves lived this dark downtown life (or so I thought – in fact, by then, guitarist Chris Stein had contracted a serious illness, and the band soon split up).
I left the album in New York when I moved to London, and haven’t listened to it all the way through in years. The only song I play occasionally now is Atomic. But when I do, I still remember wandering down the streets of the East Village with the album on my Walkman, trying to pass for one of the cool kids.
Caroline Sullivan – The Guardian