"Making Tracks: The Rise of Blondie" is a unique book -- part road diary, part band memoir. Rock biographer Victor Bockris teamed with Debbie Harry and Chris Stein to produce this book, a quirky and enlightening view of Blondie's rise to fame. Good anecdotes, wonderful pictures, and an intimate look into what it was like.
Stein and Harry first give us a glimpse of their early lives and childhoods, and then the events that propelled them to the music biz, including early band stuff (like the Stillettoes). They lived in cold apartments run by very strange people (sometimes smoking even weirder stuff), were saved by the cats, performed in the legendary CBGB's, and swirled around the music scene with the Ramones, Television, the Kinks, and now-extinct punk journalists. Then they hit the big time, jetting across the world and clinging to their rough edges.
Harry and Stein have not a single bad thing to say about their musical peers, only pleasant camaraderie. Harry's quirky wit is an easily-acquired taste; she's straightforward and dryly humorous. The parts that are more clearly Stein are a little less vivid to read. At times it's easy to get lost in the prose and forget which is which, however. What's more, the stories are less focused on the perks of fame than on the day-to-day life in a band.
The only problem is that at times, it's necessary to skip back to figure out who the heck so-and-so is, and what connection he had to Stein and Harry. However, Bockris does an excellent job of slipping in articles and written anecdotes by Harry. While the result gets a little bumpy at times, it's overall a smooth ride through the years.
The pictures are a mix of stylized publicity shots (like the pouty "Punkmate" picture) and candids. The candids are wonderful, ranging from Harry wielding a hammer in Japan to a window riddled with bullet holes to makeup for a Giger-inspired music video (truly eerie). The pictures seem spontaneous and natural, and the grubbiness of some of them gives a better idea of what it was like to live there. (Not to mention posing with the Ramones, Nancy Spungeon, Bill Murray, Joan Jett and others)
"Making Tracks: The Rise of Blondie" is not merely for Blondie fans, but for fans of now-classic rock and good music. Witty and humorous, with dozens of great photographs, this is a treasure.