Considering what a turkey 1999's No Exit was, a live LP from its tour is a bright idea. Why not reestablish that Blondie was once an awfully good group: a '77 new wave/power pop delight that evolved into one of the few AM Top 40 radio pleasures from 1979-1980, and a most entertaining stage band. Besides, they never released a live record. As it happens, Live surpasses all expectations. Culled from six big 1999 concerts, including the mammoth U.K. Glastonbury festival, the sound is crisp and uncannily consistent, and the mix is spot-on, with Debbie Harry's still-bubbly smart crooning sitting perfectly on the throne of the band's supple, lively playing. Drummer Clem Burke remains the sneaky secret weapon/anchor, his drumming so forceful even the fluffiest tracks come alive with energy. Most of all, the band sounds completely refreshed despite missing two old members. This is sure far from the old band going through the motions and ready to quit, disappearing into a litany of lawsuits around '82, and leaving behind the stale odor of The Hunter to further tarnish their declining memory. Instead, the desire is plain. Live starts like a house of fire, wowing with highly charged, ripping versions of "Dreaming" and their still-smashing cover of the Nerves' "Hanging on the Telephone." Thereafter Blondie refurbishes vintage material with gusto, both the hits and even better misses. The two inspired No Exit cuts, the classic-sounding "Maria" and the ska-fun "Screaming Skin," also fit marvelously. The only reason Live isn't a complete treat is that the band is duty-bound to trot out it's blockbuster, genre-hopping hits from their '80s platinum mass-stardom days when they lost their musical identity. ~ Jack Rabid, Rovi

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