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33 at 45: Erasure’s Andy Bell chooses Blondie’s Plastic Letters as a favourite album

Call it conscience, obsession with thoroughness, hating to leave loose ends, stupidity, whatever. But I couldn’t leave the cupid’s arrow of Valentine’s Day unmarked without a post about an album that was internationally released 45 years ago today, and boasts a song — the outfit’s second single, no less — called I’m Always Touched By Your (Presence Dear) written by their just-departed bassist Gary Valentine. 

He goes by his birth name Gary Lachman now, but monikers aside, the album is Plastic Letters, the sophomore set from New York’s finest, Blondie, who just happen to be the most successful American band in the history of the British charts. Like many of Blondie’s best songs, even the album title had double meaning, describing venue marquees and how your name is spelled out on a mugshot.

To celebrate, a little respectful something from Erasure’s Andy Bell* waxing Lycra lyrical.

Already their second studio album, they had scored hit singles with Denis Denis (I first heard that on my Grandad’s window cleaning round) and the sublime I’m Always Touched By Your (Presence Dear), still one of my favourites to this very day.

As a whole album, it sounds like a spy movie soundtrack with Contact In Red Square and Kidnapper. Highlights for me include I’m On E and Love At The Pier. The very definition of late ’70s New York pop art and punk glamour; Deborah Harry, for me, will remain forever the Queen of New Wave.

Steve Pafford is essayist and co-compiler of Blondie‘s 2002 Greatest Hits album 

Reproduced by kind permission of The Quietus

Ironically, when I interviewed Andy Bell myself in 2019, it was a phone as I was in Cuba with Debbie and Blondie. When I told him the news, his fangirl shrieks were as flamboyantly fun as you’d expect, which is detailed here

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