Blondie's mind-blowing "Against the Odds" box set includes the fan's Holy Grail of archival songs

We're in a golden age of box sets, and Blondie's does not disappoint

By Kenneth Womack

Contributing Writer

Published August 26, 2022 1:34PM (EDT)

Blondie (Michael Zagaris/Shore Fire Media)
Blondie (Michael Zagaris/Shore Fire Media)

We live in the great age of box sets. Career-spanning retrospectives, classic album deep-dives, state-of-the-art remixes. Repackaged for resale. A dime a dozen. You name it, we've got it. Which is why a compilation like Blondie's "Against the Odds, 1974-1982" gives a listener pause.

As with most box sets, "Against the Odds" arrives in multiple configurations, sporting the usual titles — "Super Deluxe," "Deluxe," et al. But the important takeaway here, as always, is the music. And Blondie's box set absolutely rocks. If you're a completist, I'm delighted to report that the collection includes everything.

Naturally, the band's original studio albums are in evidence, supplemented by 52 rarities and outtakes. Of particular note are the group's breezy, unreleased "Mr. Sightseer" and — as the Holy Grail of Blondie's unreleased archives — a long-rumored cover version of the Doors' "Moonlight Drive." For the latter, Blondie amps up the Doors' bouncy original version with the sizzle and crack of New Wave-era gusto.

If you enjoy geeking out to your favorite bands, "Against the Odds" doesn't disappoint. The Super Deluxe edition weighs in at an incredible 17 pounds, featuring two separate hardcover books — one of which includes Erin Osmon's extensive liner notes, as well as commentary from the band members and essays by Richard Gottehrer and Mike Chapman. A second volume affords listeners with a lavishly illustrated discography.

But the real standouts are the remastered versions of Blondie's first six studio albums, including "Blondie," "Plastic Letters," "Parallel Lines," "Eat to the Beat," "Autoamerican" and "The Hunter." There is a depth and immediacy inherent in the remastered LPs. Casual fans and aficionados alike will revel in the opportunity to embark on an aural journey across the band's career, listening intently as the group refines their sound in advance of pumping out smash hits like "Heart of Glass," "One Way or Another," "Dreaming," "Call Me," "The Tide Is High" and "Rapture."

And what a journey it was, as Blondie eclipsed their genre, crackling with energy and lording over the New Wave era in unforgettable style. Clocking in with a mind-blowing 124 tracks, the box set was remastered by Michael Graves, who retains the band's original sound, while affording their songs with greater separation and definition — an aspect that should be music to the ears of audiophiles the world over.

In a veritable sea of box sets, "Against the Odds" manages to succeed where so many others have fallen short. Chock-full of surprises and extras, the anthology never strays from the reason we all originally tuned in to the ragtag band of New Yorkers in the first place — the music.

Love deep dives into musicians' careers? Listen to Ken's podcast "Everything Fab Four."

By Kenneth Womack

Kenneth Womack is the author of a two-volume biography of the life and work of Beatles producer George Martin and the host of "Everything Fab Four," a podcast about the Beatles distributed by Salon. He is also the author of "Solid State: The Story of Abbey Road and the End of the Beatles," published in 2019 in celebration of the album’s 50th anniversary, "John Lennon, 1980: The Last Days in the Life" and the authorized biography "Living the Beatles Legend: The Untold Story of Mal Evans" (November 2023).  Womack is Professor of English and Popular Music at Monmouth University.

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Blondie Box Set Music Review