As a founding member of New York’s finest new wave band Blondie, Clem Burke transferred the furious energy of punk and the slinky sounds of new wave to create some of the best rock songs in history.
In the playlist below, we’ve gathered the 10 albums that influenced Clem Burke and led him on the path of musical discovery and inspiration to find himself in the 2006 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Blondie would make their name on a fusion of so many of the street sounds that swelled around them. From the Ramones to Talking Heads, NYC was brimming with creative talent and Blondie with the metronomic dancefloor beat of Clem Burke were a shining light of the scene. The band soon became icons of the era and were heralded as the face of new wave.
The band gained their position through their effortless transfer from downtown to the top of the charts and judging by the albums Burke has selected as the most influential in his life, it’s clear he was consuming the best of the best from the early days.
First up on the list from Golden Mine is the charming harmonies of The Four Seasons who, having come from New Jersey, offered a bit of competition for the British Invasion bands of the time. Burke says: “The production, vocals and musicianship were all fantastic, and what great songs! Once The Beatles showed up, I remember there being endless arguments at school over who were the superior group!” Blondie would even go on to cover the group’s track ‘Big Man in Town’.
Speaking of The Fab Four, the Liverpudlian act had an influence on almost every artist from the sixties onwards, so it’s no surprise that two American-release only LPs have found their way on to Burke’s list. He picks Meet The Beatles and Introducing The Beatles which were both jam-packed with the dandy pop of Lennon, McCartney, Starr and Harrison.
Burke also picked The Beatles’ counterparts on the musical sphere in The Rolling Stones, opting for their LP England’s Newest Hitmakers. An album filled mainly with cover tracks, it offered a new generation of listeners a chance to connect with the Bluesmen of old. Burke remembers: “It opened up my young mind to artists such as Muddy Waters, Buddy Holly and Rufus Thomas. To this day, this might actually be my favourite Rolling Stones LP.”
The entire list does take a rather big shift following the selection of The Velvet Underground & Nico’s eponymous album, which soon sees the dirtier side of the New York streets start to rear its ugly head. Burke has one tied position, unable to decide on which The Stooges record to have on his list — caught between The Stooges and Funhouse — and also finds space for Iggy Pop’s friend and collaborator David Bowie.
Burke says in the feature that Bowie’s The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars: “I quite possibly might have to say that of all the records I’ve mentioned so far, this David Bowie album was for me the most life-changing of all. David, for me, connected the dots and influences to all the things I was listening to at the time.”
The drummer continues to share that one particular concert, Bowie at Carnegie Hall in 1972, not only changed his life but may well have changed some others too: “It turns out that a few of my future CBGB’s cohorts were also in attendance, including Debbie Harry, Chris Stein, Joey Ramone, and, oh yeah, Andy Warhol, too.”
Most of those names would find credits on Burke’s next two selections. Picking the Ramones’ self-titled album, Burke says the punks are the second most influential bands of all time alongside The Beatles saying: “Johnny, Joey, Dee Dee and Tommy changed the whole damn world!” And naturally, there was a final nod to the album that literally changed his life, Blondie’s own Parallel Lines.
He concludes, “On a personal note, this record really did change my life. Although we had some success in Europe with our two previous albums, this is the one that got us to number one in the USA with ‘Heart Of Glass.'”
It concludes a list of albums that would spice up any night on the tiles or otherwise. Filled to the brim with attitude, dripping with energy, with fervent style and distinct dancefloor sensibilities — But considering whose list it is, we should’ve guessed.
Clem Burke’s 10 favourite albums:
- The Four Seasons – Golden Hits
- The Beatles – Meet The Beatles
- The Rolling Stones – England’s Newest Hitmakers
- The Beatles – Introducing The Beatles
- The Who – The Who Sing My Generation
- The Velvet Underground & Nico – The Velvet Underground & Nico
- The Stooges – The Stooges and The Stooges – Fun House (tie)
- David Bowie – The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars
- Ramones – Ramones
- Blondie – Parallel Lines
Below is a perfect playlist of the 10 most influential records in Clem Burke’s life woth Blondie.