Although it boasted a great, Manhattan-centric album cover (see above) and featured the sprawling proto-hip-hop-crossover opus "Rapture," Autoamerican was never my favorite Blondie album. While I'd loved both Eat to the Beat and Parallel Lines that preceded it, I kinda felt that the rot had set in by this record (although they'd soldier on for one more, 1982's universally-reviled The Hunter, before pulling the plug). I never really warmed to the the ersatz-reggae trot of "The Tide is High" (a cover of a song by Jamaican ska band, The Paragons) replete with sickly strings and cheeseball horns. It lacked all the urgency that made earlier Blondie tunes so compelling. Hell, my step-father even liked it (this was never a good sign). It was just flaccid and flabby, to my ears.
Thirty years (!!!) later, I still don't really like it, but I stumbled upon this video this afternoon on YouTube and found it to be somewhat entertaining. Sure, there's a ridiculously flimsy narrative about traveling to space to seduce a pining Darth Vader character (or something), some deplorably un-special effects and some heroically undercooked lip-synching by lovely Deborah Harry (shame about those bangs, though), but what really caught my eye about this clip were the fleeting shots of Soho street corners -- specifically, I think, the northeast corner of Mercer and Broome streets. Suffice to say, that little cross-section of streets looks dramatically different today. Also keep your eyes peeled for cameos by fellow "Downtown 81" co-stars Glen O'Brien, Fab Five Freddie and fiddle-sawing Walter Steding (complete with ridiculous flashing sunglasses).