Saturday, 2 June 2018

Blondie - Parallel Lines (1978)

I'm in the phone box it's the one across the hall....


Released September 1978

Recorded at the Record Plant, New York City


1. Hanging On The Telephone
2. One Way Or Another
3. Picture This
4. Fade Away And Radiate
5. Pretty Baby
6. I Know But I Don't Know
7. 11.59
8. Will Anything Happen?
9. Sunday Girl
10. Heart Of Glass
11. I'm Gonna Love You Too
12. Just Go Away                                                

Released in September 1978, only seven months after Plastic Letters, this was the album that everyone remembers Blondie for. It was of those albums that contained multiple hit singles - the power pop of Picture This, the punkier kick-ass rock of Hanging On The Telephone, the disco groove of Heart Of Glass and the melodic radio-friendly singalong pop of Sunday Girl. Added to that, everyone seemed to know One Way Or Another too, or at least they do now.

The other tracks contain some gems too, 11.59 and Pretty Baby are upbeat numbers, while the spooky Fade Away And Radiate had a post-punk mystery about it. The Buddy Holly cover I'm Gonna Love You Too is another “get up, join in” number. Even the lesser-known tracks like I Know But I Don't Know, Will Anything Happen and the tuneful closer, Just Go Away are impressive. Not really a duff track on the album.

The whole album is perfectly created and suited the power pop/new wave trend perfectly. Indeed, it is probably the quintessential power pop album. The band never sounded better on this one, either. Clem Burke’s drums, Jimmy Destri’s keyboard, Chris Stein’s guitar. The blend was perfect for what they were looking to achieve at the time. Later output would reveal limitations, but certainly not here. Apparently, producer Mike Chapman said they had less ability as musicians than any band he had ever worked with and he had to work really hard to get Burke, Destri and Stein to sound remotely competent. He obviously managed it. Bass guitarist Nigel Harrison and guitarist Frank Infante were said by Chapman to be the best of the band’s musicians. The opinions Chapman expressed were possibly a pointer as to why Blondie were generally considered a pretty poor live band. Amazingly, the album was recorded in only six weeks. Also, what is surprising, is that the band all hated each other, apart from lovers Stein and Debbie Harry.

Personally, maybe I have just heard it too many times, but I prefer dipping into Plastic Letters or Eat To The Beat these days.

Below is a clip of Blondie performing Picture This on Top Of The Pops in 1978.