OUR WEEKLY SPOTLIGHT ON GREAT ALBUMS
BREAKS YOUR HEART OF GLASS
Every tough, charismatic woman to front a band of boys since 1974 owes a little something to Deborah Harry and her band Blondie, one of the shining lights of what became known as New Wave. A video age group long before the cameras were rolling for most, they were capable of unadulterated weirdness like "Kung Fu Girls" and swooning updates of '60s Phil Spector girl group moves like "(I'm Always Touched By Your) Presence Dear." Blondie was equal measures punk and purring sex kitten (yes, that includes the nattily dressed boys), growling and scratching in a way that made one simultaneously excited and a little wary. Pretty, weird, volatile, rough in the right places, bad in a way that you don't wanna be right and completely committed in every aspect, Blondie babbled with amphetamine confidence and by 1978 the whole world was ready to listen.
This month 30 years ago, Blondie entered The Record Plant in New York City with producer Mike Chapman (Sweet, Suzi Quatro) to lay down their third album in less than two years. Already quite the cause célèbre' in Europe, Blondie set their sights on fully conquering their native land. Two months later they emerged with Parallel Lines, which hit the streets in September of that year. Containing what are now staples of multiple radio formats ("Heart of Glass," "One Way or Another"), gorgeously tweaked experiments ("Fade Away And Radiate"), a glam answer to The Sex Pistols' "Pretty Vacant" ("I Know But I Don't Know") and some truly pure songwriting ("Hanging On The Telephone," "Pretty Baby"), Parallel Lines manages the rare trick of encapsulating its age and transcending it. Because Blondie followed the beat of their own drum, their collective originality and jittery spark have kept this platter fresh for more than 30 years.
While Roxy Music, Siouxsie and the Banshees and other peers from the late '70s get more credit, Blondie has influenced numerous bands, big and small, in the 30 years following this classic. Perhaps it's sullied their rep that they arrived primed for the video age with stylish, trend setting clips to run from day one on MTV. Still, step outside the imagery and slip Parallel Lines on with some headphones. It's killer production, razor sharp playing, gutsy singing and top level songwriting will remind you of Blondie's many icy hot charms.
Parallel Lines Track List:
1. Hanging On The Telephone (Jack Lee)
2. One Way or Another (Nigel Harrison, Deborah Harry)
3. Picture This (Destri, Harry, Stein)
4. Fade Away and Radiate (Stein)
5. Pretty Baby (Harry, Stein)
6. I Know But I Don't Know (Frank Infante)
7. 11:59 (Destri)
8. Will Anything Happen (Jack Lee)
9. Sunday Girl (Stein)
10. Heart of Glass" (Harry, Stein)
11. I'm Gonna Love You Too (Joe B. Mauldin, Norman Petty, Niki Sullivan)
12. Just Go Away" (Harry)
Blondie digs into "One Way or Another" on the Midnight Special. Debby's outfit likely borrowed from Nina Hartley.
Here's the original video for "Hanging On The Telephone." They truly are cooler than most of us inanimate carbon blobs will ever be, huh?