Parallel Lines by Blondie

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Parallel Lines by Blondie
Parallel Lines by Blondie

Album Released: 1978

Parallel Lines ::: Artwork

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1.Hanging On The Telephone2:17
2.One Way Or Another3:31
3.Picture This2:53
4.Fade Away And Radiate3:57
5.Pretty Baby3:16
6.I Know But I Don't Know3:53
8.Will Anything Happen?2:55
9.Sunday Girl3:01
10.Heart Of Glass3:54
11.I'm Gonna Love You Too2:03
12.Just Go Away3:21


Given media representations of Blondie as being kinda punky and New Wave, I was surprised how lightweight and bland the material on this album actually is.

Then I noticed it was produced by Mike Chapman, the fellow behind the sound of artists like Sweet, Suzie Quatro, Mud, Smokie, and Racey ... all kiddie-pop bands really. Chapman then moved on to produce The Knack and Blondie. The Knack were distinctly powerpop of course, and the band image on the sleeve of Blondie's Parallel Lines similarly conforms to the powerpop dress-code of dark suits and narrow ties.

Musically, this is throwaway 70's pop with just a few tracks endowed with a slight 'New Wave' sensibility. The main attraction is the 4-star disco-lite of "Heart of Glass" ... everything else is either second-rate follow-up singles, or filler and B-sides.

I suppose this may've seemed pretty good back in the late 70's, what with allmusic giving it 5 stars, and Spin Mag a 10 out of 10, but to me this album sounds closer to clunky than punky, and hasn't aged at all well.

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by Reviewer: bluemoon

You know, sometimes I think this might be the greatest pure pop album of all time - then I remember The Beatles once existed.

So alright then, this is the greatest 'Mega-hit Blockbuster' album of all time, the type from which half the songs were huge hits, and this album was heard everywhere for about a year and a half. It puts Thriller, Rumours, Purple Rain, Born in the USA, and er - Hysteria, all in their place. Practically a Greatest Hits album of all-new material, the half of these songs that weren't hits could just as easily have been, if there wasn't some limit to hits-per-album.

Where in the world to begin? Okay, howsabout the beginning - the telephone ring setting the listener up for the powerful rocker "Hanging On The Telephone" - when Debbie Harry trills I can't control myself - any heterosexual male whose libido doesn't shoot up ... well. On the next cut, "One Way Or Another", Harry pushes her newfound agressive sexuality to the limit by chattering in the voice of what we'd now refer to as a stalker - and when the lights are all down I will drive by your house - as if she ever needed to stalk any man.

As a bleached blonde who grew up idolizing Marilyn Monroe, Harry coldly emotes "Fade Away (and Radiate)" with utmost sincerity and detachment, in a tale of fan worship and blurring of reality. Harry makes a midnight curfew sound like a life or death matter (literally: it's 11:59 and I want to stay alive), Chris Stein growls that he's your dog but not your pet, the mix brings Burke's powerful drumming to the fore, and producer Mike Chapman reins the band in for a tight bright, shiny explosive powerhouse of sound that's relentlessly accomplished and professional, and for once all the better for it.

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by Reviewer: Creative Noise (blogging at Creative Noise)

After Plastic Letters, Blondie's Parallel Lines is like a senior thesis, one that uses well-appointed style, songwriting hooks, and Harry's variable vocals to bring the band's interests to a new height.

Some credit must go to the continued emphasis on guitars, aided by two new band members - guitarist Frank Infante, and bassist Nigel Harrison. While none of the guitar solos warrant being etched in stone, Blondie riff their way to success with "One Way or Another", and by using rhythms and wordless singing on "Heart of Glass".

Blondie's New Wave pop songs now have enough propulsion and edge to make them great, as demonstrated with "Hanging on the Telephone", "Pretty Baby", and "Picture This", else by using subtly obsessive lyrics of "One Way or Another", or the cinematic vision of "11:59". The most well-known track though is "Heart of Glass", a glossy disco song delivered via Harry's smooth and winking voice.

The album isn't all confection, or a culmination of previous ideas. The fascinating "Fade Away and Radiate" is a deep breath in the middle of the album, with an icy Pere Ubu-like intro and guitar from Robert Fripp, where Harry delivers one of her more dramatic performances.

Whilst some other parts of the album are weaker, such as the retro 50's/60's approach of "Sunday Girl" and "I'm Gonna Love You Too", and the intentionally self-mocking hip rock tracks "I Know But I Don't Know" and "Just Go Away", overall Parallel Lines is a body of songs with all the right parts.

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by Reviewer: Obscurity (blogging at Obscurity!)

The way Blondie went from being a weirdo underground band performing speeded-up sloppy versions of old 60's pop songs in 1976, to the incredibly immaculate pop/rock superstars of 1978 is the stuff of legend. What's more, they even released the stellar Plastic Letters inbetween, an album that was leaning toward art/rock.

One thing about Blondie was that they always liked to try new things, so there’s once again quite a bit of diversity on Parallel Lines - there's New Wave, 50's dance, punk, ballads, even disco.

Yup, this is the album that includes the straight-up disco of “Heart of Glass”, probably the last thing anyone was expecting Blondie to do, considering everyone calls Blondie the 'Godfathers of New Wave'. After all, New Wave in part came about because disco sucked so much! So recording a disco number at the height of New Wave's popularity was a curious move.

But all is forgiven, because “Heart of Glass” is so darned good - the ultra-cliched disco groove has never sounded so exuberant, the melody is uncommonly infectious, and Debbie Harry sings just like a white diva should sing - in a very high register - with a crapload of personality in her voice. In fact, if “Heart of Glass” isn’t the best disco song ever written, it’s very close.

Parallel Lines is also the album with the incredible hit “One Way or Another”. Another reason why I love Blondie is that all their big hits also happen to be their best songs - who else could I say that about? Anyway, that song exhibits Harry's classic mean-girl snarl, and the incredible gruff riff is something that’s going to stick in my mind for eternity.

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by Reviewer: Don Ignacio (blogging at Don Ignacio's Album Reviews)