Parallel Lines is the third studio album by the American rock band
Blondie . It was released in September 1978 by Chrysalis Records
to international commercial success. The album reached number 1
in the United Kingdom in February 1979 and proved to be the
band's commercial breakthrough in the United States, where it
reached number 6 in April 1979. As of 2008, the album had sold
over 20 million copies worldwide.
In February 1978, Blondie released their second studio album
Plastic Letters. It was their last album produced by Richard
Gottehrer whose sound had formed the basis of Blondie's new
wave and punk output. During a tour of the west coast of the US in
support of Plastic Letters, Blondie encountered Australian
producer Mike Chapman in California. Peter Leeds, Blondie's
manager, conspired with Chrysalis Records to encourage
Chapman to work with Blondie on new music. Drummer Clem
Burke recalls feeling enthusiastic about the proposition, believing
Chapman could create innovative and eclectic records. However,
lead vocalist Debbie Harry was far less enthusiastic about
Chapman's involvement as she only knew him by reputation;
according to Chapman, her animosity towards him was because
"they were New York. He was L.A.". Harry's cautiousness abated
after she played Chapmans early cuts of "Heart of Glass" and
"Sunday Girl" and was impressed.
In June 1978 the band entered the Record Plant in New York to
record their third album, and first with Chapman. However,
Chapman found the band difficult to work with, remembering them
as the worst band he ever worked with in terms of musical ability.
Although praising Frank Infante as "an amazing guitarist", sessions
with Chris Stein were hampered by him being stoned during recording and Chapman
encouraged him to write songs rather than play guitar. Similarly, according to Chapman, Jimmy
Destri would prove himself to be far better at songwriting than as a keyboardist and Clem Burke
had poor timing playing drums. As a result, Chapman spent time improving the band, especially
with Stein who Chapman spent hours with rerecording his parts to ensure they were right.
Bassist Nigel Harrison became so frustrated with Chapman's drive for perfectionism that he
threw a $50,000 synthesizer at him during recording. Chapman recalls the atmosphere at the
Record Plant in an interview for Sound on Sound:
The Blondies were tough in the studio, real tough. None of them liked each other, except Chris and Debbie , and there was so much animosity. They were really, really juvenile in their approach to life—a classic New York underground rock band—and they didn't give a fuck about anything. They just wanted to have fun and didn't want to work too hard getting it.
Mike Chapman took an unorthodox approach when recording with Harry who he describes as "a great singer and a great vocal stylist, with a beautifully identifiable voice. However, also very moody". Chapman was far more cautious of demanding much from Harry as he saw her as a highly emotional person who would vest these emotions in the songs they made. He remembers Harry
disappearing into the bathroom in tears for several hours during recording. During a day of recording, Harry sang two lead parts and some harmonies, less work than she did so previously with Gottehrer. This was due to Chapman encouraging her to be cautious about the way she sang, particularly to recognize phrasing, timing and attitude.
"TITTER YE NOT"
Why can't a blonde dial 911?
She can't find the
A guy took his blonde girlfriend to her first
football game. They had great seats right behind
their team's bench. After
the game, he asked her
how she liked the experience. "Oh, I really
liked it," she replied, "especially the tight pants and all the big muscles, but I just couldn't understand why they were killing each other over 25 cents."
Dumbfounded, her date asked, "What do you
"Well, they flipped a coin, one team got it, and then for the rest of the game, all they kept screaming was, 'Get the quarterback! Get the quarterback!' I'm like, hello? It's only 25 cents!"
A guy was driving in a car with a blonde. He told her to stick her head out the window and see if the blinker worked.
She stuck her head out
"Yes, No, Yes, No, Yes..."
Did you hear about the blonde that got excited?
She finished a jigsaw
puzzle in six months,
when the box said, "two to four years."
Blondie recorded Parallel Lines in six weeks, despite being given six months by Terry Ellis, co-founder of Chrysalis Records, to do so. A traditional set-up was used and Chapman fitted Neumann microphones to the toms, snare and hi-hat, as well as several above the site. When recording, Chapman would start with the basic track, which was difficult to record at the time by way of "pencil erasing". Chapman explained in an interview for Sound on Sound , "that meant using a pencil to hold the tape away from the head and erasing up to the kick drum. If a bass part was ahead of the kick, you could erase it so that it sounded like it was on top of the kick. That's very easy to do these days, but back then it was quite a procedure just to get the bottom end sounding nice and tight."
A DI/amp method was used to record Harrison's bass and Destri's synthesizer, while Shure SM57 and AKG 414 microphones were used to capture Infante's Les Paul guitar.
After the basic track was complete, Chapman would record lead and backing vocals with Harry. However, this process was
hampered by many songs not being written in time for the vocals to be recorded. "Sunday Girl", " Picture This " and "One Way Or Another" were all unfinished during the rehearsals of Parallel Lines. When recording vocal parts, Chapman remembers asking Harry if she was ready to sing, only for her to reply "Yeah, just a minute" as she was still writing lyrics down. Chapman notes that many "classic" songs from the album were created this way.
During the last session at the Record Plant, the band were asleep on the floor only to be awakened at six o'clock in the morning by Mike Chapman and his engineer Peter Coleman leaving for Los Angeles with the tape tracks. Despite Blondie's belief that Parallel Lines would resonate with a wider audience, Chrysalis Records were not as enthusiastic and label executives told them to start again, only to be dissuaded by Chapman's assurance that its singles would prove popular.
Parallel Lines took its name from an unused track written by Harry, the lyrics of which were included in the first vinyl edition of the album. The cover sleeve image was photographed by Edo Bertoglio and was chosen by Blondie's manager, Peter Leeds, despite being rejected by the band. The photo shows the band posing in matching dress suits and smiling broadly in contrast to Harry who poses defiantly with her hands on her hips while wearing a white dress.
According to music journalist Robert Christgau, Parallel Lines was pop rock album in which Blondie achieved their "synthesis of the Dixie Cups and the Electric Prunes". Its style of "state-of-the-art pop/rock circa 1978", as All Music's William Ruhlmann described it, showed Blondie deviating from new wave and emerging as "a pure pop band." Ken Tucker believed the band had eschewed the "brooding artiness" of their previous albums for more hooks and pop-oriented songs. Chapman later said, "I didn't make a punk
album or a New Wave album with Blondie. I made a pop album." The album's eleven pop songs have refined melodics, and its sole
disco song, "Heart of Glass", features jittery keyboards, rustling cymbals by drummer Clem Burke, and a circular rhythm. Burke credited Kraftwerk and the soundtrack to the film Saturday Night Fever as influences for the song and said that he was "trying to get that groove that the drummer for the Bee Gees had".
Lyrically, Parallel Lines abandoned what Rolling Stone magazine's Arion Berger
called the "cartoonish postmodernist referencing" of Blondie's previous new wave
songs in favor of a "romantic fatalism" that was new for the band. "Sunday Girl"
deals with the theme of teen loneliness, while " Fade Away and Radiate " is about
falling in love with dead movie stars. On the latter song, Debbie Harry, who day
dreamed as a child that Marilyn Monroe was her birth mother, compares a flickering
image on screen to the light of a dying sun. Music critic Rob Sheffield said that the
lyric "dusty frames that still arrive / die in 1955" is the "best lyric in any rock'n'roll
song, ever, and it's still the ultimate statement of a band that always found some
pleasure worth exploiting in the flashy and the temporary."
Parallel Lines became an international success when it was released in September
1978 by Chrysalis Records. In a contemporary review for The Village Voice,
Christgau said although Blondie still could not write a perfect hit single, the record
was a consistent improvement over Plastic Letters. He wrote in retrospect for
Blender that it was "a perfect album in 1978" and remained so with "every song
memorable, distinct, well-shaped and over before you get antsy. Never again did
singer Deborah Harry, mastermind Chris Stein and their able four-man cohort nail the band's signature paradoxes with such
lowbrow class, tender sarcasm, pop rock." Darryl Easlea from BBC, who felt there cord combined power pop and new wave styles, credited Mike Chapman's production and flair for pop songwriting for helping make Parallel Lines an extremely popular album in the United Kingdom, where it was a number-one hit and charted for 106 weeks during the late 1970s. Q magazine called the album" a crossover smash with sparkling guitar sounds, terrific hooks and middle-eights more memorable than some groups' choruses."
In a review of post-punk albums from the 1970s, Spin magazine's Sasha Frere-Jones said Parallel Lines may have been "the
perfect pop-rock record" and Blondie's best album, while Christian John Wikane from Pop Matters called it "a creative and commercial masterpiece by Blondie ... indisputably one of the great, classic albums of the rock and roll era." In the opinion of Pitchfork Media critic Scott Plagenhoef, the album popularized "the look and sound of 1980s new wave" with classic songs that showcased the depth and complexity of Harry's sexuality and singing. Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine was also impressed by her singing, which he felt varied from "purring like a kitten and then building to a mean growl", and cited "Heart of Glass" as the album's best track because of her "honey-dipped vocal".
Parallel Lines was ranked at number 140 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, number 18 and 45 on NME's 100 Best Albums of All Time and 500 Greatest Albums of All Time respectively, and number 7 on Blender's 100 Greatest American Albums of All Time. Rolling Stone wrote that the album was "where punk and New Wave broke through to a
mass U.S. audience". The album was also ranked at number 94 by Channel 4's list of 100 greatest albums of all time.
Parallel Lines contains several of Blondie's best-known hits, including
"Heart of Glass", " Hanging on the Telephone ", "Sunday Girl" and
"One Way or Another". Six of the twelve tracks were issued as singles,
either in the US or the UK. It is notable that the original album version
of "Heart of Glass" was replaced with the longer disco version on
pressings of the album released as of March 1979. However, the
original surfaced on some later reissue editions.
The album was reissued and remastered in 2001 along with Blondie's
back catalog and featured four bonus tracks:
a 1978 demo of "Heart of
Glass", live cover of T. Rex's song " Bang a Gong (Get It On)" and two
live tracks taken from Picture This Live live album.
On June 24, 2008, an expanded 30th Anniversary Edition of the album
was released, which featured new artwork and bonus tracks along with
bonus DVD. The liner notes once again featured lyrics to the
unfinished "Parallel Lines" song. The Parallel Lines 30th Anniversary
Edition included the 7" single version of "Heart of Glass", which was
featured on the original pressing of the album, the French version of
" Sunday Girl " and some remixes, plus a DVD with albums, promo
videos and TV performance.
The band also launched a world tour of the same name to promote the re-release and celebrate the event.
The album version of " Heart of Glass " was replaced with the disco version (5:50 minutes long) on pressings of the album released
as of March 1979. The original length version of "Heart Of Glass" appeared on the original US CD release in 1985 Chrysalis VK 41192 [later F2 21192] although the CD artwork proclaimed it was 'Disco Version'. Later editions of the Capitol disc had the mistake removed from the inlay but it remained on the disc until its deletion. 1994 DCC Compact Classics Gold CD release [Capitol Special Markets USA] GSZ 1062 features original version (3.45) with 5'50 version as a bonus track – this edition also featured booklet with full song lyrics. Chrysalis through EMI/Toshiba in Japan issued Parallel Lines with a mini LP card sleeve in 2006 - notable for its reproduction inner sleeve complete with lyrics and Chrysalis Records label on the actual disc.
A promotional CD of the album was given away free with the British newspaper The Mail on Sunday on 5 December 2010,
including the bonus tracks "What I Heard" and "Girlie Girlie" from the band's 2011 album Panic of Girls.
Deborah Ann "Debbie" Harry (born July 1, 1945) is an American singer-songwriter and actress, best known as the lead singer of the new wave and punk rock band Blondie. She recorded several worldwide number one singles with Blondie during the 1970s and 1980s. She is sometimes considered the first rapper to chart at number one in the United States due to her work on "Rapture". She has also had success (mainly in Europe) as a solo artist before reforming Blondie in the late 1990s. Her acting career spans over 60 film roles and numerous television appearances
Christopher "Chris" Stein (born January 5, 1950) is the co-founder and guitarist of the new wave band, Blondie. He is also a producer and performer for the classic soundtrack of the hip hop film, Wild Style, and writer of the soundtrack for the film Union City.
An acclaimed photographer, Stein has taken thousands of images documenting the early New York City punk music scene, the
visual allure of Debbie Harry and Blondie, and his collaborations with artistic luminaries including Andy Warhol and H.R. Giger.
Stein's photography was published most recently in September 2014 by Rizzoli International in his book, Chris Stein Negative:
Me, Blondie, and the Advent of Punk.
PICTURE THIS - BLONDIE
"Picture This" is a song by the American rock band Blondie. It was released in 1978 as the first single from their third album Parallel Lines. It reached number 12 in the UK music charts , giving Blondie their third UK Top 20 hit. It also charted in various other countries
but was not issued as a single in the US.
"Picture This" was written by Chris Stein, Debbie Harry and Jimmy Destri. Debbie Harry wrote the lyrics while Destri and Stein each wrote portions of the music. The B-side of the single, "Fade Away And Radiate", featured Robert Fripp on guitar and was also included international version of the band's first 'greatest hits' compilation The Best of Blondie, released in October 1981.
Music critic Arion Berger of Rolling Stone called "Picture This" "the tenderest new wave love song put to vinyl".A music video was produced to promote the single featuring a straight performance by the band and Debbie Harry wearing a yellow dress designed by Stephen Sprouse.