Year 6, Day 24: Blondie – Parallel Lines
- Hanging on the Telephone
- One Way or Another
- Picture This
- Fade Away and Radiate
- Pretty Baby
- I Know but I Don’t Know
- Will Anything Happen?
- Sunday Girl
- Heart of Glass
- I’m Gonna Love You Too
- Just Go Away
About the Album
Parallel Lines is the third studio album from American punk/new wave band, Blondie. The album was recorded June through July of 1978 and released in September of 1978 through Chrysalis Records. The album peaked at number six on the Billboard 200 in 1979 and is certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Single Heart of Glass reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and is certified gold by the RIAA.
Thoughts on the Album
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I have a guilty pleasure of listening to female front bands. It’s not even a guilty pleasure any more because I’m not guilty or ashamed of it. I’m pretty sure, although my memory is a wee bit shaky, that Deborah Harry was one of the first female rock vocalists I ever listened to. More so, it was Blondie.
Deborah Harry is considered to be the godmother and queen of female fronted pop-punk, punk/new wave, and power pop bands. Her voice is incredibly powerful and her charisma combined with her “tough girl” glamour gave way to one of the albums that paved the way for future female fronted pop bands and female artists. 1978’s Parallel Lines from her band Blondie was start-of-the-art pop-rock/pop-punk for the era… and whose formula many successors would emulate and exploit over the following decades.
Parallel Lines is one consistent album with plenty of depth. What is amazing about this album is the band’s ability to utilize different genres and styles of music to form an album that is both consistent and on point. There’s the infectious power pop of Sunday Girl and One Way or Another; the new wave tinged Picture This; and the disco rock inspired Heart of Glass. They also made a cover of The Nerves‘ Hanging on the Telephone which is both equal parts frenetic and melodic. Hanging on the Telephone shows off and highlights Blondie‘s punk roots with it’s sense of urgency. One Way or Another is an anthemic piece of power pop and the beginnings of pop-punk. I don’t believe that getting stalked by someone who’s attracted to you has ever been so, uh, delightfully described before. The aggressive riffs and Harry’s powerful vocals make it a timeless classic that still receives regular airplay on most classic rock or variety FM radio stations.
Sunday Girl may just be Blondie‘s most anthemic song in their catalog. It is both a fan favorite and deservedly so and much like One Way or Another and Heart of Glass, it still receives radio airplay 40 years later. After Sunday Girl is the massive disco/dance rock juggernaut, Heart of Glass. While I can understand how people consider this to the song that Blondie sold out on, but in a way, I can’t. It’s a massive hit that touches on and combines so many different genres of rock. There is a disco/dance rock element, some power pop and pop-punk that makes for an vaccine needed infectiousness. If that bassline doesn’t get you nodding your head alone with it and Deborah Harry‘s vocals singing along with her, I don’t know what to tell you. But in all seriousness, I do see how it can be a cheesy song.
Some closing hits: the following track, I’m Gonna Love You Too marks a return of the aggressive, punk influenced keys and guitars. The final track of the album, Just Go Away is the sister track to One Way or Another. Did I sister track? I meant lyrically the opposite. Whoops, my bad. It’s a good and solid track that isn’t one the same level as One Way or Another, but still features those trademark Blondie guitar riffs, drums, and keys.
Parallel Lines is an iconic album and one that still stands the test of time. It’s style is one that has been emulated and exploited by many artists. Quite of the songs from the album still receive regular radio airplay, 40 years after their release. Parallel Lines changed the face of music heading into the 1980’s as punk would crash and burn and give rise to the new wave movement. Deborah Harry and Blondie set the bar so high with Parallel Lines that I don’t think any artist or band in the new wave/punk genre has even come close to topping it. Parallel Lines is a timeless masterpiece.