Fourculture Classics #eight – Parallel Lines

1978 – seemingly a 12 months of countless creativity and chance with so many cool bands releasing albums.  If we think about there have been nonetheless music snobs again then who had been tribal and protecting over their very own private favourites, then it's seemingly that regardless of these attitudes, most would have agreed that Blondie had been ‘alright’.

The single “Denis”, launched earlier within the 12 months (from the Plastic Letters album) reached quantity 2 within the UK chart and was a type of Top of the Pops appearances that basically would have made an affect on the time.  Women tended solely to be on the present as a part of the dance troupe Pan’s People however right here was a feminine as a gang chief of a male band who appealed to each sexes.  Gosh!

Fourculture Classics #8 – Parallel LinesOf course, I witnessed none of this occurring on the time nevertheless it was the female-led gang on the quilt of Parallel Lines that caught my consideration as a younger boy about seven years later.  The contrasting black and white, the smiling males, the strict wanting girl.  This stood out amongst my mother or father’s vinyl assortment which was a sea of uncool Americana, overblown guitar twiddleshit and Cliff Richard.

I wouldn’t have observed the unusual sartorial combo of fits with baseball sneakers on the time however I did discover Debbie Harry’s angle.  She was no smiley youngsters’s TV presenter.  Her growl was current from the primary music.  There was no sweetness in a lady who would get your telephone and ‘ring it off the wall’.  I'd by no means dare to go away her hanging on the phone and I used to be certain that males twenty years older than me would ‘grasp up and run to’ her simply because she informed them to.

It’s price mentioning that “Hanging on the Telephone” was a Top 5 hit (UK) because it’s typically forgotten when you think about the album additionally spawned two quantity ones.  It’s an excellent opener.

“One Way or Another” got here subsequent and was one other attitude-laden stomp.  It’s arduous to take heed to it severely now if you recollect it was additionally carried out on The Muppet Show.  Analysing the lyrics as a boy I realized the deserves of phrases like ‘gonna’ within the pop vernacular.  Blondie took it additional right here with snappy ‘getcha’ and ‘meetcha’ merges.  I nonetheless love how the music and vocal appear to change into one within the bridges – ‘I’ll see who’s arouuuund’ and ‘who’s hanging ooooouuuut’ mix in with the music, the ultimate syllable and synth sound growl collectively as one.  At the important thing change her voice turns into raspier, arduous to think about a vocalist doing this in the present day within the digital autotune age.

“Picture This” sounds prefer it may have been from a sure late 70s movie musical.  The opening line, (‘All I would like is a room with a view’) sounds wistfully cinematic…you possibly can see her staring exterior with frustration.  But being Debbie Harry this isn’t some pathetic needy show.  She is aware of what she desires and she or he has some high-quality couplets to let you know about it and you possibly can have had it if it weren’t on your job on the storage.  Again, it’s price mentioning that Debbie Harry is not any actual singer however the imperfection in her voice provides to the realism and feelings of the songs.

“Fade Away and Radiate” just isn't a music typically remembered and the least pop thus far.  The dramatic opening could make you leap and the music goes by means of prog-like transitions, a Brian May type guitar solo, after which a cod-reggae wig out for the final 30 seconds.  Impressive.

The sonic diversion doesn’t final for lengthy although as “Pretty Baby” is pure pop.  It begins off like a sped up‘ “Rip Her to Shreds” earlier than slowing all the way down to an intro.  On this music the refrain is definitely the verse which implies there may be nowhere to go however up. The cool spoken phrase intermission remembers the likes of The Shangri-Las, a tactic they first adopted on the intro to “X Offender” on their debut album.  It has such a strong finale, her vocal vary examined to the restrict earlier than paving the way in which for facet nearer “I do know however I don’t know” which is a repetitive enjoyable groove and nearly stays on the best facet of throwaway.

I at all times assume “11:59” is a superb music nevertheless it appeared extra highly effective years in the past.  It actually has the urgency you’d anticipate for a music about watching the clock and hoping to remain alive.  Like “Union City Blue” being one of many higher songs on Eat To The Beat regardless of being surrounded by higher singles, 11:59 has the identical points on Parallel Lines.  Ask somebody to call 10 Blondie songs and so they most likely wouldn’t decide this one nevertheless it should be up there with their greatest.  Another music recalling the girlgroup, Motown period with out actually sounding like a pastiche.  I’d just like the organ and drum outro to go on for a lot longer.

“Will Anything Happen?” continues with the urgency, a stop-start stomper.  Her double tracked vocal is extra distinguished right here and also you marvel if she may have milked this sound extra.

This music and the ultimate two songs undergo a bit of on facet B as a result of pop behemoths at its centrepiece…

“Sunday Girl” and “Heart of Glass”, effectively what can I say about these?  “Sunday Girl” could sound twee and doubtless overplayed nevertheless it’s an unimaginable melody.  The album model fortunately doesn’t have the French verses tacked on like among the inclusions on later compilations did.

“Heart of Glass” sees them delve into new territory, the disco components take them to the dancefloor, the pulsing synth and understated funky guitar.  The double-tracked concord within the refrain is lush.  Not a second is wasted on this music, solo breaks don’t overstay their welcome.  Unlike “Sunday Girl” this isn’t the radio edit, coming in at just below 6 minutes nevertheless it looks like a type of 12” variations of a single moderately than an overblown album observe.

Parallel Lines just isn't an ideal album.  Yet, like many classics, the imperfections and flaws add to the appeal.  It is of its time however straightforward to take heed to and respect 40 years on.