Parallel Lines

Blondie

album cover

New York Punk Pop for the Ages

Looking at the publicity shots and listening to the first two Blondie albums, it's tempting to dismiss the band as a trend-chasing marketing creation. Singer Debbie Harry and her musicians are accessorized to the nines, trying to at least look like denizens of the New York punk scene that birthed the Talking Heads and the Ramones. Musically, though, they're not nearly as assertive; Blondie sounds like it's a little bit afraid of punk, not sure whether to charge fully into its confrontations.

Those first two albums are warm-ups for Parallel Lines. This time, Blondie blows past the punk trappings in pursuit of a postmodern amalgam of the Dixie Cups and the Ronettes and David Bowie glam. And, oh yes, a crucial visionary pinch of disco (check out the huge single "Heart of Glass"). The singles and the songs that could have been singles filter girl-boy relationship woes into thrilling pop constructs that depended not just on Harry's attitude, but her ability to channel the exuberance of the Phil Spector girl groups (especially on "Picture This"). Though they hit common themes (love as a drag is one), the songs of Parallel Lines each claim their own spots on the spectrum that starts at punk desperation and ends at bubblegum bliss.

Genre: Rock
Released: 1978, Chrysalis
Key Tracks: "Heart of Glass," "Hanging on the Telephone," "Picture This."
Catalog Choice: Blondie
Next Stop: The Runaways: The Runaways
After That: Eurythmics: Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)
Book Page: 99

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