Parallel Lines (Chrysalis ‘78) Rating: A

What most people remember about Blondie was their charismatic knockout of a lead singer (many people thought that Debbie Harry was Blondie) and a handful of durable, radio ready hit singles. What some people forget was that this was once a second tier CBGB’s band who paid their dues in that dimly lit but fondly remembered dump. The fact that Blondie became the most commercially successful of any the great bands that emerged from that scene (Television, Talking Heads, Ramones, Patti Smith, etc.) must have greatly surprised anyone who saw their early stage performances, which were hardly promising. The band kept getting better, though, making some good albums and one great one. This is the one to get (even the album cover photo is iconic). Produced by Mike Chapman, he lends his bubblegum pop credentials to some marvelously delectable melodies and choruses, some of which echo the timeless appeal of ’60s girl groups (especially “Pretty Baby” and “Sunday Girl” – both wonderful). The fast, catchy rocker “One Way Or Another” and the atypical disco ditty “Heart Of Glass” were the big hits, and both are admittedly great (in completely different ways), but the entire album delivers consistently excellent fun. Other high points include the classic Nerves cover “Hanging On The Telephone” (a tight, terrific rocker), the ultra-melodic “Picture This,” the atmospheric, dirge-like “Fade Away and Radiate” (featuring Robert Fripp on guitar, I wouldn't be surprised if this song influenced any number of female-fronted '90s rock bands), the gorgeously wistful and melodic “11:59” (p.s. love the keyboard solo)the little girl vocals and pure pop ambitions of “Sunday Girl,” and "Will Anything Happen?," another great rocker. The Spin Alternative Record Guide aptly described Blondie as “punk’s first pop crossover,” and Parallel Lines was and is one of the definitive new wave recordings.

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