Parallel Lines

Parallel Lines

In 1975, Blondie graced the stage nearly every weekend at Manhattan’s grimy CBGB club, trading sets with the Ramones, Talking Heads, and Patti Smith. Uptown, swanky nightclubs like Studio 54 pumped out flashy and flamboyant disco grooves 24/7. By 1978, Blondie brought these two disparate worlds together, landing at the top of the charts for the first time the following year with their euphoric disco romp “Heart of Glass.” While this was the single that established the band’s prowess as pristine pop architects, it only offered a taste of the edgy, playful sounds stretched across their third full-length album, Parallel Lines. During the recording process, Australian producer Mike Chapman’s perfectionist drive reportedly left Debbie Harry in tears and the rest of the members at each other’s throats, but it ultimately tightened up their loose and lively retro-pop and made it forward-thinking—all the way down to their choice covers. Lead track “Hanging on the Telephone” reinterprets L.A. band The Nerves’ jittery rock song as a sleek, fiery come-on, while Buddy Holly’s “I’m Gonna Love You Too” becomes a cheeky bubblegum-pop gem spliced with jagged bass and punk attitude. Their originals are just as sharp, even doomy art-rock cut “Fade Away and Radiate,” which comes gently shaped by King Crimson founder Robert Fripp’s serpentine guitar lines. Every step of the way, the band’s versatility underscores Harry’s multidimensional appeal—as a woman who hunts (“One Way or Another”) as hard as she hurts (“Picture This”)—and she delivers it all with the same intimidating air she holds on the album’s now-iconic cover.

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