By Paul Rigby
Of course Deborah Harry, herself, was the centre of many a teenage boy’s lustful dreamings when Blondie hit the UK pop charts with ‘Denis’ in 1977, the band’s European breakthrough but it quickly sunk into those addled minds that the songs we pretty good too. That realisation was more than confirmed when 1978’s ‘Parallel Lines’ hit the streets. Packed with top quality singles with album-only tracks that could easily have become singles in their own right, ‘Parallel Lines’ was the sound of a band swerving away from the dying new wave and heading into rock/pop. Their best ever album and a landmark album of the punk era, you’d be surprised that it happened at all if you listen to the band’s producer, Mike Chapman, “The only great musician among them was Frankie Infante,” he asserts. “He’s an amazing guitarist. The rest of them were all over the bloody place. Jimmy Destri was a pretty good songwriter, but he wasn’t a great keyboard player. What he did, he did well, and I didn’t ever try to push him beyond that because I knew there wasn’t anything beyond that. Chris Stein was always so stoned, and although Clem Burke had all the right ideas, he had no sense of timing. I mean, he had a lot of ability, but I always felt he was trying too hard, and that’s what I used to tell him. I loved Chris, and I worked very, very hard with him for years and years because I felt he deserved my time. He, to me, was a wonderful, wonderful songwriter, a great songwriter, and he was always so concerned about his playing ability. I’d say to him, ‘Why would you even worry about that when you’re such a great songwriter? You can’t be everything. Let Frankie play those solos.’”
Combining Chapman’s heard-edged, almost dictatorial style of producing, which pushed the band further than they gone before, combined with the broad, ensemble of songwriting: each member contributing superb tracks, the album reached for perfection. Blondie would never get so close again.
Stand-out track: Heart Of Glass
Harry sings this song largely within the upper registers which will mean that your upper midrange and treble performance has to be on top form, clinical systems will be challenged but also the supremely rhythmic nature of the song will carefully examine your speaker’s bass performance and musicality.
Parallel Lines – A Recorded History
1978 LP Chrysalis ZCDL 1192
1980 LP Chrysalis 202 633-270
1983 CD Chrysalis CDP 32 1192 2
1994 CD Chrysalis 0946 3 21192 2 3
1997 LP EMI 7243 8 21459 1 2
2000 LP Simply Vinyl SVLP 239
2001 CD Chrysalis 72435-33599-2-8
2010 CD Upfront UPBLNDE001