Sunday, December 30, 2012

140. Parallel Lines. One way or another

Album: Parallel Lines
Artist: Blondie
Genre: New Wave Rock
Year: 1979


1. Hanging on the Telephone
2. One Way or Another
3. Picture This
4. Fade Away and Radiate
5. Pretty Baby
6. I Know But I Don't Know
7. 11:59
8. Will Anything Happen?
9. Sunday Girl
10. Heart of Glass
11. I'm Gonna Love You Too
12. Just Go Away

It's nice to get a pleasant surprise this late into the countdown. As we progress into the higher reaches  albums that I'm unfamiliar with are becoming increasingly rarer. The list is either dominated by bands or artists that I adore or by albums it's impossible to ignore. While obviously I'd heard of Blondie and can sing a few of their hits, I had never heard an entire album from start to finish. My exposure to Blondie was limited to radio hits, an episode of the muppets and a song a friend of mine used to sing in Karaoke bars in Japan.

Having heard Parallel Lines from start to finish four times I have learnt that:

Blondie are more than just their singles.
Debbie Harry is more than just a pretty face
My friend Lorraine did a surprisingly faithful version of One Way or Another

and finally...

Just because an album is called New Wave doesn't mean it's bad.  Much has been made of New Wave as a genre. Nobody really understands what it really is. The best definition seems to be a Punk Mentality with better musicianship but since nobody can really agree on what constitutes Punk it seems silly to define one genre we don't understand by comparing it to another we don't understand either.

Either way I've heard a lot of New Wave and most of it's pretty bad, mainly because it seems so dated and so obsessed with its own era. Blondie however manage to transcend their limitations by writing really good songs. Hanging on the Telephone, One way or another and Heart of Glass are all fantastic songs. They might have a tag that says New Wave but they're just good rock and roll. If Blondie had given them to The Glimmer Twins so that Keith could beef up the riff and Mick could sleaze over the top they'd be great Rolling Stones songs.

Not that I'm suggesting for a second that Blondie can't do justice to their own material. Harry can sing and the band can play. They can tick all the boxes a good band needs and while the filler tracks on Parallel Lines aren't as good as the singles that's hardly a massive crime, and if it is then it's one most albums on this list are guilty of.

I really enjoyed Parallel Lines. It's a great album by a band with a lot of talent and it manages to transcend its genre to become something more universally accepted and less dated than most albums calling themselves New Wave.

Highlight: Hanging on the Telephone
Lowlight: Sunday Girl

Influenced by: The Clash
Influenced: Pink

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "Fun and irreverent, mildly innovative given the time it was made."

-Mildly innovative. I love that expression. It's not ground-breaking but it's definitely innovative to a degree. Mildly innovative.

So are you happy to travel in parallel lines or would you rather be perpendicular once in a while? Let me know below.

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