[109] Blondie – Parallel Lines

8 May

This is what it sounds like when a punk band has a genuine vocalist.

blondie-109-l

Blondie may not strictly be punk, but listening to this collection of familiar singles and unknown album tracks, I can hear the anger and intensity of punk guiding every spiky guitar stab, every hectic drum fill.  Add Debbie Harry’s crooning and the slick production, Parallel Lines becomes candy-coated and almost universally palatable.

This juxtaposition of the rough with the smooth is the reason for both the success and longevity of these songs.

The singles are hugely catchy pop morsels which straddle the end of Disco and the beginning of New Wave.  Each is tasty and  perfectly formed but there is far more here than just the hits “Sunday Girl”, “Hanging on the Telephone”, “One Way Or Another”, or even the sublime “Heart of Glass”.

It is the deep cuts which catch my ear.

Sometimes familiarity can make you take a band, a song, a sound for granted.  In the case of Blondie, listening to the singles yet again is merely nostalgic comfort.  But  hearing the album tracks for the first time both surprises and reinforces my initial response to the band – there is more in play here than can be seen at first glance.

There are layers upon layers: the straight ahead energy and the almost three-chord simplicity of structure; the nuanced and vaguely laid-back delivery from Harry; the slick and commercial synth-coated production values over it all.  And somehow the layers enhance each other, combining rather than separating the disparate flavors.

Here is the very moment in musical time just before the overproduction of the 80s kicked in.

And “Will Anything Happen” now reigns supreme as my favorite pining-for-an-ex song (knocking off former champ, “Kiss The Bride” by Elton John) which combines just the right amount of nostalgia, desperation and sleaze.

Next Week:  Bloque – Bloque

Owned before blogging? No. (10 of 109 = 9%)
Heard before blogging? No. (16 of 109 = 15%)
Recommend? Yes. (90 of 109 = 83%)

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