Parallel Lines

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Parallel Lines
Studio album by Blondie
Released September 1978
Recorded June–July 1978, Record Plant, New York City, New York
Genre Pop rock
Length 39:06
Label Chrysalis
Producer Mike Chapman
Blondie chronology
Plastic Letters
Parallel Lines
Eat to the Beat
Singles from Parallel Lines
  1. "Picture This"
    Released: August 26, 1978
  2. "I'm Gonna Love You Too"
    Released: September 1978
  3. "Hanging on the Telephone"
    Released: October 30, 1978
  4. "Heart of Glass"
    Released: January 3, 1979
  5. "Sunday Girl"
    Released: May 1979
  6. "One Way or Another"
    Released: 1979

Parallel Lines is the third studio album by American new wave band Blondie, released in September 1978 by Chrysalis Records. The album reached #1 in the United Kingdom in February 1979 and proved to be the band's commercial breakthrough in the United States, where it reached #6 in April 1979. As of 2008, the album had sold over 20 million copies worldwide.[1]

Background and recording[edit]

Parallel Lines was the first in a series of Blondie albums to be produced by Mike Chapman who they met during a tour in 1977.[2] In contrast to Richard Gottehrer, who produced the band's first two albums with a more casual approach, Mike Chapman was a perfectionist who drove Blondie to do perfect timing and basic tracks, to double or triple their parts, doing and redoing them multiple time as the occasion demanded.[3][4] It was also the first album produced by Chapman that he did not contribute any songs to.[5]

The name of the album comes from an unfinished Blondie song about communication, characterisation and eventual meeting of different influences.[3][6] The lyrics for the song were listed in the liner notes for the album's first vinyl edition. Another unreleased song from the album sessions, "Underground Girl", was later issued on the compilation album Blonde and Beyond.[citation needed]

Music and lyrics[edit]

Music critic Robert Christgau called Parallel Lines a pop rock album in which Blondie achieved their "synthesis of the Dixie Cups and the Electric Prunes".[7] According to Allmusic's William Ruhlmann, the album's "state-of-the-art pop/rock circa 1978" showed Blondie deviating from new wave and emerging as "a pure pop band."[8] Music journalist Ken Tucker said that they eschewed the "brooding artiness" of their previous albums for more hooks and pop-oriented songs.[9] Mike Chapman remarked on its music at the time: "I didn't make a punk album or a New Wave album with Blondie. I made a pop album."[10] The album's eleven pop songs have refined melodics, and its sole disco song "Heart of Glass" has jittery keyboards, rustling cymbals by drummer Clem Burke, and a circular rhythm.[11] Burke credited Kraftwerk and the soundtrack to the film Saturday Night Fever as influences for the song and said that he was "trying to get that groove that the drummer for the Bee Gees had".[12]

According to Rolling Stone magazine's Arion Berger, Parallel Lines eschewed "cartoonish postmodernist referencing" of Blondie's previous new wave songs for a "romantic fatalism" that was new for the band.[11] "Sunday Girl" deals with the theme of teen loneliness, while "Fade Away and Radiate" is about falling in love with dead movie stars. On the latter song, Debbie Harry, who daydreamed as a child that Marilyn Monroe was her birth mother, compares a flickering image onscreen to the light of a dying sun. Music critic Rob Sheffield said that the lyric "dusty frames that still arrive / die in 1955" is the "best lyric in any rock'n'roll song, ever, and it's still the ultimate statement of a band that always found some pleasure worth exploiting in the flashy and the temporary."[13]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[8]
Blender 4.5/5 stars[14]
Robert Christgau A[7]
Entertainment Weekly B[15]
Pitchfork Media 9.7/10[16]
Q 4/5 stars[17]
Rolling Stone 4.5/5 stars[11]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4.5/5 stars[18]
Slant Magazine 4.5/5 stars[19]

In a retrospective review for Blender magazine, Robert Christgau said that Parallel Lines was "a perfect album in 1978" and remains so with "every song memorable, distinct, well-shaped and over before you get antsy. Never again did singer Deborah Harry, mastermind Chris Stein and their able four-man cohort nail the band's signature paradoxes with such unfailing flair: lowbrow class, tender sarcasm, pop rock."[14] Q magazine called the album "a crossover smash with sparkling guitar sounds, terrific hooks and middle-eights more memorable than some groups' choruses."[17] Christian John Wikane of PopMatters called it "a creative and commercial masterpiece by Blondie" and "indisputably one of the great, classic albums of the rock and roll era."[20] Sasha Frere-Jones, writing in Spin, said that it may have been "the perfect pop-rock record".[21] Pitchfork Media's Scott Plagenhoef credited the album for popularizing "the look and sound of 1980s new wave".[16]

Parallel Lines was ranked at number 140 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time,[12] number 18 and 45 on NME's 100 Best Albums of All Time[22] and 500 Greatest Albums of All Time[23][24] respectively, and number 7 on Blender's 100 Greatest American Albums of All Time.[25] Rolling Stone wrote that the album was "where punk and New Wave broke through to a mass U.S. audience".[12] The album was also ranked at number 94 by Channel 4's list of 100 greatest albums of all time.[26]


Parallel Lines contains several of Blondie's best-known hits, including "Heart of Glass", "Hanging on the Telephone", "Sunday Girl" and "One Way or Another". Six of the twelve tracks were issued as singles, either in the US or the UK. It is notable that the original album version of "Heart of Glass", also a single version in the UK, was replaced with the longer disco version on pressings of the album released as of March 1979. However, the original surfaced on some later reissue editions.

The album was reissued and remastered in 2001 along with Blondie's back catalog and featured four bonus tracks: a 1978 demo of "Heart of Glass", live cover of T. Rex's song "Bang a Gong (Get It On)" and two live tracks taken from Picture This Live live album.[27]

30th Anniversary Collector's Edition[edit]

On June 24, 2008, an expanded 30th Anniversary Edition of the album was released,[28] which featured new artwork[29] and bonus tracks along with bonus DVD.[30] The liner notes once again featured lyrics to unfinished "Parallel Lines" song. The Parallel Lines 30th Anniversary Edition included the 7" single version of "Heart of Glass", which was featured on the original pressing of the album, the French version of "Sunday Girl" and some remixes, plus a DVD with albums promo videos and TV performance.

The band also launched a word tour of the same name to promote the re-release and celebrate the event.[31]

Track listing[edit]

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Hanging on the Telephone" (The Nerves cover) Jack Lee 2:17
2. "One Way or Another"   Deborah Harry, Nigel Harrison 3:31
3. "Picture This"   Harry, Chris Stein, Jimmy Destri 2:53
4. "Fade Away and Radiate"   Stein 3:57
5. "Pretty Baby"   Harry, Stein 3:16
6. "I Know But I Don't Know"   Frank Infante 3:53
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
7. "11:59"   Destri 3:19
8. "Will Anything Happen?"   Jack Lee 2:55
9. "Sunday Girl"   Stein 3:01
10. "Heart of Glass"   Harry, Stein 3:54
11. "I'm Gonna Love You Too" (Buddy Holly cover) Joe B. Mauldin, Niki Sullivan, Norman Petty 2:03
12. "Just Go Away"   Harry 3:21


  • The album version of "Heart of Glass" was replaced with the disco version (5:50 minutes long) on pressings of the album released as of March 1979. The original length version of "Heart Of Glass" appeared on the original US CD release in 1985 Chrysalis VK 41192 [later F2 21192] although the CD artwork proclaimed it was in fact 'Disco Version'. Later editions of the Capitol disc had the mistake removed from the inlay but it remained on the disc until its deletion. 1994 DCC Compact Classics Gold CD release [Capitol Special Markets USA] GSZ 1062 features original version (3.45) with 5'50 version as a bonus track – this edition also featured booklet with full song lyrics. Chrysalis through EMI/Toshiba in Japan issued Parallel Lines with a mini LP card sleeve in 2006 - notable for its reproduction inner sleeve complete with lyrics and Chrysalis Records label on the actual disc.
  • A promotional CD of the album was given away free with the British newspaper The Mail on Sunday on 5 December 2010, including the bonus tracks "What I Heard" and "Girlie Girlie" from the band's 2011 album Panic of Girls.[32]


Additional personnel


Chart successions[edit]

Order of precedence
Preceded by
Action Replay by Various Artists
UK Albums Chart number-one album
17 February 1979 – 10 March 1979
Succeeded by
Spirits Having Flown by Bee Gees
Preceded by
Saturday Night Fever by Bee Gees & Various Artists
UK Albums Chart biggest-selling album of the year
Succeeded by
Super Trouper by ABBA


Region Certification Sales/shipments
Canada (Music Canada)[43] 4× Platinum 400,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[44] Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[45] Platinum 1,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Graff, Gary (20 May 2008). "Blondie Celebrating 30th Birthday Of 'Parallel Lines'". Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 11 July 2012. 
  2. ^ Harry, Debbie; Stein, Chris; Bockris, Victor (1999). Making Tracks: The Rise of Blondie. Horizon Book Promotions. pp. 54–55. ISBN 0-306-80858-7. 
  3. ^ a b Harry, Debbie; Stein, Chris; Bockris, Victor (1999). Making Tracks: The Rise of Blondie. Horizon Book Promotions. pp. 130–131. ISBN 0-306-80858-7. 
  4. ^ "Once More (Into the Bleach): Blondie Returns For Its Fifteenth Round". Discoveries magazine. Retrieved 2013-11-24. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ Che, Cathay (1999). Deborah Harry: Platinum Blonde. André Deutsch. p. 59. ISBN 0-233-99496-3. 
  7. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (October 30, 1978). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice (New York). Retrieved June 30, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b Ruhlmann, William. "Parallel Lines – Blondie : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 9 July 2012. 
  9. ^ Tucker, Ken (3 November 1982). "Parallel Lines". Rolling Stone (Wenner Media). Retrieved 9 July 2012. 
  10. ^ Bangs 1980, p. 62.
  11. ^ a b c Berger, Arion (June 8, 2000). "Review: Parallel Lines". Rolling Stone (New York): 129. 
  12. ^ a b c "500 Greatest Albums of All Time: Parallel Lines – Blondie". Rolling Stone (New York). November 2003. Retrieved June 30, 2013. 
  13. ^ Sheffield, Rob et al. (January 1995). "Spins". Spin (New York): 73–4. Retrieved June 30, 2013. 
  14. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (September 2008). "Blondie: Parallel Lines". Blender (New York). Retrieved June 30, 2013. 
  15. ^ "Review: Parallel Lines". Entertainment Weekly (New York): 85. September 21, 2001. 
  16. ^ a b Plagenhoef, Scott (1 August 2008). "Blondie: Parallel Lines: Deluxe Edition". Pitchfork. Retrieved 9 July 2012. 
  17. ^ a b "Review: Parallel Lines". Q (London): 143. October 2001. 
  18. ^ "Blondie: Album Guide". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 21 September 2012. 
  19. ^ Cinquemani, Sal (7 October 2003). "Blondie: Parallel Lines". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 9 July 2012. 
  20. ^ Wikane, Christian John (July 3, 2008). "Blondie: Parallel Lines". PopMatters. Retrieved June 30, 2013. 
  21. ^ Frere-Jones, Sasha (November 2001). "Destination Unknown". Spin (New York): 137. Retrieved June 30, 2013. 
  22. ^ "2003 NME 's Writers - AllTime Top 100 Albums". March 2003. Retrieved 11 July 2012. 
  23. ^ "The 500 Greatest Albums of all time: 100-1". October 25, 2013. Retrieved 22 February 2014. 
  24. ^ "NME: The 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time: October 2013". October 2013. Retrieved 22 February 2014. 
  25. ^ "100 Greatest American Albums of All Time". Alpha Media Group. Retrieved 11 July 2012. 
  26. ^ "Radiohead top C4 albums poll". Channel 4. April 18, 2005. Retrieved 13 January 2014. 
  27. ^ "Parallel Lines [album]". Retrieved 2014-02-04. 
  28. ^ "Blondie Celebrating 30th Birthday Of 'Parallel Lines'". May 20, 2008. Retrieved 2014-02-04. 
  29. ^ "‘Parallel Lines’ 30th Anniversary collector’s edition artwork". Retrieved 2014-02-04. 
  30. ^ "'Parallel Lines' 30th anniversary collector's edition press release (May 2008)". Retrieved 2014-02-04. 
  31. ^ "Blondie To Fete 'Parallel Lines' 30th Anniversary With Tour, Reissue". May 7, 2008. Retrieved 31 January 2014. 
  32. ^ "Free download of "Mother" now available!". 5 December 2010. Retrieved 11 July 2012. 
  33. ^ "Blondie – Parallel Lines". (in German). IFPI Austria. Retrieved 25 July 2011. 
  34. ^ "100 Albums". RPM (Library and Archives Canada) 31 (7). 12 May 1979. Retrieved 11 July 2012. 
  35. ^ "Blondie – Parallel Lines". (in Dutch). Retrieved 11 July 2012. 
  36. ^ "German Charts > Blondie > Parallel Lines" (in German). PhonoNet. Retrieved 2013-06-19. 
  37. ^ "Blondie – Parallel Lines". Retrieved 11 July 2012. 
  38. ^ "Blondie – Parallel Lines". Retrieved July 25, 2011. 
  39. ^ "Blondie – Parallel Lines". Retrieved 11 July 2012. 
  40. ^ "Blondie – Parallel Lines". Archived from the original on 26 October 2012. Retrieved 11 July 2012. 
  41. ^ "Parallel Lines – Blondie : Awards". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 11 July 2012. 
  42. ^ "Canadian 1979 Top 100 Albums". Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 30 January 2014. 
  43. ^ "Gold and Platinum Search". Retrieved 11 July 2012. 
  44. ^ "BPI – Certified Awards Search". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 2013-09-21.  Note: User needs to enter "Blondie" in the "Keywords" field, "Artist" in the "Search by" field and click the "Search" button. Select "More >>" next to the relevant entry to see full certification history.
  45. ^ "Searchable Database". Retrieved 11 July 2012. 

External links[edit]