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Blondie – Parallel Lines (1978)

March 1, 2014

220px-Blondie_-_Parallel_Lines[Album 291/1001]

After the first listen, I had a nifty narrative worked out for my review of Parallel Lines.

It was to be a relatively neutral review, comparing the album to the Grade 9 math topic of, you guessed it, Parallel Lines.

About how the album & the curriculum expectations were both accessible enough, easy to process & remember, but given the choice, many would likely prefer to spend their time elsewhere.

Much to my chagrin, the review had to be abandoned.  Much to my listening delight however, it was because the comparison was no longer relevant; after repeated listens, it became clear that this album was much more entertaining than my Parallel Lines math lessons!

The tipping point may have been when my wife & I went to see Blue Rodeo.  Before the show, we had dinner at Dianne’s Fish Bar.  A surprise highlight of the meal was the evening’s soundtrack.  When we were first seated, I heard Hanging on the Telephone.  I thought, Blondie, nice!  It was promptly followed by One Way or Another.  Then Picture This.  At which point I naturally complimented the server on the music selection.  She informed me that Dianne’s plays albums in their entirety, on vinyl no less.  Talk about knowing your audience!

So as Wayne Campbell once said, “contract or no, I will not bow to any commercial sponsor.”  But when the food is great, the girls are cute (at least my dining companion was/is), and complete albums are played on vinyl, that’s a local business worth endorsing!

When a ‘pop’ album gets better with repetition, that’s also an encouraging sign as that’s rarely the case with the genre.

The music has aged well and technological advancements have solved Debbie Harry’s plea in Hanging on the Telephone.  Recall that in 1978, telephones were typically fixed to the wall.  Touchtone keypads existed (rotary phones still had their place) but this was a pre-speakerphone, pre-cordless, pre-mobile time.  If you were on the phone, you were stuck in one location, a curly cord connecting your telephone receiver to the wall unit.  So being left ‘Hanging on the Telephone’ was a relatable frustration.  Now with the advancements mentioned above (plus as Donald Glover observed, it’s antiquated to use a phone as a phone), problem solved!  A solid opener.

Two songs later, Debbie Harry joined Kate Bush and Lady Miss Kier as a prophet of future technology:

“Picture this – my telephone number
One and one is what I’m telling you
Get a pocket computer
Try to do what you used to do yeah”

In 1978, the notion of a pocket-sized computer was ludicrous.  36 years later, it’s the norm with smartphones, these ladies saw the future!

The guitar tones are terrific throughout, notably on Fade Away and Radiate.  When the lead guitar enters, the sound is reminiscent of the ballads on Chinese Democracy.  For me, that’s a positive association.  I hadn’t realized it was Robert Fripp (of King Crimson, among many other projects) playing on the track.

I’m still not crazy about Heart of Glass but to borrow an adjective from the tune (and more recently from the addictive game Candy Crush), the bulk of Parallel Lines is “divine.”

From → 1970s

  1. This Diana’s Fish Bar sounds incredible! I’m checking out the link now! I’m not sure about the coconut green curry, but I do love mussels when I can get them. I actually want one of everything on that dinner menu! My lord!

    • Oh it’s exemplary!

      I opted for the risotto with blackened trout – Wendy went for the fish tacos.

      Should you find yourself in Eastern Ontario, would highly recommend!

      • I get fish so rarely. My wife is allergic so I don’t get to enjoy it often, and certainly not at a specialty place like this. However, she does understand my needs for fish, so sometimes she will let me go to a sushi place while she eats at a chicken wing place 🙂

      • That sounds like us with my peanut allergy – the girls will have a Thai date if I’m not around for dinner!

      • Ahh bummer. So you cannot know the sweet delights of the Reece.

        So are you are Howard Wolowitz then, or more severe than that? Are you the Wolowizard?

      • Fortunately I have to consume them to set off the reaction (some can’t be in the same room). But it’s the whole epipen routine if I had a reaction.

        I have to tell people it’s not like in Pulp Fiction, needle goes in the thigh, not the heart!

        Wolowitz has an allergy? I was not aware – hopefully that’s one of the only ways we’re similar!

      • I took an epipen class so I’d know what I’m doing, but I’ve never had to use it on my wife. Knock wood fingers crossed!

        There was an episode where they needed to distract Leonard (I think it was a surprise party) so Howard ate a handful of peanuts to force Leonard to take him to the hospital. It was a pretty funny scene.

        There was also an old Will Smith rom-com movie (name escapes me) with a similar visual gag. Will Smith eats the peanuts, everything swells up, he can’t speak…but then again you might not find that funny.

      • That’s dedication to the surprise party! I think the Will Smith movie might have been Hitch?

      • Hitch! That’s it! It was one of the first movies I saw with my wife actually. (The very first we went to see was The 40 Year Old Virgin).

        And yes Howard went ALL OUT for the party…which Leonard didn’t want…you can see how it plays out. Anyway it was a good episode. And what that has to do with Blondie, I don’t know. Well, parallel lines meet at infinity, and that’s science, so Bazinga.

      • The episode’s sounding familiar – or at least them being at a hospital – I seem to remember Will Smith’s mom from Fresh Prince was the triage nurse during one of their hospital visits.

        Which would link it with Will Smith in Hitch, another Bazinga!

      • My mind is blown at 8:30 am. This is why I follow 1001! 🙂

      • haha – the beauty of the comments section on all of our blogs is how the discussion veers far from the original post but somehow always end up at a logical place – I don’t pretend to understand how!

        Enjoy the day Mike!

      • And you as well! It’s bitter cold but the sun is shining and the days are getting longer.

  2. One of the best early New Wave albums to appear at the end of the seventies. Just think, The Cars, Elvis Costello and Blondie all releasing albums that would be highlights of their careers. Nice post

  3. This was a great review! I do like Blondie. And Dianne’s looks fantastic! I’m not often driving through Kingston, but will have to keep this joint in mind!

    • My thanks Sarca – and it’s worth a detour if you’re heading east at all. Actually there’s plenty of options in downtown Kingston!

  4. Emily permalink

    I’m in favour of this endorsement of Diane’s Fish Bar. A bit less sure about your willingness to allow Candy Crush ownership of the adjective “divine”… however, nowhere near the great “Rumors” debacle! Good post 🙂

    • Time has healed wounds, phew!

      I should clarify – when you make a successful move in Candy Crush, the game says things like ‘tasty’ and ‘divine’ – can’t say I’ve actually played the game before, I just hear the game narrator belting out encouragement to Wendy playing it beside me!

  5. Reblogged this on Forget the Viagra, Pass Me a Carrot and commented:
    Blondie is featured heavily on my treadmill playlist – tracks from this album in particular – music is very evocative for me and in 1978 I was the housekeeper/caterer cooking for 140 staff and children and it meant getting up at 6.00 every morning to cook breakfast! Blondie kept me company and Debbie and I have cracked 1000’s of eggs together. Great music review site and gems from past are a delight.

  6. I’ve listened to this album about a million times. I’d say the album/single version is my least favourite version of “Heart of Glass”. It evolved a lot in its time, and there actually is a more “rock” version. I actually like disco, but that specific version doesn’t do the song full justice. If I had my own business, like a shop or a restaurant, I’d definitely play full albums, and certainly 5 or 6 by Blondie!

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