Day 29: Blondie – Parallel Lines

29 Mar

One Way or Another

My dad…well…let’s call his music taste…eclectic.  Yeah, eclectic.

This week, for Dad-Rock Tuesday, I was assigned Blondie’s 1978 album Parallel Lines.  I’ll admit, I went into listening to this record with a few preconceived notions.  Having never really listened to Blondie before, I mentally grouped the band with someone like Madonna.  I can see that I was wrong to assign that label now, but that’s what kept me from checking this band out before.

So I definitely misjudged Blondie, I’ll admit that.  That doesn’t mean that I’m now a Blondie fan, though.  Sure, this album doesn’t take overproduced pop to the point that Madonna did, but it’s overproduced pop nonetheless.  There’s very little variety in the songs, as a verse-chorus-verse format can be found pretty much throughout the album.  Maybe if a bunch of the songs were exciting, or brought something unique to the table, this repetitive format could work.

The entire album revolves around Deborah Harry’s vocals, as well.  Not that she’s a bad singer, but that consistent focal point over the entire record gets really stale.  She did have solid instrumentalists backing her up.  Maybe hearing the focus shift towards them every now and then could have added some intrigue, or at least broken up the repetitive nature of Parallel Lines.

While looking for something positive on the record, I did find the classic One Way or Another.  Does it have all of the traits that make the rest of Parallel Lines boring? Yeah.  It’s really catchy, though, and remains stuck in my head as I’m writing this.  It also comes early in the album, before the formula really had time to sink in with me.

I understand the appeal of Parallel Lines.  It’s about as standard as Pop-Rock can get, with a polished, clean sound throughout.  I’m just looking for something a little grittier, a little more real.


2 Responses to “Day 29: Blondie – Parallel Lines”

  1. The Yuan March 30, 2011 at 6:22 am #

    I guess you have to take music as it comes to you, but maybe a little historical context would make you appreciate why some people view this as a great (if not important) album. Listen to the top 10 radio songs of 1978. Three are Bee Gees, two are Andy Gibb, one is Debby Boone, one is A Taste of Honey and one is the Commodores (but not the Brick House Commodores — the Three Times A Lady Commodores). The only two air quotes rock air quotes bands are Exile and Player. Then, out came Blondie. To call Blondie overproduced pop in that context is just wrong. Blondie was edgy lyrics, production and sound. And then, Debbie Harry squeezes out Heart of Glass, which, whether or not you like it, stuck a fork in the eye of all those Gibb brothers. This album was an oasis in a musical desert, not just another bowl of jello in the musical buffet line. And, if staying power proves anything, there is no question that One Way or Another still works today on all levels, which is why advertising geeks are still using it to back commercials.

    • Dave Chops April 4, 2011 at 5:08 pm #

      I beg to disagree (a little) with the Yuan on the context. Disco was actually an independent music revolution when it became popular. The major hits were NOT on major labels and that made the majors very unhappy. It led to disco hits by the Stones (Miss You) and Rod Stewart (Do Ya Think I’m Sexy) and even an Ethel Merman disco album on A&M – and to Heart of Glass which was also on a major label. This album was designed to sell – though Blondie did keep their lyrical edge. They used a producer who had worked with Sweet for crying out loud – and he did over-produce. I saw Blondie well past their glory days, playing with The Ramones, Tom Tom Club and Jerry Harrison on the Escape From New York tour. They were a far more ferocious outfit than I would have ever guessed from the albums. They were good, they were fine but they were not game-changers in my opinion – at least not musically.

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