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4.8 out of 5 stars
Parallel Lines
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50 of 51 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
BLONDIE kicked around for several years and released a couple of albums without developing more than a very localized New York following, where the band was generally considered a sort of punk-pop fusion--and then in the late 1970s came PARALLEL LINES, which vaulted them to a superstardom seldom seen even in the high profile music world. And listening to the recording today it is easy to understand why: absolutely everything about the album is perfect.
As a whole, PARALLEL LINES manages to walk a fine line between several different musical styles. Most of the tracks have a bouncy, almost bubble-gum feel: catchy and memorable with driving rhythms. But the arrangements are anything but bubble-gum: they rely on a mix of synthesizers and traditional drums-bass-guitar in a way that essentially defines the entire "new wave" sound of the late 1970s. And the lyrics, often savage, frequently satircal, and always memorable, are edgy and witty and sharp and about as far from pop as one can get.
All of that would have been enough to make a hit album--but BLONDIE also had the front singer to end all front singers: Debbie Harry, who mixed tough and sexy and pretty and naughty to tremendous effect--and whose full-throated voice actually contrived to SOUND blonde. Whether we're talking about the sleek, disco-like "Heart of Glass" or the punk-edged "Just Go Away" or the new wave "Fade Away and Radiate," the music here suits her unique voice perfectly--and the result is a truly flawless group of recordings that set the standard for the next decade. Blondie would do several more recordings before the band collapsed, and some of them would be very good--but PARALLEL LINES is IT, a landmark in the pop music lexicon. This remastered release, which includes a couple of live recordings for good measure, is an essential in any pop music library. Strongly recommended.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2003
Format: Audio CD
Parallel Lines is nothing less than a Masterpiece. Constantly ranked in the Top 100 best albums of all time, not to mention sellers of all time, some 21 million copies internationally by 2003. Blondie soared to superstar status not only on the music charts 1978-1979 with this album, but forever placed them as POP ICONS. Blondie are truly among rock music's elite. If ever there was a perfect POP/ROCK Album, Parallel Lines is it. In a time where 6 singles off 1 album was unheard of, Blondie did the unthinkable and rode the International charts. Deborah Harry is simply sweet as honey, on songs like "Pretty Baby" and "Sunday Girl" a UK #1 in 79. Although "Sunday Girl" was the 5th biggest sellling single in the UK in 1979, it was never released in the USA, but recieved a fair amount of FM airplay. Parallel Lines is not without it's edgy moments, as evident on songs like "11:59", "One way or another" and "Hanging on the Telephone", we see Deborah Harry singing with frantic release. The world would forever be changed with the release of the Mega Smash "Heart of Glass", without a doubt one of the 50 biggest rock songs of all time. The techno beat of "Heart of Glass" sold millions of copies worldwide, hit #1 in the US/UK/CAN and some 19 other countries. The number #2 song of the year in the UK, Heart of Glass is still as vibrant a song today, as it was in 1979, fresh and still ultra cool. The technobeat of "Heart of Glass" inspires Dance music even today. Parallel lines rode the charts for 2 years and was the #9 USA and #1 UK best selling album of the year in 1979. Parallel Lines was produced by legendary producer "Mike Chapman", who produced 3 other all time classics, all from 1979. Pat Benatar's "In the heat of the Night", The Knack's "Get the Knack" and another 1979 BLONDIE album "Eat to the Beat". Parallel lines is an outstanding album, full of intelligent and catchy lyrics, and great grooves. This album does not have a weak track on it, this is a consumers dream, full of value and rock history. Parallel lines is a Classic album in every sense.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2002
Format: Audio CD
Hearing that opening line from Parallel Line's Pretty Baby I'm reminded of why I love Blondie so much: they represent pop music at it's most unique and intelligent. Debbie Harry and Chris Stein were pushing 40 back in the glory days of Parallel Lines. They were old enough to have established points of view and pretty much stuck to them. They were slightly retro, girl group and sci-fi obsessed New Yorkers. Their success came when they teamed up with L.A. based producer Mike Chapman (who also produced most of Pat Benatar's best work). In his new and enlightening liner notes Chapman explains how he tamed Blondie.
This album is full of high energy, hook filled, infectious pop. It includes the now classic Heart of Glass in it's hit version as well as in an earlier less polished version. Other highlights include Fade Away and Radiate, a sci-fi pop dirge (by this time a Blondie staple) with an incredible guitar solo by Robert Fripp and Debbie's James Cagney inspired vocals on One Way Or The Other, where she states that she's "gonna getcha getcha getcha".
My only complaint is that this reissue does not include the lyrics as the original album did. The remastering is brilliant and brings out the wonderful arrangements enabling you to hear the strong contributions by all the band members, especially the keyboard playing of Jimmy Destri.
By the way, the CD's opener is a cover version of The Nails' "Hanging On The Telephone".
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 2008
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
Let's face it--there are a thousand versions of "Parallel Lines" available on CD by now--and almost all of the songs from it are on the more comprehensive compilations as well. This oddity has its pros and cons--I'll start from the outside in.

The original cover artwork has been kind of mangled, not quite sure what they were going for here. The album title is Parallel Lines and they removed the parallel lines. The lyrics for Debbie's unfinished poem from which the title came show the first three lines out of order (it should read, "the lines on the pages, the lines on the screen, the lines I have written that you read between...")

There are only 2 or 3 photos from the outtakes for the cover picture--aside from these the opportunities for an exciting booklet appear to have been wasted. The back cover picture by Roberta Bayley is a live shot from 1979--when Debbie was playing the shaggy-haired rock goddess, as opposed to the more retro and vampy pop siren of "Parallel Lines". Can't we keep the eras straight?

Lest I sound nitpicky, I'll get to some of the good aspects of this disc. The sound quality is great, just as good as (but no better than) the 2001 remaster. There are some good bonus tracks, most notably the all-French "Sunday Girl", although I have to say the mix on this song is vastly inferior to the one available on "Once More Into the Bleach", which boasts much higher fidelity coupled with a brighter vocal mix on Debbie. When the song fades with Debbie's forlorn "I got the blu-u-u-u-u-u-es...." you can really hear it on "Bleach"--here, its all but lost. Still, as they say in the video editing biz, "they won't miss what they never saw..." and it's still nice to have the song included.

The video disc is a nice consolation prize for a somewhat flimsy booklet & lack of extras--although most of them are available elsewhere, there's a great bonus in the form of a 1979 lip-synch appearance on "Top of the Pops" where the band performs "Sunday Girl", Debs in her black and white striped sailor dress, oversized sunglasses and red tights, Clem's drumset out front, the boys mugging playfully (Chris Stein was actually a handsome devil at the time!) I've seen this clip on bootleg TV compilations and it's always been one of my favorites. Top of the Pops was an excellently filmed show and I wouldn't mind having all of Blondie's appearances on it. (There's a particularly good live version of "Denis" with Debbie in red shirt and thigh boots that ranks as one of the bands best live TV appearances ever). Are you listening, BBC?

All in all, the low price makes it worth picking up for the video alone. But when is someone going to come up with a beautifully packaged, comprehensive book or box set on Blondie?
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Parallel Lines is possibly the best pop album of all time....right from the high powered fury of Hanging On The Telephone to the high vamp ferocity of Go Away.Heart Of Glass sounds as sublime as the day you first heard it,whilst Blondie die-hards can only ponder why Pretty Baby was never released as a single. Parallel Lines is described as the Breakthrough lp for the 70's new-wavers..and it is...although earlier Blondie albums like the self-titled debut and the punky Plastic Letters are too worth checking out...it is in my opinion that if Blondie had remained to be as their CBGB's incarnation of the Plastic Letters era...their success as an international supergroup would never have occured. Parallel Lines,due to Mike Chapman's slick production,catapulted them to become the most popular band of their era....and enforced Debbie Harry to become the most instantly recognised and beautiful woman of the whole music scene. My advice to you is simple....if you dont already have a copy...buy this album today..it is an essential for all music collections.If you like pop(Pretty baby;Picture This:Sunday Girl),punk(One Way Or Another;Hanging On The Telephone;Will Anything Happen)or simply yearn for all things experimental like the disco influenced Heart Of Glass or the futuristic Fade Away And Radiate... this is the album for you...forget opting for a compilation album...buy Parallel Lines...all tastes are catered for and i defy anyone to argue with me...Every one loves this album and you will too!
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
Remember the line in "Men in Black" where Tommie Lee Jones tells Will Smith, "This means I have to buy a new copy of the White Album" after showing him a futuristic audio device? Well, I only have one version of the White Album, but I've bought PARALLEL LINES in every form it's been released. Not because I no longer have the equipment to listen to it, mind you, but because I wore them all out! My purchase of this CD was due to the grief I still felt for the cassette tape, which met a sorry end in my clock radio set.
The remastered version does not disappoint. It takes you right back to 1978, when we found out that punk didn't just mean Johnny Rotten's verbal sputum or the political pessimism of the Clash. Punk could be Fun! Debbie Harry's versatile, clear-as-a-bell voice is the highlight, from the opening growl on "Hangin' on the Telephone" to the oozy sweetness of "Sunday Girl". It exudes mystery in "Fade Away & Radiate", utter desperation in "Will Anything Happen" and "11:59", and sarcastic poutiness in "Go Away" and "Pretty Baby" (an ode, by the way, to Brooke Shield's scandalous child character in the movie of the same name).
The bonus tracks I can take or leave. I like the live version of "Hangin' on the Telephone", but "Once I had a Love" is a weak version of "Glass". The cover of Marc Bolan's "Bang a Gong" is an interesting element, since it brings the number of gender-bending songs to three (including "Baby" and "Sunday Girl"), but not an especial showcase for the band. Never mind, this is still at the top of my list of discs I would take to a desert island (along with the corresponding audio equipment!).
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 17, 2005
Format: Audio CD
There are not enough superlatives that I can say about the sheer greatness and magnitude of this classic release by Blondie.

This is Blondie at the top of their game and creative powers. In a lot of respects, this album is similar to The Clash's London Calling in that Blondie was not afraid to touch any musical style, put it through their own unique filter and then unleash the results.

Every song is amazing and Debbie Harry's voice was never more luscious or sexy.

Not to say they didn't make some incredible music after this release (they did in spades), but this is definitely the definitive Blondie album.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Back when Blondie was being hailed as the biggest new-wave band in pop music by fans and critics alike, there were also just as many critics that quickly dismissed Blondie as "bubblegum pop," and one group that would never have staying power. But I think it's been observed enough how the group has had the last laugh. Parallel Lines helped establish Blondie as a serious music group and turned their cult following into commercial success. This album is also the first where Debbie Harry's voice gets sharpened with the sensibility of a sweet, vulnerable girl one minute to sultry and rapturous behind disco grooves the next. The album made punk, pop, and disco shake hands, which was a method unheard of in 1978. Songs like "Hanging on the Telephone," "Picture This," "Pretty Baby," and "Sunday Girl," have become irresitable pop gems, while "I Know But I Don't Know," and "Fade Away & Radiate," featuring a terrific guitar lick by Robert Fripp, are punk-driven classics. Last but not least are the two hits that are forever getting played on the classic rock stations of today in "One Way or Another," and "Heart of Glass." And how has Debbie Harry played out as lead singer after all these years? As Rolling Stone stated when this album was ranked #140 on their list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, "Madonna was surely watching."
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 2006
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
I first heard Blondie's "Parallel Lines" LP while browsing at the Tower Records store in Westwood, near UCLA in 1978. By the time I heard the opening chords of the second song, I had a copy of the LP in line for the cash register.

Years have passed since, and a lot of Blondie's original fans were turned off or confused by some of their subsequent efforts. For those of you that used to really love Blondie, take another listen to Parallel Lines, and you'll immediately recall why. You probably haven't heard "Will Anything Happen," "11:59," "Pretty Baby," "Sunday Girl," or "Fade Away and Radiate" for a while, but they've held up pretty well. Add the classics "One Way or Another," "Hanging on the Telephone," and "Heart of Glass," and another listen to Parallel Lines is like running into an old friend.

This disk includes bonus tracks that reveal the band's live power, especially the fine power drumming of Clem Burke and Debbie Harry's rock diva vocal abilities, especially on a relatively raw version of "Bang a Gong."
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
I was in college when this album came out. The first cut I heard was Heart of Glass on a car radio. It was a warm day and a friend was driving. We had just sat through hours of anatomy lectures. I was struck not by the words but by the detached irony of Debbie Harry's voice. It pulled me right in. That's how I felt. It was 1978 and the entire country was feeling blah. You know- stagflation, jimmy carter etc... I bought the cassette, smoked some dope and drove around with the top down. The album was a hopeful sign that things could change. The cinematic equivalent of Parallel Lines for me is Robert Altman's Nashville which came out 3 years earlier. The themes are the same. Twenty three years later I still listen to this album and the next 2-Eat to the Beat and Autoamerica. Listen to Bjork, Madonna, Hole and you can hear the echoes of Blondie.
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