Blondie – Parallel Lines

Of course, this was the breakout album for Blondie, the one that made them international superstars, the one that made millions of people explain “Debbie Harry isn’t Blondie, that’s the name of the band.” New producer, slightly new sound, and a massive smash hit with what they previously called “The Disco Song,” better known as “Heart of Glass.” Interesting to look back at what was going on in 1978, which really may have been the peak peak of disco. Blondie released three singles from this album in August, September and October of 1978: “Picture This,” “I’m Gonna Love You Too,” and “Hanging on the Telephone.” Every one a great song. Not a single one charted in the US; the first and third did pretty well in the UK. Then in January 1979, they release “Heart of Glass” as a single, and the whole world loses its mind. I’m not saying it’s a bad song — it’s not. But, it is the least of all known Blondie songs (except for “Rapture.”) Every song on “Parallel Lines” is a better song, but that’s the one that propelled them to international stardom, made this album a huge hit, and created more sales for their first two albums. (Interestingly, the earliest editions of the album in the US had the “non-disco” version of “Heart of Glass,” which is still pretty disco.)

Parallel Lines front cover
Parallel Lines front cover

So, yeah. This hit when I was a college freshman, and everyone knew it, everyone had it, and “Heart of Glass” was inescapable on the radio. The next single was “Sunday Girl,” which incredibly didn’t chart in the US, and then they released “One Way or Another,” which went to #24 in the US. An incredible six out of twelve songs from the album were released as singles, only one of them really did anything, and the album hit #6 in the US and was certified platinum at 1,000,000 units in the US, and 20,000,000 worldwide (over time). And, I think it’s safe to say it is the last great Blondie album – nothing to follow would be this solid.

No question, this is a fantastic album, and deserved its hit status. The crisper production reflected some evolved writing as well, so it’s less comic-book feeling than the first two albums, but still has a great feel. Most of these tracks made it onto my various mixtapes from the college era. It has one of the best album closing tracks ever, too, in “Just Go Away.”

Parallel Lines back cover
Parallel Lines back cover
I guess this was Kittelberger's
I guess this was Kittelberger’s

I bought this used, likely at Desert Shore Records. Not only did someone named “Kittelberger” own it previously, but I think at the time I knew who that person was. Not any more, too much time has passed.

What happened to the title track?
What happened to the title track?

One mystery I still haven’t solved in all these years: On the lyric sheet, there are lyrics for the song “Parallel Lines,” but the song does not appear on the album. I always presumed it had hit the cutting room floor, perhaps late in the album’s production. One would think it would have resurfaced in one of the many collections or expanded editions. All I’ve been able to learn in the age of the internet is a reference on Wikipedia that the 30th Anniversary Edition of the album’s liner notes “once again featured lyrics to the unfinished ‘Parallel Lines’ song.” So it must have been very unfinished, and perhaps not recorded in any way.

Chrysalis label
Chrysalis label – the same on all the Blondie records.

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