Thursday, October 06, 2005

Parallel Lines


The first record I ever bought was ‘Denis, Denis’ by Blondie. That’s what I tell anybody who asks. It’s a bare faced lie; the first record I ever bought was ‘Kisses for Me’, the seminal Eurovision Song Contest winner from Brotherhood of Man in 1977. It’s a little white lie; one that I think is perfectly justified because the first group who really mattered to me was Blondie.

They really had everything. A drop dead gorgeous lead singer (even if she was a quite elderly 32), and three black fringed, matchstick thin, New Yawk band mates. They had the perfect look, married with the ability to combine bubblegum pop music with hard edged, new wave, punk élan.

They were quite an odd outfit, emerging from a specific time and place. Debbie Harry was a veteran of the sleazy Andy Warhol/Lou Reed New York rock underworld. They debuted at the CBGB club to hoots of derision. The ultra hip coterie of purists was more used to the likes of The Ramones and The Patti Smith Group. They saw Blondie as pop lightweights, and regarded a blonde bimbo lead singer as utterly risible.

They were missing the point. Blondie were capturing the spirit of the best of disposable ‘60’s pop, and spinning it with tight guitars and staccato drums. They rattled off hits like the early Beatles: ‘Denis’, ‘Call Me’, ‘Hanging on the telephone’, and ‘Picture This’ followed in quick succession. They were perfectly crafted examples of the fresh, exhilarating, three minute pop song.

Blondie weren’t around for long, but they produced more in a short period than probably anyone since. I still think ‘Touched by Your Presence Dear’ is one of the finest pop songs ever recorded.

22 comments:

Alex M said...

Debbie Harry in the late-seventies/early eighties was one of the most beautiful women on Earth.

Not on that particular album cover, though.

Sniffy said...

One of the finest and most distinctive starts to any album, EVER, was that phone ringing.

That album provided the soundtrack to my summer in, errrm was it 1979? So many fine tracks (Picture this, Sunday Girl, Heart of Glass, Hangin' on the telephone), such quality in one album is some achievement. This was a truly wonderful piece of work. I still have the original copy and I'll treasure it for ever.

Fave Blondie track? Too hard to answer, but I think three top tunes are Picture this, Union City Blue, and Dreaming

garfer said...

Brrrnnng, Brrrnnng....'I'm in the phone booth, it's the one across the hall.'
Yes indeed.
Best photie I could find Alex.

Sniffy said...

Damn, all I'm getting is the red cross in the box - is it the Parallel Lines cover?

Sniffy said...

Ahh, I see it now.

"Darling, darling, darling, I can't wait to see you, your memory's not enough, I can't wait to touch you... in the flesh!"

Oooh, I say.

MHN for short said...

Rapture was the first "rap" song according to Dave. i loved it. I still love to sing along with "Heart of Glass". I think i was 9 when it came out. "One Way or Another" is also very good, I'll getcha, I'll getcha!!! :-)

Piggy and Tazzy said...

We just KNEW it'd be something like Brotherhood of Man!

*pisses self laughing*

Mine was 'Two Little Boys' by Rolf Harris. Mummy forced me to buy it.

I was in the Blondie fan club though - Back in those days before I discovered I liked dick, I used to fancy her.

My fave was 'Atomic'

garfer said...

Debbie Harry claimed that her looks lasted so long beacuase she was pickled in drugs.
Sadly, everything has gone a bit south since then. She's still quite presentable for an auld bird though.

Sniffy said...

You ever see her in John Waters' Hairspray? Love that film.

Wyndham said...

She's still quite presentable and happily quite mad with it. I think they're the only band who have ever had a decent reunion record as well, Maria.

Videodrome. Hmmmmm.

surly girl said...

my first record was a barry manilow album, but don't tell anyone.

garfer said...

Maria was a top song. The band are looking all greybeardish though, and Debbie is a bit on the plump and matronly side.
I prefer to remember the peroxide vamp with the killer cheekbones.
Barry Manilow surlygirl. You clearly have the NOSE to sniff out muscical genius.

Sniffy said...

Ho ho ho

Alex M said...

My first couple of records were all "Now That What I Call Music..." compilations, but my first album containing music all by the same artist was "Introspective" by the Pet Shop Boys.

I'm not embaressed about that. They had some good tunes.

I am embaressed about the second one I bought - "The Best of Status Quo".

The chord-deficient ones were also my first gig.

Faltanus said...

Blondie really did produce more than bubble gum pop, they were able to produce music that caught on with the public and was smart and complicated and deep at the same time. they had a really big impact on the popular music scene, and still do today. nobody can tell me that bands like Garbage and No Doubt aren't a result of the road paved by Blondie.

and oh yeah, Debbie is definitely more than just a little presentable, she has aged VERY nicely, and this from the token gay guy.

garfer said...

Madonna has claimed that she used Debbie Harry as a template. She was the first white woman pop star to use her looks in a fairly aggressive look but don't touch way.

Sniffy said...

There'll be handbags if Piggy and Tazzy know you've said that you're the token gay guy, Faltanus.

piggy & tazzy said...

Oi!!! You wench!

Are you implying we're poofs???

Typical bloody Yanks, nobody counts but them!

*looks for the biggest handbag - the one containing the brick*

*shocked that Tina's 'outed' us!*

S.I.D. said...

My first record was Mississipi by Pussycat. It just went on and on and on.


A poster of Blondie graced my bedroom wall for years. It hid the hole I was digging to escape

garfer said...

Calm down boys. No transatlantic fisticuffs on my blog thank you very much.

MHN for short said...

Good refereeing(sp?) Garf!

Rowan said...

yep Blondie rocked.