Monday, December 28, 2015

69. Blondie - Parallel Lines

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I've flipped the original image horizontally,  vertically and both horizontally and vertically and put them side by side without losing the parallel lines.  The length of the whole keyboard
runs parallel too - and it's there to remind us before we hit the wrong key - that these lines are parallel.

The idea for the sleeve was (the band’s manager) Peter Leeds’  idea who saw Blondie as being Debbie Harry with a band. With her incredible voice and good looks, maybe that’s the way
the public always saw Blondie too  but that wasn’t the way Harry or the band wanted it to be.  “I was not fond of Peter” Harry told Q magazine.  “He told the boys that they could all be
replaced, I was the only important one.”

While the  cover for Parallel Lines is widely regarded as  an iconic classic, ironically for the band  it’s a symbol of  manipulation and  contributed  to the dropping of Leeds as manager. “I
don’t think it’s a great design, personally” says Harry.  They all look like they’ve stepped out from a huge Bridget Riley Op-Art painting. Or is it piano keys?  The typography is perfect for
the sleeve and the era from which it came, the red matching Harry’s lipstick.

Looking at the sleeve for Parallel Lines, you’d be excused for not realising it.  Debbie Harry standing out in front of band in a dress that was a far cry from  some of the outfits she’d been
known for wearing on stage.  The band dressed in suits, their ties creating more parallel lines.  The only clue that things might  not be quite what they seem is the guys’ casual footwear.
The story, revealed in Q’s “The 100 Best Record Covers of All Time,” is really interesting and not at all what you’d expect. 

Apparently the  band were sold on the  idea that they would fade in and out of the stripes, which was the one  element they liked.  The facial  expressions – Harry’s sexy scowl contrasted
with the  guys’ goofy grins – were also Leeds’ idea.  According to Harry, he tricked them into pulling the  expressions once and then  proceeded to make the cover  without showing them.
“Everyone just flipped out” Harry said. “We were shocked that the artwork had been completed without our approval and that the decision had been made without the band.” Full article

Parallel Lines. Blondie was Deborah Harry and the boys.

No. 57, The Virgin All-Time Album Top 1000; No. 140, Rolling Stone, The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Photo by Edo Bertoglio, lettering by Jerry Rodriguez, illustration by Frank Duarte, art direction and design by Ramey Communications.
Album produced by Mike Chapman. Chrysalis 1978.

Chapman took an unorthodox approach when recording with Harry who he describes as "a great singer and a great vocal stylist, with a beautifully identifiable voice. However, [. . .]
also very moody". Chapman was far more cautious of demanding much from Harry as he saw her as a highly emotional person who would vest these emotions in the songs they made.
He encouraged her to be cautious about the way she sang, particularly to recognise phrasing, timing and attitude.

Chapman would start with the basic track, which was difficult to record at the time by way of "pencil erasing".  He explained in an interview for Sound on Sound,  "that meant using a
pencil to hold the tape away from the head and erasing up to the kick drum.  If a bass part was ahead of the kick,  you could erase it so that it sounded like it was on top of the kick. 
That's very easy to do these days, but back then it was quite a procedure just to get the bottom end sounding nice and tight." 

After the basic track was complete, Chapman would record lead and backing vocals with Harry.  However, this process was hampered by many songs not being written in time for the
vocals to be recorded. When recording vocal parts, Chapman remembers asking Harry if she was ready to sing,  only for her to reply "Yeah, just a minute" as she was still writing lyrics
down. Chapman notes that many "classic" songs from the album were created this way.

Parallel Lines took its name from an unused track written by Harry, the lyrics of which were included in the first vinyl edition of the album. The cover sleeve image was photographed
by Edo Bertoglio and was chosen by Blondie's manager, Peter Leeds,  despite being rejected by the band.  The photo shows the band posing in matching dress suits and smiling broadly
in contrast to Harry who poses defiantly with her hands on her hips while wearing a white dress. Full article

(A) Hanging on the Telephone - One Way or Another - Picture This - Fade Away and Radiate - Pretty Baby - I Know But I Don't Know

(B) 11:59 - Will Anything Happen? - Sunday Girl - Heart of Glass - I'm Gonna Love You Too - Just Go Away

"Heart of Glass" live from Valdano 1986 on YouTube.



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