Let me state this from the outset, this is one of the greatest pop albums ever produced, possibly, until proven otherwise, THE best pop album ever produced. That’s right, I used an upper case THE.
The late 70’s were an amazing time in music for me. What has now become known as ‘Classic Rock’ was still on my turntable, but other things were happening that were attracting me away from that. This was a time when ‘Top Of The Pops’ meant something as it was one of the few places that any music was played on TV and it was hugely influential on a lot of young folk like myself, even if we weren’t prepared to admit to our peers that we even watched it. There was a time when the miming didn’t matter, there weren’t many that cared about it at all and it wasn’t until claims were made that everybody would henceforth be playing live that it became an issue, because it was quite clear that they didn’t. I am off on a bit of a tangent now but I’m going to go with it anyway.
The two most memorable miming incidents for me where from All About Eve and Marillion, because I saw them both happen live, not the best choice of words, but as they were broadcast. The former sat waiting for the track to start for quite a long time, not realising that for the folks at home, it had already started but wasn’t coming out of their monitors. Here’s a video of it:
All About Eve were invited back the following week to perform it again, but this time live. I think a lot of people felt rather sorry for them as it was clearly a BBC issue, and it was the BBC who were insisting on the miming not the performers. This is the following week and it’s pretty good:
The Marillion incident was rather different. There was a time when the BBC would not use the record or official release and the artist had to re-record them specifically for the show. For the song ‘Garden Party’ they actually couldn’t use the original lyric on television before the 9PM watershed and would have to have changed it regardless, however, this gave lead singer, Fish, the opportunity for a bit of a jolly wheeze. The original lyric was; I’m punting, I’m beagling, I’m wining, reclining, I’m rucking, I’m f***ing, So welcome, it’s a party. That last one, with the asterix, was replaced with “I’m miming”, which, when coupled with the fact that, in full view of everybody watching, he didn’t move his mouth at all for this bit, was actually rather clever. Terrible quality video, go to about 2:20 to not have to endure the rest of it.
Now back to the actual topic, Blondie, – Parallel Lines. It is rare that an album spawns 6 singles but this one did, and a few were massive:
“I’m Gonna Love You Too”
“Hanging on the Telephone”
“Heart of Glass”
“One Way or Another”
All of these are available in the video playlist below:
In an odd way some of the tracks on the album suffered from being side by side with the singles, but there are tracks that were just as worthy of receiving a 7 inch release, such as one of my favourites, “Fade away and radiate”. However, ” “Pretty Baby” could easily have been a single as well, actually, almost any of them could have been, it really was a complete album, “I Know but I Don’t Know”, “11:59”, “Will Anything Happen?”, “I’m Gonna Love You Too” (Buddy Holly cover) and “Just Go Away” are the remaining tracks and I could see any of them hitting the top 40 at the time. Perhaps there was no reason to release more singles as the album ended up selling around 20 million copies, which is a hell of a lot.
Listening to this album was one of those occasions that used to happen back when the world existed only in black and white, where I didn’t own this album, what we used to do was go to our friends houses and just listen to music. I’m not sure that happens much nowadays, but back in 1979 it happened all the time. They were all over the radio anyway, “Heart of Glass” in particular, so you would always hear some of it, but sitting down and listening to the whole thing in the right order was a bit of a treat. I remember one occasion when we were out of cigarettes (not that we could afford to smoke much) and we emptied the tobacco from the butts left in the ashtray and smoked them in a pipe, at the time it seemed OK, but later I felt about as sick as I ever had, all to “Parallel Lines’ playing in the background. Kids are stupid.
I know it’s a lot of watching, but here are Blondie from 1979, live in concert ( 7/7/1979 – Convention Hall (Asbury Park, NJ)
And OGWT from 1979 (recorded in Glasgow)
I haven’t listened to this album as a whole for years, but now I have once again, including turning it over to hear the other side, it comes as no surprise to me that I loved it as much as I did as I still do, great songs, great performances, and, quite luckily, a gorgeous lead singer, which, for a young teen boy is never a bad thing.