Blondie's "Parallel Lines" Sleeve Still An Impact On Music Industry and Fashion
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Thanks to music producer Mike Chapman, Blondie’s 1979 hit song, “Heart of Glass,” nearly missed out on being a selection on the band’s third studio album, “Parallel Lines.”
Before Chapman turned the song into a cutting-edge disco song, a music genre the six-member band refers the tune to, “Heart of Glass was experimented as a ballad, a reggae sound, and funky beat written as early as 1975.
Lead singer Deborah Harry and her then boyfriend Chris Stein penned the song that is now firmly a signature melody for Blondie. Oh, for clarification, Blondie is a music band and not a sole reference to Harry, which has been misunderstood for years.
Heart of Glass is a world-renowned tune that can’t be denied. As soon as the bass line, drum machine, and Casio keyboards kicked in, the dance floor was packed in the discotheque.
But what is equally as important as the song is the New York-based band’s fashion sense that emerged with the 1978 album Parallel Lines. It’s still one of the most attractive album cover that has been mimic by the masses.
Harry, Stein, drummer Clem Burke, electronic keyboardist Jimmy Destri, bass guitarist Nigel Harrison, and guitarist Frank Infante were one the sweet faces New Wave music. They all had the “It” look along with The Cars, the Knack, and The Ramones.
Of course, record label Chrysalis was masterfully creative in packaging the group’s young and cool appearance to align with Blondie songs such as “Sunday Girl,” “Hanging on the Telephone,” “Picture This,” and “One Way Or Another.” But Parallel Lines’ sold just as many records based on the artsy cover alone.
The band’s manager Peter Leeds was the mastermind behind the sleeve. He laid out a plan to make Harry stand out among the band, focusing on her drop-dead gorgeous looks and knockout voice that could sound smooth as the woman she is and grittier as a man with lust on his mind.
Reportedly, Harry didn’t like the way Leeds handled her bandmates during the production of Parallel Lines, nor did she care for the album cover that was laced in a colorful, black-and-white, piano-keys image.
The sexy lead singer, in cherry-red lipstick, is dressed in a scantily, ivory outfit, that rose well above her knees while the men glamorized black suits, black ties, and white-collared shirts. It was the first “Men in Black,” “Wall Street,” representation well before those films graced the silver screen.
It may have not been in favor with the band, or will it ever be, but the Parallel Line’s sleeve will remain a favorite in the world of music art. The good part about it is that Harry, Stein, Burke, Destri, Harrison, and Infante made it happen. They did continue with symmetrical settings on later albums.
Leeds was fired after the album cover was released without the band’s knowledge and approval. Blondie kept on churning out hits and magnificent album sleeves.
Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame for 2016. The O'Jays’ “For the Love of Money,” Fleetwood Mac’s 1975 self-entitled album, and Kool and the Gang’s “Celebration” also made the cut of inductees.
First published July 1, 2016, and Nov. 9, 2016
— By T. Ray Harvey | PA Public Information Officer