martes, 20 de octubre de 2015

Blondie – Parallel Lines (1978) – Blondie is a group

Parallel Lines
Art Direction & Design
Ramey Communication
Frank Duarte
Jerry Rodriguez
Record Company
Chrysalis , 1978


Front cover

Blondie’s third album, Parallel Lines, was released in September 1978. Produced by British songwriter turned producer Mike Chapman (responsible for a string of hits for artist such as Sweet or Suzy Quatro), the record became the group’s most commercially successful album making them worldwide stars.

The cover is a slick and rather simple design, it’s just black and white parallel lines with the band in front. A confrontational Debbie Harry in a white dress standing out in front of the smiling boys of the band dressed in black suits. The band logo and album name in red. It’s just that.

Despite its simplicity (or precisely because of it) the cover was an instant success and has become iconic. Sometimes less is more and the cover has stood the test of time as it’s still wildly popular in its simplicity.

The cover caused some controversy among the fans and within the band itself.


On the backcover, more parallel lines and another photo of the group form the same photoshoot. On the lower side there are pictures of the shoes of each member of the group. Notice that Debbie Harry is changing her outfit for another more appropriate and Clem Burke is wearing Converse sneakers with different color in each foot. Also with Converse sneakers, Nigel Harrison is wearing a nice pair of Mr. Spock socks.

Inner jacket – Side one

Inner jacket – Side two

In the liner notes in the inner jacket, there are lyrics listed for a "Parallel Lines" song, though no such song exists on the album. The lyrics for the song, written by Debbie Harry, are:

The lines I have written that you read between
The lines on the pages
The lines on the screen
Of lines spoken - I say what I mean.
It's parallel lines that will never meet

Ship in the desert
Ships in the night
Ships that pass in the night

Evangeline stream - Evangeline's dream,
It's parallel lines that will never meet.

The sleeve’s concept was the band’s manager Peter Leeds’ idea and although Parallel Lines is now viewed as an iconic album cover, for the band it’s a symbol of manipulation.
“I don’t think it’s a great design, personally” says Harry. [1]

Debbie Harry with manager Peter Leeds in 1978. Photo by Chris Gabrin. Source

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 as hell 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. [2]

 “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.” [1]
“We were all pissed about how we were smiling in the cover photo” says Chris Stein “We picked out the shots that we liked but our manager picked the one shot he liked and went with that. Everyone was annoyed because we wanted to look more rock & roll”. [3]

In 1979 the band decided to part ways with Leeds who was replaced by Shep Gordon, Alice Copper’s manager.

 “I was not fond of Peter” says Harry “He told the boys that they could all be replaced, I was the only important one.” [1]
Debbie Harry often eclipsed the rest of the band and the people were having trouble realizing the fact that Blondie was not just one person, as the name suggests. That wasn’t the way Harry or the band wanted it to be and was increasingly becoming a problem and the cover did not help their cause. So by 1979 the band felt the need to start a “Blondie is a Group” button campaign.

Blondie is a Group button

At the time photographer Roberta Bayley was employed by Blondie and she hired Edo Bertoglio for the shoot. Roberta Bayley was one of the “official” photographers of the New York punk scene, she made the cover photograph for The Ramones first album and Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers' album LAMF. Roberta took some photos of Debbie Harry and the band before the session begun at Edo's studio.

“For the cover of ‘Parallel Lines’,” Roberta recalls “I enlisted the coolest downtown photographer I knew, Edo Bertoglio. His French girlfriend, the divine Maripol, was the stylist. She tried to get Debbie to go for a mini look on the shoot, but failed”. [4]

Left: Debbie Harry with Roberta Bayley (1980 – Photo: Bobby Grossman) –Right: Edo Bertoglio (Photo: unknown)

Edo Bertoglio (born 1951 in Lugano, Switzerland) was a photographer and filmmaker (Face addict, Downtown 81) who was a satellite of the Andy Warhol scene in New York in the 1970s and 80s. He took photos for magazines as well as album covers, completing many assignments for Atlantic, Arista, and Warner Brothers Records, Blondie's Parallel Lines being his most well known work.

 Photo by Roberta Bayley - Source

Photo by Roberta Bayley - Source

 Photo by Roberta Bayley - Source

Photo by Roberta Bayley - Source

Michael Ochs Archives- Source

 Chrysalis Advertising - Photo by ? – Source:

 Chrysalis Advertising - Photo by ?


The dress
“Stephen Sprouse designed the dress and most of Debbie’s stage clothes” recalls Roberta Bayley[5]

 “I got a lot of shit for that dress”, says Debbie Harry, re-examining herself on the cover of Blondie’s 1978 album Parallel Lines through a pair lorgenettes on a string round her neck. Back in the day, the badger hair, hard faced stare and fists-on-hips confrontational stance were all deemed just punk enough. The strappy, below-knee white dress, however, was not. “In the UK, especially, the dress created two camps,” remembers Harry. “People who wanted to fuck me. And the ones who wanted to kill me for not being punk enough.” [6]

The shoes

The shoes worn by Debbie Harry on the cover are a pair of Genie by Polly of California[7]. She got her shoes in a little place in Manhattan, New York, called Paradise Bootery[8]. This is the shoe that appears on the feet of a bikini-clad Marilyn Monroe in the wardrobe tests for her last, never-completed film, ''Something's Got to Give.'' [7]

Genie by Polly of California. Source photo:


Illustrator Frank Duarte is also credited for the illustration of the cover of Jethro Tull’s “Repeat: The Best of Jethro Tull, Vol. 2” (1977).

Art Direction & Design

Ramey Communication were also responsible for the Art Direction and Design of the cover of the second Blondie's album, “Plastic Letters” (1977).

There are some variations of the Parallel Lines cover artwork. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list.

Here it is the Parallel Lines 12"Picture Disc (catalogue number PCDL 1192)

Front cover jacket

Back cover jacket

Side One - Photo by Martyn Goddard

Side Two – Photo by Edo

The 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition of Parallel Lines was released with a different cover.

Front cover - Goodbye parallel lines

Blondie has used the black and white parallel lines on several other releases’ covers and promo material. Here are some examples.

Hanging on the telephone 7” single cover (1978)

Front cover

Also in the Hanging on the telephone promo video (1978)

Blondie-The_Platinum_Collection (1994) – UK Edition

Front cover

Back cover

Back of the booklet

Even more parallel lines: Blondie - Singles Box (2004) : Booklet front cover

Front cover

The Parallel Lines must be one of the most recreated covers ever. Here are some examples.

"In another stunning picture, the band re-create Blondie's classic Parallel Lines album cover--with Damon [Albarn] transforming himself into Debbie Harry”… "...Damon ditched his bowlcut for a blonde wig, silk white dress and high heels to look like Debbie Harry shortly before Blur shot to stardom."[9] 

Photo by Kevin Cummins (1991) - Source

Big Bang Theory cast on The Daily Edit – Wednesday 10.17.12

 the The Daily Edit – Wednesday 10.17.12

The Brazilian rock band Bidê ou Balde on the MTV magazine.
Bidê ou Balde

 The cover recreated by fans (or those sold as such by publicists) of  Disney XD’s teen sitcom "I’m In The Band"

I’m In The Band

Garbage - Why do you love me promo video

Garbage - Why do you love me promo video screenshots

There’s even a Parallel Lines Converse All Star shoes.


Official Blondie website
Interesting article about the Parallel Lines album recording.

1. Harrison, Andrew; Saville, Peter (2001), Q magazine Special Issue - The 100 Best Record Covers Of All Time.
3. Blondie - Parallel Lines - 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition CD Liner notes.
6. Q Magazine (June 2011)  Words: Michael Odell 06 May 2012.
7. Polly, The Talking Mule, By Mim Udovitch, Published: August 17, 2003   Retrieved 20 October 2015.
8.    Retrieved 20 October 2015.
9. Stuart Maconie, 3862 Days: The Official History of Blur (London: Virgin, 1999) (Dingwall, 9 July 1999, 56)