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Classic Album covers : Parallel Lines - Blondie

Parallel Lines is the third studio album by Blondie. It was released in September 1978 by Chrysalis Records

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

When Parallel Lines was being recorded, the Machiavellian Leeds was well aware who his meal ticket was. “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

Blondie were a punk band. 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 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

“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”

It was the final straw and Leeds was replaced by Alice Cooper’s manager Shep Gordon. But at least the duo-chromatic cover, with the guys either predicting Reservoir Dogs or remembering the mod craze of the 60s, featured the whole band

They weren’t so lucky on the picture disc version of the album. Taken by British photographer Martyn Goddard, the image features Debbie licking the edge of a 12 inch vinyl LP, with a lipstick ‘kiss’ on the label

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