Debbie Harry with producer Mike Chapman and guitar wizard Robert Fripp at work on Parallel Lines, Record Plant NYC, 1978, by Chris Stein, via blondieofficial
I love everything about this. Three such different personalities in a state of exhaustion. They recorded Parallel Lines in 6 weeks, even though the label had funded them for 6 months, but damned if everything didn’t come together. Chapman had been riding the band hard, adamant that they simply weren’t playing well enough, and needed to step up or get out.
At the same time, he was being very careful with Debbie, who he saw was pushing herself into emotional places she’d never gone, so he rarely asked for more than a few takes a day from her.
The drive to the finish line was coming from Debbie herself. Sometimes she’d disappear for hours, crying alone, other times, finishing songs while standing at the mic. She KNEW what she wanted, and Chapman knew they were getting it on wax. The songs speak for themselves: “Heart of Glass”, “One Way or Another”, “Hanging On The Telephone”, “Sunday Girl”, and more.
(Fripp’s appearance is on track 4, “Fade Away and Radiate”, a Chris Stein composition.)
But when Chapman took the finished record to Chrysalis, they rejected it! “There’s nothing here,” they said. Start over.” What the actual fuck.
One of the ways that Chapman earned his money on this was standing his ground, and insisting that was going to be major hit. Needless to say, he was right: over 20 million copies, including a run of 106 weeks on the US charts, their commercial breakthrough here.
And more important, damn near perfect in every way.