Duration: 50 minutes
First broadcast: Fri 29th Aug 2014, 21:00 on BBC Four
Repeat broadcast: Fri 25th Aug 2017, 21:40 on BBC Four HD
Blondie’s album Parallel Lines captured the spirit of 1970s New York at a time of poverty, crime and an exploding artistic life, selling 16 million copies. This is the story of that album, that time and that city, told primarily by the seven individuals who wrote, produced and performed it. It was a calculated and painstaking endeavour to produce sure-fire hits – whatever it took.
The film follows Debbie Harry and the rest of the Blondie crew as they head into the studio to record their game-changing album with producer Mike Chapman. It also features commentary from Harry herself about writing music, the media’s focus on her appearance and lyrically inspirational ex-boyfriends.
In 1978 the New York band Blondie had two punk albums behind them and were establishing a name for themselves at the club CBGBs on New York’s Lower East Side. Then Chrysalis Records exec Terry Ellis saw them and spent a massive $1m buying out their recording contract. He had to ensure that their next album was a hit – there was no room for error. To do this he brought in maverick Australian record producer Mike Chapman, who already had a string of hits under his belt. Mike’s job was to turn this crew of New York punks into world stars – but did they have the popular songs which would appeal to a wider non-punk audience?
At a time when rich creativity, grinding poverty and drug abuse were hand in hand on the sidewalks of the Lower East Side, the music and lyrics of Parallel Lines celebrated and captured this vibrant and edgy chemistry, shooting the band to international stardom.