Top Artists – Blondie

Blondie – Parallel Lines

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Reviews and Commentaries for Parallel Lines

  • With a Triple Plus (A+++) Shootout Winning side one and a Double Plus (A++) side two, this copy had some of the best sound we have ever heard for Parallel Lines
  • The energy and enthusiasm of the band on this Retro Power Pop Classic really comes through here, and that’s not a claim you can make about very many copies
  • There’s not a bad song to be found anywhere, and lots of great ones: One Way Or Another, Heart Of Glass, Hanging On The Telephone, etc.
  • 5 stars: “Blondie’s best album,” which is actually a bit of an understatement – it’s by far their best album

All the Blondie magic you could ever want is in these grooves. The truly powerful sound of this Power Pop Classic really comes through on this bad boy — and that’s simply not a claim you could make about too many copies out there in record land, which tend to be flat, opaque and compressed. Not so here. This one just plain ROCKS.

Can this kind of music get any better? This album is a MASTERPIECE of Pure Pop, ranking right up there with The Cars first album. I can’t think of many albums from the era with the perfect blend of writing, production and musicianship under the guidance of producer Mike Chapman (The Knack) Blondie achieved with Parallel Lines.

As expected, if you clean and play enough copies of a standard domestic major label album such as Parallel Lines eventually you will stumble upon The One, and boy did we ever. The very best copies in our recent shootout were OFF THE CHARTS with presence, breathy vocals, and punchy drums. On top of that they were positively swimming in studio ambience, with every instrument occupying its own space in the mix and surrounded by air. (more…)

Blondie – Eat To The Beat

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  • Stunning sound for the band’s follow up to Parallel Lines with both sides of this original pressing earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades or or close to them – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Turn it up as loud as you want – the top end and vocals are balanced, smooth and tonally correct, not gritty or edgy
  • The drums and bass of Die Young Stay Pretty are as real sounding as if you were standing five feet from the band
  • 4 1/2 stars: “The British… made Eat to the Beat another chart-topper, with three major hits, including a number one ranking for Atomic and almost the same success for Dreaming.”

This is Mike Chapman’s Big Beat Sonic Masterpiece — yes, the sound is actually bigger and better than the sound on Parallel Lines — akin to the debuts of The Knack and The Cars, and every bit as huge and punchy as either.

Eat to the Beat lives and dies by its energy, its bass and above all by its transient snap. The drums and bass of Die Young Stay Pretty are as real sounding as if you were standing five feet in front of the band. On the best copies it’s hard to imagine that song sounding any better. The drum and bass are massive in their attack. It’s the very definition of punch. (more…)

Autoamerican (and Lots of Other Records) Need Their Space, Man

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The Space in the Middle

Allow us to present a key finding we discovered while playing so many of these LPs. I’m sure you’ve noticed this effect on some of your favorite recordings as well. In this case it’s the one quality that allowed some copies to soar while others were left grounded.

About halfway through the session I noticed that the copies with the most top end extension and the deepest bass had another quality which was even more involving: they left more SPACE in the middle for every other element of the mix to occupy. There was no CROWDING in other words. This may be the result of less compression in the mastering phase; compression tends to richen up the sound, but it has an unfortunate tendency to jam it all together in the middle as well.

Or it just may be higher resolution, so that the space around all the elements is clearly reproduced. Or it may be equalization, so that the higher parts of the bass stay down and the lower parts of the highs stay up, keeping both from seeping into the midrange.

Who knows what it is? One thing I can tell you is this: it sure is easy to HEAR it. Big as life, with spaciousness and three-dimensionality to beat the band, the sound on this “open middle” copy simply was in a league of its own. Perhaps you know that sound from your own favorite recordings. It’s the kind of thing that turns a good pop album into a Demo Disc. (more…)

Letter of the Week – Blondie’s Autoamerican – “Rapture was out of this world”

Autoamerican

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:

Hey Tom,  

I played Autoamerican tonight finally. It’s supposed to have an issue but I sure as hell didn’t hear it. I don’t remember what the issue was supposed to be. But it’s a WHS and man o man does it sound good. Rapture was out of this world.

Mike S.

Blondie / Parallel Lines on EMI, Simply Vinyl and Mobile Fidelity – Three Strikes and You’re Out

Sonic Grade: D or worse

EMI and Simply Vinyl both released Heavy Vinyl versions of the album with little sonic success. I remember being underwhelmed by the Simply Vinyl version, the perfect example of the smeary sub-gen sound you get when a record is made from a dub tape. The EMI 180 was brighter and thinner and every bit as wrong in its own way. Choosing among them would have been difficult. The best choice: none of the above. 

As is so often the case, the Heavy Vinyl Reissues are simply a disgrace.

MOBILE FIDELITY

Two words: compressed muck (like most domestic pressings, to be fair).

I became a giant fan of this album the moment I heard it, but I always felt that the sound of my old original left something to be desired. So many copies are thick and lifeless; the music wants to cook but the sound seems to be holding it back.

And like an idiot I’m sure I had traded my original domestic pressing in for the MoFi when it came out in the early ’80s, the kind of dumbass audiophile move I discuss in the commentary Audiophilia 101: What Kind of Fool Was I?

As previously noted, the MoFi, one of those Jack Hunt turgid muckfests (check out City to City #058 for the ultimate in murky MoFi sound), is incapable of conveying anything resembling the kind of clean, clear, oh-so-radio-friendly pop rock sound that Mike Chapman and the band were aiming for.

The recording has copious amounts of Analog Richness and Fullness to start with. Adding more is not an improvement; in fact it’s positively ruinous.

Blondie / Parallel Lines – MoFi Debunked

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Reviews and Commentaries for Parallel Lines

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Audiophile Versions of This Album Suck (The Life Right Out of the Music)  

As previously noted, the MoFi, one of those Jack Hunt turgid muckfests (check out City to City #058 for the ulitimate in murky MOFI sound), is incapable of conveying anything resembling the kind of clear, radio-friendly pop rock sound that Chris Thomas and the band were aiming for. The recording has copious amounts of Analog Richness and Fullness to start with. Adding more is not an improvement; in fact it’s positively ruinous. (more…)

Blondie – Autoamerican – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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DEMO DISC SOUND on this A+++ Hot Stamper Side One! This is one KILLER New Wave Pop Record. All the Blondie magic you could ever want is in these grooves! The truly POWERFUL sound of this Power Pop Band really comes through on this Bad Boy, or should we say Bad Girl? Whatever. This was the Hands Down Hot Stamper Winner of our latest shootout. Man, we had a ball with this one.

To be fair, consistency is the problem with this album, with some songs being absolute Pop Masterpieces (The Tide Is High on side one, Rapture on side two), but other tracks falling short of the standard set by Parallel Lines, where every track bar none was a gem of songcraft and High Gloss Pure Pop Production.

Still, what’s good is good, and the sound is STUNNING, with real Demo Disc qualities. The Right Pressing of the Right Stamper.

As expected, if you clean and play enough copies of a standard domestic major label album like this one, sooner or later you will stumble upon The One, and boy did we ever. One of our copies was OFF THE CHARTS with presence, breathy vocals, and punchy drums. It was positively swimming in studio ambience, with every instrument occupying its own space in the mix and surrounded by air. There was not a trace of grain, just the silky sweet highs we’ve come to expect from analog done right.

This is of course the premise behind Hot Stampers themselves. They are out there to be stumbled upon. You can’t tell what pressing from what era from what country is going to be The One (Keanu, are you listening?) until you actually sit down, clean and play a big pile of them. We found a source for this title sealed and managed to pick up over a dozen new copies, and those, along with some other used ones we had laying around, comprised our data pool. (more…)

Blondie / Parallel Lines – We Broke Through in 2016

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Reviews and Commentaries for Parallel Lines

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Can this kind of music get any better? This album is a MASTERPIECE of Pure Pop, ranking right up there with The Cars first album. I can’t think of many albums from the era with the perfect blend of writing, production and musicianship Blondie achieved with Parallel Lines.

As expected, if you clean and play enough copies of a standard domestic major label album like this one, sooner or later you will stumble upon The One, and boy did we ever.

This side two had OFF THE CHARTS with presence, breathy vocals, and punchy drums. It was positively swimming in studio ambience, with every instrument occupying its own space in the mix and surrounded by air.

There was not a trace of grain, just the silky sweet highs we’ve come to expect from analog done right.  (more…)