Miley Cyrus’ latest image reinvention has taken the tough, spunky ’80s frontwoman (think Pat Benatar) and thrust it into the 21st Century. So it’s very appropriate that she’s covered several turn-of-the-’80s songs for recent TV appearances.
Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!
It’s been a mere 41 years since Parallel Lines was released, a fact that finds this writer flat on his back. How can it possibly be that long? But is is and it was, 1978 being a particularly good year for Blondie, themselves already far from spring chickens.
Debbie Harry, astonishingly already 33, just two years younger than Mick Jagger (and two older than Ronnie Wood), was the mother hen of the band, together with her partner, Chris Stein, half a decade younger. The pair of them and drummer Clem Burke, were the heart of the band, and the only omnipresent members, rounded out at that time by keyboardist Jimmy Destri, guitarist Frank Infante, and bassist Nigel Harrison. Of course they all hated each other and all hated their producer, Mike Chapman, drafted in for this record to widen their appeal.
This would be the band’s third album, the first two having been helmed by Richard Gottehrer, who maximized their punky charm and promise, turning them into the counter-intuitive leaders of the pack at and from Max’s Kansas City and CBGB’s. Chapman, an Australian, had produced UK chart toppers like the Sweet, exiled Music City maven Suzi Quatro, and Mud; he was immensely successful, but looked down upon by any serious musician or fan.
In truth, they didn’t actually all hate each other, Stein was allegedly far too stoned to know much of what was going on, but there was no love lost elsewhere, not least as Chapman felt that Infante was the only one up to it, musically. Burke could not keep time, it seemed; Destri couldn’t play; and whatever Harrison could or couldn’t do, Chapman’s criticism was enough to have Harrison throw a synthesiser at him. But Harry could sing, that much Chapman could sense, carefully restricting her involvement to both protect her voice and prevent costly meltdowns, weeping in the restroom.
Despite all of this, Parallel Lines still came in a full 4 months ahead of schedule, and, amazingly, this line-up and Chapman went on to make four more albums before the band’s 1982 disintegration. It wasn’t until 15 years later they reformed, the original trio with (for a while) Destri, augmented by any number of additional sidemen. They still play on.
In late 1997, a Michigan trio of teenagers calling themselves 400 Pounds of Punk released their only album, a five-song cassette called He Once Ate A Small Child. Calling it obscure puts it mildly; until today, there was no mention of this release anywhere on the internet. “I doubt more than a half-dozen people even knew about it,” writes Third Man Records co-founder Ben Blackwell (that’s him on the left in the photo) on Discogs. Blackwell has changed that, posting a track from it in honor of Cassette Week. That track, a raw and rocking cover of Blondie’s “One Way or Another,” features a young Jack White on vocals.
Long-running British synth-pop duo Erasure completed their “World” trilogy of albums with last month’s release of World Be Live. The 24-track live album was recorded earlier this year in London, where the band was touring in support of the outfit’s seventeenth studio album, 2017’s World Be Gone.
With a deep catalog of originals and hits stretching over three decades, singer Andy Bell and founder/keyboardist Vince Clarke have plenty of crowd-pleasing material from which to choose. So choosing the Blondie song “Atomic” as the sole cover performed on the current tour says a lot about Bell’s admitted affection for the iconic 80s new wave band.
That’s A Cover? explores cover songs that you may have thought were originals.
If you’re a fan of power pop – roughly speaking, the place where early rock n’ roll, ‘60s bubblegum, and the British Invasion converge – then Blondie probably ranks high on your list of faves. Refracting modern rock through multiple lenses – ’50s pop, ’60s girl groups and ’70s punk, to name a few – the band sucked you in with clever, poppy melodies while maintaining a distance sharpened by dark, ironic humor.
If it doesn’t quite represent their commercial peak, the band’s 1978 album Parallel Lines is without much doubt their finest work, crashing out of the gate with “Hanging on the Telephone,” a near-perfect snapshot of illicit romance and sexual frustration, come and gone in 2 minutes 17 seconds.
Texas’s Toadies first broke through in 1994 with their classic “Possum Kingdom,” an anthem for rural stalker-murderers everywhere. Twenty years later, they’re still going strong with a new album, Heretics, out this month. It features reimagined versions of fan favorites including, yes, “Possum Kingdom,” plus plenty of songs with equally creepy titles like “Queen of Scars” and “Dollskin.” One song that wouldn’t seem as creepy is a cover of Blondie‘s “Heart of Glass” – but it turns out they made that dark too – similar to what they did with LCD Soundsystem a few years back.