Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Nerves - "Hanging on the Telephone" (the song remains the same)

Although "Hanging on the Telephone" was popularized by Blondie, it was first released on The Nerves' eponymous, 1976 four song EP. Don't feel bad if you've never heard of them: The Nerves released this EP, toured briefly, established a template for new wave bands like The Knack, broke up, and then formed the basis for bands like The Beat (Paul Collins) and The Plimsouls (Peter Case).

The song was released as a single from Blondie's 1978 LP "Parallel Lines". Blondie is mostly remembered now for their songs that flirted with (arguably bordering on parodying) other genres such as hip hop ("Rapture"), reggae ("The Tide is High") and disco ("Heart of Glass"). Songs like "Hanging on the Telephone" remind the listener that Blondie was primarily a new wave band. Although I have contemporary memories of other singles from "Parallel Lines" (e.g., "One Way or Another") getting TV and radio play, I don't recall the same for "Hanging on the Telephone".

Other versions of the song are listed below, but they are all pretty close to the original. But when the original is two and half minutes of power pop perfection, why mess with it?

The Nerves: YouTube. This sounds like what I think The Beach Boys would have sounded like if they had started in 1976 instead of 1961.

Paul Collins and Peter Case: YouTube. Only Jack Lee is missing.

Blondie: YouTube; a live, 1979 version; a live, 1999 version from The Late Show with David Letterman.

The Beat: YouTube.

L7: YouTube. From the 1995 Jerky Boys soundtrack.

Def Leppard: YouTube. From their 2006 cover song LP, "Yeah!"

Bonus Tracks from the "The Nerves" EP: "When You Find Out", "Give Me Some Time", "Working Too Hard".

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