One of our most vibrant and fearless musicians, an absolute living legend. “X Offender” has always been my favorite Blondie song but the margin is slim, and nearly everything else she’s sang comes in second.
Have your cake and eat it too, Deb. You deserve it.
One Way Ticket
This is the band that originally did “Hanging On The Telephone,” the song Blondie covered to above average success on their 1978 album Parallel Lines. I didn’t even know that song was a cover until earlier this year. I guess I was blinded by Debbie Harry’s shimmering beauty…or Clem Burke’s strange Ewok hair.
The Nerves released one self-titled EP in 1976 and then faded into new wave obscurity. This year, Alive Records remastered that singular Nerves EP, threw on a bunch of extra demos and live tracks, and released the final product as One Way Ticket. Humanity now has a concrete digital document of the gooey L.A. power pop trio that helped pave the way for groups like the Knack and [OTHER SKINNY TIE BAND CIRCA 1981]. Hooray.
Power pop is such a weird term. Like, these guys are aggressively melodic. They’re mainstream, but they’re not wimps! It comes across as being loaded with latent machismo. I bet a guy who wore lots of sleeveless shirts coined that term.
ANYWAY, the standout track on One Way Ticket is, of course, “Hanging On The Telephone.” That song paints a brilliant picture of pained teenage anticipation with a vocal / melody combo that’s both achingly cute and desperate. That’s probably why Blondie chose to record their own version of it as opposed to, oh, say, “Paper Dolls” or the watery “When You Find Out.” Indeed, the rest of the Nerves’ material leans a little too heavily on non-threatening sixties-inspired guitar jangle, the kind of musical Gerber’s they cram between the Supremes and the Beatles on oldies stations. Blecch.
Occasionally Das Nerves (who, for the record, consisted of singer / guitarist Jack Lee, bassist Peter Case, and drummer Paul Collins) strike up a driving beat that forces out the shimmies, shakes, Shemps, and Smurfs. I speak of songs like “Walking Out On Love” and the Replacementy “It’s Hot Outside.” Most of the time, though, this One Way Ticket will make you regret not opting for round trip. OHHHHH, BURRRRRRRRRRN. What a bitchy thing to say. That’s like something you’d read in a fashion magazine. This kitten has CLAWS!!
Hey, did you know there was a guy in the Knack named Prescott Niles? Did you know there was another guy in the Knack named Berton Averre? Jesus, were they a band or a country club? To steal a phrase from a former roommate, sheeshamundo.
Any way, final score for the Nerves: one and a half obscure white guys (out of four). Now enjoy a video of two-thirds of the original Nerves playing “Hanging On The Telephone” in a record store somewhere:
Now here’s the super-famous Blondie version, which oddly enough was the soundtrack to the corporate dissatisfaction I experienced a few years ago at Harcourt School Publishers (long, stupid story):