“Hanging On the Telephone”

ChucksELast summer I stumbled upon a 2006 single, on eMusic, by a female-fronted English punk band called Deadline. I was drawn, at first, to the cover art. Tattooed punk girl? I’m in. But, the cover is also an obvious homage to Blondie‘s 1978 album Parallel Lines.Deadline-01 The homage was because the A-side of the single is a cover of “Hanging On the Telephone”, which was a hit for the New York punk/new wave icons, and, one of my (many) all-time favorite songs. Deadline‘s punked-up version instantly became my second favorite version of that song. Blondie‘s version, by the way, is not my first favorite. The B-sides, “Pretences” [spelled just like that] and “Do You Think?”, both originals, were cool, too. And, of course, I was compelled to seek out more music from this band, which I did. Eventually, I’ll post about them, but, this random musing is about “Hanging On the Telephone”. So, first, listen to Deadline‘s version of the song here:

“Hanging On the Telephone” was written by Jack Lee and originally recorded by his seminal, but short-lived, power pop trio The Nerves with Peter Case and Paul Collins. The song appeared on that band’s one and only EP, The Nerves, in 1976 on Bomp! Records. Listen to The Nerves‘ original version of the song here:

After the breakup of The Nerves, both Paul Collins and Peter Case went on to form more popular power pop bands. Paul Collins formed The Beat whose 1979 self-titled debut yielded their best known song “Walking Out On Love”, while Peter Case formed The Plimsouls who, as far as I am concerned, was one of the best power pop bands ever!Blondie-02 The Plimsouls had a minor hit with their song “A Million Miles Away” which was featured on the soundtrack to the 1983 teen flick Valley Girl (with young Nicolas Cage). The band even appeared in the film. However, mainstream success eluded The Plimsouls, and eventually Peter Case became a modern folk troubadour. However, Jack Lee‘s biggest legacy became “Hanging On the Telephone” after Blondie‘s recording reached #5 on the UK singles charts in November 1978. Blondie‘s version, highlighted by singer Deborah Harry‘s awesome vocals, is the most popular version of the song, and, because of it, most of the (many) covers since have been by female artists. But, before I talk about a few of my favorites, watch Blondie‘s video for “Hanging On the Telephone” here:

OK, my first favorite version of “Hanging On the Telephone” is by all-female ’90s grunge band L7. Their punky grunge version, fueled by singer Donita Sparks‘ snotty vocals, was featured on the soundtrack to the movie The Jerky Boys in 1995. I have not seen that movie, nor do I ever intend to, but L7‘s contribution is awesome. L7‘s most well-known song is “Pretend We’re Dead” from the album Bricks Are Heavy (1992), but, the band was one of the best all-female grunge bands of the era. Watch a video (not made by L7) for their version here:

Speaking of grunge, ’90s female-fronted Polish rock band Hey recorded “Hanging On the Telephone” for their album [Sic!] (2001). Hey is considered to be the first Polish grunge band, and their version of the song is pretty grungy and pretty awesome. Polish rock music is, sometimes, difficult to acquire and that sucks. Anyway, listen to Hey‘s cool version here:

Sinergy, a Finnish power metal band fronted by American musician Kimberly Goss (who played keyboards in Norwegian black metal band Dimmu Borgir), recorded an excellent metal version of “Hanging On the Telephone”, which appears on their album To Hell and Back (2000). Listen to their version here:

In 2005, American singer/songwriter Cat Power (aka Chan Marshall) recorded a slower acoustic version of “Hanging On the Telephone”, yet to be released, that was used in a Cingular commercial. Her version is a re-imagining of that classic, and it works. I hope it gets released. Watch the Cingular commercial here:

Female-fronted German psychobilly band Bonsai Kitten included a pretty cool version of “Hanging On the Telephone” on their album Welcome To My World (2012). Listen to that version here:

Finally, I found an unbelievably awesome cover of “Hanging On the Telephone” by Big Balls & The Great White Idiot, a German punk band formed in 1975! Their version of the song, released in 2010, features RUNA on vocals. I don’t know who she is, but, I want to know more about her! Watch the video for their version here:

OK, there you go! If you’ve read this entire random musing and listened to every version of “Hanging On the Telephone” I’ve included here, then this great song should be stuck in your head for months. You’re welcome.

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4 responses to ““Hanging On the Telephone”

  1. Pingback: Groovy Retro Cool! | My Heart Explodes·

  2. Pingback: The Sex Pissed Dolls « My Heart Explodes·

  3. Pingback: Deadline « Girls, Guns & Zombies!·

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