Lost in the ’70s: The Nerves

lit70s

I bought and fell in love with Blondie’s Parallel Lines album when I was around ten years old, and always wondered who the mysterious “Lee” was who was credited for writing the disc’s driving opener, “Hanging On The Telephone.”   As a youngster, I pored over the album credits, noticing that no one in the band was named Lee – where did this great song come from?

It wasn’t until many years and lots of Rolling Stone and Musician magazines later that I learned the answer.  “Hanging On The Telephone” (download) was the lead-off track from Los Angeles-based power pop trio The Nerves’ only release, a self-titled  four-track EP from 1976.  Guitarist Jack Lee was the mysterious “Lee” who wrote “Hanging,” but each member of The Nerves ended up making their mark on power pop.  Lee went on to write more songs, including another Blondie track “Will Anything Happen” and “Come Back And Stay” for Paul Young in 1983.

Drummer Paul Collins wrote a song called “Working Too Hard” on the EP, but went on to form Paul Collins’ Beat, another well-regarded power pop combo.

And the third Nerve, Peter Case, who wrote “When You Find Out” (download) on the EP, formed The Plimsouls, most famous for their single, “A Million Miles Away.”  Case went on to have a critically acclaimed, if not commercially successful solo career.  Collins continues to perform with a new version of Paul Collins’ Beat.  Lee scored a hit in 1983 with Paul Young, recorded a solo album in 1985, then disappeared from the music business.  The Nerves EP, along with other demos and unreleased tracks, finally appeared on CD late last year on a compilation called One Way Ticket.

So, which version of “Hanging On The Telephone” do you prefer?  While I grew up with the Blondie version, I have to say, I quite like the tension and uncertainty, along with the rough edges of The Nerves’ version.  Cast your vote!

No single charted.

Get Nerves music at Amazon or on The Nerves




  • http://mostlymodernmedia.wordpress.com Beau

    The Blondie version has four advantages: Debbie Harry, Jimmy Destri, Clem Burke and Debbie Harry.

  • http://www.wordsandrewtonkin.com Andrew Tonkin

    Beau: Chris Stein is looking for you.

  • http://mostlymodernmedia.wordpress.com Beau

    I didn't mention Stein because I thought the guitar in the original was pretty good. Destri added some nice touches, Burke was a vast improvement on drums, and Debbie Harry was a massive improvement on vocals.

  • http://www.drcastrato.blogspot.com drcastrato

    thanks for posting this. i always loved blondies version too, but this one is pretty rad.

  • Thierry

    While the sound quality is sometimes subpar (espectially on some of the live tracks), that whole Nerves compilation is well worth seeking out for fans of the garagey end of American power pop (like, say, the Real Kids or any of the other bands on the Rhino D.I.Y. Come Out and Play compilation).

  • Thierry

    While the sound quality is sometimes subpar (espectially on some of the live tracks), that whole Nerves compilation is well worth seeking out for fans of the garagey end of American power pop (like, say, the Real Kids or any of the other bands on the Rhino D.I.Y. Come Out and Play compilation).

  • Reint

    The Blondie version, definitely. Of course I must give The Nerves credit for writing but the Blondie version just sounds more fresh, better produced (but still raw and punky) and more alluring. I think that's the beauty that can happen with covering songs. You add some of your own and it can change in something totally new. When you hear the Blondie version first, you just think ''Where did that came from, how was this written?''

  • Reint

    The Blondie version, definitely. Of course I must give The Nerves credit for writing but the Blondie version just sounds more fresh, better produced (but still raw and punky) and more alluring. I think that's the beauty that can happen with covering songs. You add some of your own and it can change in something totally new. When you hear the Blondie version first, you just think ''Where did that came from, how was this written?''