Lost in the '70s, Music
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Lost in the ’70s: The Nerves

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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