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MiamiHerald.com - Friday 12th October 2007

DEBORAH HARRY

Necessary Evil

Eleven Seven Music

No stars

Buyer beware: The name Deborah Harry no longer has anything in common with the leader of the beloved New Wave group Blondie, at least not in the studio.

The iconic singer's new album Necessary Evil (and one is tempted to insert ''Un'' in front of the title) is simply an unlistenable mess. It's also unrecognizable: Harry's vocals have deteriorated to a cross between Stevie Nicks' hoarse meandering and Pink's affected, tough-girl rasp.

What's worse, the 62-year-old Harry has resorted to embarrassingly salacious profanities, a fatal attempt to give her material some sort of edge. On School for Scandal, she leers, ''The devil's d- - - is hard to handle'' in an annoyingly nasal tone reminiscent of Chasing Amy star Joey Lauren Adams. Dirty and Deep, a failed effort at club-jumping hip-hop, of all things, offers the lines 'Comin' at my curlies with your wraparound thighs'' and ''Grease your zipper/Swat your fly/A hole in one/A big bull's-eye.'' The effect is almost as sexy as an aging senator with a wide stance. Almost.

Even when Harry isn't trying to sicken us, the result is laughable. The title track is cheesy hair-metal bravado, like what you would expect if Slash were kidnapped and forced to listen to Muzak for a month before writing a new song. On the limp ballad What is Love, Harry laments, ''Yesterday I knew what it was -- maybe tomorrow I'll know what it was.'' You're Too Hot is nothing but Harry sternly singing ''Don't touch me/You're too hot'' over and over and over, then adding childlike ''Nah, nah, nahs,'' while Heat of the Moment consists entirely of the singer warbling the title tunelessly overtop Tarzan jungle rhythms.

When the final track Paradise breaks out the smooth-jazz sax solo and Harry sings ''I just set myself on fire,'' you can't help but wish it were only true.

Pod Picks: None.

-- MICHAEL HAMERSLY

Link: MiamiHerald.com - Friday 12th October 2007


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