press articles, interviews and reviews from the Web
Sun-Sentinel - 11th November 2007
Debbie Harry drops an age-defying solo album
Debbie Harry in Manhattan on Oct. 8, 2007. Harry, who on Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2007, will release her first solo album in 15 years, sounds surprisingly youthful and current for a 60-year-old. (Tyler Hicks, NYT / October 15, 2007)
By Len Righi | The Allentown Morning Call
Over the past year and a half, Debbie Harry did something she hasn't done since 1993 — record a solo album. Necessary Evil, released last month, includes a whopping 17 tracks and almost 65 minutes of music. And like a world-class athlete with age- defying muscle memory, Harry pulls it off almost without breaking a sweat.
In fact, to hear her tell it, the 62-year-old singer could have pushed herself even further.
"I wished we could have worked longer on more stuff," says Harry, who became a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer fronting Blondie, the signature pop band to emerge from the American new wave of the mid-1970s. In this case, "we" refers to Super Buddha, the New York production duo of Barb Morrison and Charles Nieland, who played all the instruments, collaborated on the songwriting and produced the CD, her sixth solo effort.
Harry credits Morrison's power balladIf I Had You with "putting us on the track of making a CD."
"I don't think she wrote it specifically for me," says Harry. "It was about her breaking up with someone she had been dating. But I had told her, 'You never play me any of your stuff,' and when I heard If I Had You, I said, 'I really want to sing that.'"
Harry says that her manager, after hearing her version of the song, suggested she do a whole CD.
Two Times Blue, the first single and the disc's leadoff track, calls to mind Blondie's fire-and-ice romance songs, with Harry's alluring, world-wise vocal and easy wordplay riding a crest of exuberant instrumentation.
"It's a straight-ahead pop song," says Harry. "Charlie wrote the music, and I woke up one morning — practically the same day he wrote the music — and came up with the hook. ... The words fell off the tip of my tongue."
The teasing mid-tempo shimmy You're Too Hot features Harry proclaiming "Don't touch me, you're too hot!" with ever-increasing fervor, putting across multiple states of arousal with her voice.
"We were having a great night," she recalls, "and I said [to Morrison and Nieland], 'Don't touch me, you're too hot.' It was something I used to say to a guy I was seeing a long time ago. It was just a funny moment. But Barb and Charlie said, 'This is great! Let's do something with it.' They're free, ready to go in any direction.
"And I wanted to do something strippers could dance to on the pole."
The phrase "Don't touch me, you're too hot!" also turns up, albeit delivered more coolly, on Dirty and Deep, a spare, sinewy club track where Harry, half-rapping and half-singing, is in full-on seduction mode.
"That originally started as a song about Lil' Kim," says Harry, referring to the rapper who was convicted in 2005 of conspiracy and perjury for lying to a grand jury about her friends' involvement in a 2001 shooting outside a Manhattan radio station.
"She was just getting out [in mid-2006] and I wanted to do something for her. I made her into the Oracle of Delphi, except she was the Oracle of Wi-Fi. She was behind a wall; people could not see her, just hear her voice. I'm not saying she did the right or wrong thing. She was caught between two worlds. Her predicament was operatic."
Harry says the original Down and Dirty received some club action, "so when it came time to record my album, I really wanted to use that track, but I decided to rewrite the verses and change it a bit."
Although Blondie was never a punk band per se, the group could rock with a punker's edge, with Harry supplying the sexy vocal sneer. On Necessary Evil, Harry's punk side colors Whiteout.
"It's about finding somebody you might be interested in, but they're more interested in drugs," says Harry. "'The bride in the aisle' [lyric] is sort of an oblique reference to cocaine."
Necessary Evil also includes two contributions from Blondie co-founder and guitarist Chris Stein, Harry's longtime creative partner and former beau.
Stein produced and played on Jen Jen, a snakey dance track he wrote based on an African work chant, and Naked Eye, a pop song that Harry reworked.
Harry is touring behind Necessary Evil with a small band. The monthlong outing, which comes Friday to the Fillmore on Miami Beach, showcases only solo material.
Though Harry and Blondie have been absent from the charts for long stretches — the band's 2004 disc, Curse of Blondie, didn't even get a U.S. release — Harry remains an icon. Model Sophie Dahl recently caused a sensation by transforming herself into the Blondie singer for the November issue of British Vogue.
Perhaps ironically, Necessary Evil includes a song about gossipmongers and sensationalizers, School for Scandal.
"The title comes from [Richard Sheridan's 1777] play, and seems so apropos for what is going on today," says Harry. "It's even more extreme today than it was years ago. Scandal seems to be the only way to get a lot of attention. I'm guess I'm getting a little old. It seems boring to me. I want real scandal, not trumped-up stuff."
If you go
Deborah Harry performs at 8:30 p.m. Friday at
Fillmore at Gleason, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets $37.50, $40. Call Ticket-master (561-966-3309, 954-523-3309, 305-358-5885).
Sun-Sentinel - 11th November 2007