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theithacajournal.com - 10th November 2007
Rocker Deborah Harry steps beyond Blondie on solo tour
By Jim Catalano
ITHACA — As lead singer for Blondie, Deborah Harry has long been one of the most recognizable voices in pop music — think of hits such as “Call Me,” “Heart of Glass” and “One Way or Another.”
But she has never been one to rest on her laurels. Last month, she released a new solo album, “Necessary Evil,” which blends punk, pop, rock, dance and experimental influences with a contemporary approach to production.
“I wanted to make a distinct definition between my solo thing and Blondie,” said Harry in a phone interview earlier this week. On Monday night, she'll perform at the Magic City Music Hall in Johnson City as part of her month-long tour to promote the new CD.
Most of the songs on “Necessary Evil” were produced by the New York City team Super Buddha, Barb Morrison and Charles Nieland.
“I liked working with them a lot,” said Harry. “I got introduced to them by a friend and we really hit it off. The way they work was very compatible with the way I needed to work. I didn't have to book them a month and a half at a time; I could just call them up and see if they had a night. They work quickly and it was very efficient triumvirate of writers and performers. They play all the instruments as well.”
Blondie's Chris Stein also produced a couple of tracks.
Harry describes the album's theme. “In some ways they're about relationships and love, pretty much. I think most pop music is in that direction. ‘School for Scandal' is a little bit different, though. (There are) all different levels of emotional content,” she said with a laugh.
Some of the new album harks back to some of Blondie's more adventurous songs, such as 1979's “Rapture,” which demonstrated Harry's avant-garde tendencies even while in the pop mainstream. “Yeah, we tried to break some ground back then, and I think we did, actually,” she said.
Fourteen years had passed since Harry's last solo CD, “Debravation.”
“It just worked out that way,” she said of the hiatus. “I started doing the Blondie thing — we did a reunion, two albums, a couple of world tours, five or six European tours, and tours in the U.S. We went down to South America. We did a lot of touring in the past 10 years, so time really flew by.”
Thirty-one years after Blondie burst on the music scene, Harry is still making cutting-edge music. Did she think she'd be in the music business this long?
“I don't know if I ever really thought about it,” she said. “I will say that I always admired that musicians in other forms of music kept on playing throughout their lives. Like Ella Fitzgerald and the jazz greats who had long careers, Louis Armstrong and people like that. I can't really equate myself with those names, because they're so fantastic. But they did exemplify the beauty and power of having a long career.”
And she's not done yet.
“The next thing I do I would like to make even further away from the mainstream,” said Harry. “This (new album) I think is pretty normal, but I have some ideas that I think would be even a little bit more further out.”
If you go
Tickets for the 8 p.m. show are $25 in advance, $30 at the door. Visit www.magiccitymusichall.com or call 729-2323 for more information. Harry will be backed by a four-piece band at Monday's show, but don't expect to hear much Blondie material.
“It's not the Blondie band — I've had a longstanding relationship with my partners and I think it would be unethical of me to do a tour with different musicians playing Blondie songs,” Harry emphasized. “And I am promoting a solo project, so the logic of it stands for itself. I appreciate that people want to hear Blondie stuff, and I would love to do a Blondie tour, but you can't please everybody all the time.”
Magic City Music Hall co-owner Stuart Green said fans should expect some Blondie hits at Monday's Johnson City show: “That's what people want to hear,” he told the Binghamton Press and Sun Bulletin earlier this week.
“I've been told that promoters have been demanding that I do a couple of Blondie songs, so depending on the promoter and the venue, I will have to do a couple of Blondie songs,” said Harry. “But I'm not going to try to reproduce the Blondie sound at all; it will be totally different.”
theithacajournal.com - 10th November 2007