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Vancouver Sun - 15th October 2007

CD REVIEW: Deborah Harry, Necessary Evil
More like, Unnecessary
Amy O'Brian

Deborah Harry
Eleven Seven Music
One star

Deborah Harry is a rock icon who would apparently like nothing more than to continue life in the public eye. 

The 62-year-old is still writing, recording and performing with the verve of musicians less than half her age. She pops up on morning television alongside Lily Allen. She toured this summer with Cyndi Lauper. She's outspoken in her support of gay rights. And she writes songs with more guts and raunchy innuendo than most of her young counterparts. 

But as much as we can respect Harry for what she has done in the past and what she is aiming to do now, it does not mean - unfortunately - that her music is any good. 

Harry's latest solo effort, Necessary Evil, is a tremendous disappointment. Not only is it far too long at 17 tracks, but it's full of rotten clichés, overly earnest vocals, and songwriting so simplistic - and downright bad - I felt shame while listening to it even when no one else could hear. 

According to recent interviews with the rock icon, she's referencing Greek myths, an 18th-century comedy of manners and the recent incarceration of rapper Lil' Kim on this album. 

The Blondie frontwoman has said Lil' Kim was the muse for the song Dirty and Deep, which is a cringe-inducing rap number that sounds like it's channelling Christina Aguilera in her dirrrtier days. "I'm a makeout artist, going to put you on my short list," Harry raps awkwardly. 

What is Love and If I Had You are ballads that might sound more appropriate sung by Kelly Clarkson or maybe a cleaned-up Britney Spears. 

Adding further weirdness to the mix, Jen Jen - a track towards the end of the album - features no Debbie Harry whatsoever, but is a beat-heavy rock number built around an African tribal chant. Harry's longtime partner and Blondie co-founder Chris Stein is responsible for that one. 

As much respect as Debbie Harry deserves for her place in rock history and what she's striving to do with this album, it simply doesn't work. Unfortunately, it is far more of an unnecessary evil than a necessary one.

Link: Vancouver Sun - 15th October 2007

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