Melody Maker - 10th July 1993
Melody Maker - July 10th 1993
Reviewed by Chris Roberts
"DEBRAVITY" would've been preferable, but then nobody asked me.
Well, first the facts, coolly and objectively. Deborah Harry is always and forever God, inless you have a termite's sense of humour. Now some other facts. The fourth solo album (they've spanned 12 years), "Debravation" utilises Chris Stein, Arthur Baker, Anne Dudley and others, and is a sensible attempt to consolidate fields ploughed by 1989's "Def Dumb And Blonde" (seems like yesterday). At times too sensible in that it's something of a Jill of all trades - rock, pop, dance, rap, etc. The dodgy moments are the kind of things someone as partisan as myself will skilfully gloss over; the great moments are of course as good as anything in the history of pop anywhere ever. As I write, today is Deborah's 48th birthday.
The Gloria Swanson performance on "TOTP" aside, "I Can See Clearly" is a mere preamble (although if the lyrics were by Bernard Sumner everyone would say it was state of the art). "Stability" is where this record gets on to get off - it's a Nineties kid sister to "Rapture", which has me in hideously embarrassing throes of euphoria, writing six novels, snogging the cat, chanting, "Me 1 World )", y'know, all the usual stuff. It boasts teasing tight-assed Chic/Sister Sledge guitars and an absurd scattergun Noo Yokk rap by Madam, which sets her up as queen bee to fly girls and includes such splendid fourishes as, "Why am I still denigrated when I should be venerated?"
"Strike Me Pink", a hovering "Brite Side" haze, forces me to quote: "When you call me angel, I'll freeze like a statuette/Hmm, they'll point and say I look very real". We're talking context, right?
However, "Communion" is this album's zenith. An exquisite interface of sacred and profane, it builds to the most irresistible chorus since The Bee Gees' "Tragedy" (so call me Mr Indie Guru). It begs you to take its body, drink its blood, "do it... so you won't forget me". It moves me as much as Diana Ross2 "Remember Me", which is the highest accolade I could bestow on man or beast. And, yes, it's more over the top than Hillary and Tenzing - that's the point. Next to this, "Bat Out Of Hell" is whimsical. On the basis of this track alone, Harry (as I feel I can call her) is 1993's most promising newcomer.
Nothing matches it, although "Standing In My Way" reminds us who invented the word "sassy", and "The Fugitive" is a fairground ride on the darkside. "Dog Star Girl" dextrously marries Stein's buttock-juddering electro to sci-fi writer William Gibson's lyrics. If anyone can make "Oh Johnny let me be your dog star girl" sound deep, it's this immortal, Picasso to Kat'n'Courtney's Bill and Eric who've popped round to paint your outside toilet, luv. Maturing trash goddesses don't fade away, they just radiate.