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Debbie Harry is best known as the lead singer of Blondie. 'Debravation' was one of her solo albums, which hit the Billboard charts in 1993. Over the years she has continued to stay in the limelight and still has a loyal fan following. This album features 14 tracks including 'Strike Me Pink', 'Lip Service', 'Tear Drops' & 'Standing In My Way'. Wounded Bird. 2005.
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For the first half, there is an emphasis on dance, while things get moodier and rockier on the second. (The 2005 re-release includes 2 additional songs at the end -`Tear Drops' and `My Last Date'.)
Influential early hip hop producer, Arthur Baker, co-wrote, and produced the opening adult-oriented dance single, `I Can See Clearly', setting the tone for most of the first six songs. `Lip Service', co-written with and produced by Toni C, whom Harry had written with on her previous 2 albums (`Sweet and Low' on `Def, Dumb and Blonde', and `I Want You' on `Rockbird'), is a slightly nutty up-tempo dance track that pauses hilariously in the middle for Harry to recite lines from Edgar Allan Poe's `The Raven'. Former Art of Noise member, Anne Dudley produced the loungey, sassy `Strike Me Pink', as well as `Mood Ring', its companion piece in the second half - both slow, moody pieces that up the class quotient of the set and are among its finest songs.
Former partner and Blondie member, Chris Stein, also co-wrote with Harry and produced four of the remaining songs - all rockier than the rest - including the darkly threatening album closer, `Dog Star Girl', co-written with cyber punk author, William Gibson.
Realistically, the different styles and sounds on `Debravation' don't really fit together well, so the album tends to feel a bit disjointed. At the same time, there is not a bad song among them. After an 18 year association, Chrysalis Records dumped Harry when this one flopped. But that does not mean `Debravation' is not worthy of a place in any Harry/ Blondie fan's collection.
"Debravation" is a step up from it's predecessor, 1989's "Def Dumb & Blonde". On this album, Debbie seems to have figued out how to balance her desire to experiment with the record company's demand for the perfect album. And instead of trying to avoid being associated with Blondie, she readily uses their best skill of various styled songs to produce an album that actually seems more sure of her solo abilities.
As on "Def Dumb & Blonde", "Debravation" utilizes multiple producers and outside collaborators. But this time, they are more involved than on the previous disc. By using the other artists more and Chris Stein less, Debbie is finally able to do a Debbie Harry album.
"Debravation" has contributions of very talented yet under appreciated musicians such as Anne Dudley from Art Of Noise (on "Strike Me Pink") and Jon Astley (on "Keep On Going"). Also lending his skills is current Blondie bassist Leigh Foxx, who co-wrote the high-energy rocker "Standing In My Way". Add to this the still important genius of Chris Stein (who else would think to set Willam Gibson to futuristic funk?) and you get the most intriguing solo effort since "KooKoo" in 1981. And this one seems less afraid of the Blondie legacy than any of her recordings during her hiatus. "Debravation" is able to run a parallel line along side any Blondie release. It shows that Debbie was more than just a pretty face to sell the product of some very talented men. She was as much a force in Blondie as Chris, Jimmy, Clem, Gary, Nigel or Frank and this album is the proof.
Now, it is known among the devotees that Debbie and Chris weren't totally satisfied with this album. But that goes with the territory in a business where true geniuses are locked in a mortal battle for control of their artistic souls with record company executives, who prefer to churn out mindless repetition of that artist's first successful hit. That struggle is why you get songs like "Rain" and "Communion". But these two compromises should not be used to discredit an entire album. Rather, the listener should admire what Debbie was able to do to both tweak the listener's ear (with the "saintly" smuttiness of the latter song) and still please her label. Debbie embraces the supposed Madonna knock-off "Communion", and it really comes across as very conscious effort to do to Madonna for one song what Madonna has done to Debbie for her entire career. I say brava!
This CD is really worth adding to your collection, whether you are grooming yourself to be a Deb-head or are just a casual listener wanting to hear something other than another teeny-bopper concoction.