Magazines + Newspapers


22nd November 1986


Page 37

Rockbird (Chrysalis)

BLONDIE POSSESSED three great strengths: the VOICE, the TUNES and (maybe) the FACE. The Burchillian ‘eternal triangle’ theory of lips-eyes-nose never held much water with me, not owning a television set during Blondie’s glory years. The velvet lingering tones I first heard beckoning to me to POP music from my parent’s radio on the seminal ‘Denis’ held me in thrall, the FACE was quite unimportant. It is sad to relate then that this demi-goddess should choose to make her return to POP music with an album which seems dedicated to eradicating any trace of these tones.
‘Rockbird’ is the first Debbie Harry album is four years and her first solo venture since the disastrous ‘Koo Koo’ which prematurely announced a change of image and hence flopped dismally. It suffers throughout from unsympathetic arrangements which seem intent on smothering any semblance of identity and semi-decent tunes which would’t’ve made the grade for ‘AutoAmerican’.
The opening track, ‘I Want You’, beckons with plenty of promise – the voice is sassy as the old Harry charm shines through on a jaunty uptown number – but, unfortunately the promise isn’t fulfilled.
There are high spots: the “hello Joe whadooya know/I just got back from the animal show” line in ‘Rockbird’ is pure ‘Rip Her To Shreds’; the seductive ‘French Kissing”, which traces back remnants from my parent’s radio; the beautiful ballad, ‘Free To Fall’, where that refreshingly cool VOICE dips and wends its own path along some particularly trivial lyric-fodder; but these are sadly few between.
Most of the album sound indistinguishable from the latest Kim Wilde offering (sweet irony!) or a de-mystified Madonna… tracks such as ‘In Love With Love’ (where Chris Stein gets on of his three co-written credits) which pales out side one, or ‘Buckle Up’, which is swamped under a fidgeting beat and up-beat downer horns… it’s only those moments where the VOICE is allowed to stand out that the album comes alive.
It’s appropriate that the (singularly unimaginative) ‘concept’ sleeve should have an Andy Warhol backdrop on it; two lost icons of, er, ‘pop-art’ passing their senility together in splendid gracelessness. The image has become too divorced for the photo to have much meaning. The voice which held me in thrall all those years ago is still in existence, but sadly quietened.
The Legend!

Page 52
One page Virgin Records ad for the album Rockbird

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