Melody Maker


7th April 1990

Page 24


FEW are born to stardom. Many have stardom thrust upon them. One is Deborah Harry.
Consider this: prior to the cool dazzle of “Def Dumb & Blonde”, she was involved in three albums that were, from any kind of rational perspective, absolute turkeys. She’s over 40. She’s been working with the bloody Thompson Twins. She plays on our nostalgia by doing old stuff.
She’s committing damn near every crime possible in the great pop scheme of things and no one, but no one, has an unkind word to say about her. Her detractors, if there are any, are keeping their mouths shut. This has to mean something.
And tonight there’s more, as there was last night. Like: she doesn’t do the best stuff from the new record (“End Of The Run” and “Maybe For Sure”, if you’re interested, and you should be); she does a ghastly cover go JB’s lumpen “Sex Machine”; she and Stein indulge in some cringeworthy theatrics during an otherwise heroically rocking’ tilt at the Velvets’ “I’m Waiting For Me Man”, which involve (wince) Debbie tying off with the mike lead and jacking up on Stein’s guitar neck; she finishes by removing her tee-shirt and exiting wearing rather little, a move which would ensure Wendy J critical tar and feathers from here to the hereafter. She can’t dance either. Tina Turner, says someone next to me, and though I poke her very hard in the eye at the time, the odd thing is it’s a comparison with some scant traces of validity.
BUT. But but but but but. This is Deborah Harry, like Deborah Harry, we’re discussing here, and so all of your normal human mortal-scale reference points can therefore be summarily defenestrated, along with your worries that you’d turned up merely to watch your last untarnished her dissolve in a grey puddle of mediocrity. As has been amply demonstrated, there’s at least three paragraphs worth of reasons why you could reasonably be dreading such a debunking, but from the moment the great lady (scratch that: greatest) strolls on, this myth was always going to strut off intact.
So she does it, yes. How? Who knows? That she’s got a truly stunning pop canon to dip into by way of back catalogue must help. Heck, how brilliant must it be to be able to do “In The Flesh”, “Dreaming”, “Rapture”, “The Tide Is High” in one set, never mind as your first four songs. (Rhetorical, no question mark.) So many people want to believe in her so much can’t hurt, either. Why? Well…
It’s an argument that can run around in circles whooping with mad glee unto eternity, but in the end it’s got to come back to that tangled wreck of badly-bleached split ends and the person underneath it.
When that person is Deborah Harry, brightest blazing pop star (star, star, STAR) ever, who once fronted the sharpest pop band ever, and when that person can still roll on the floor and kick her legs in the air (the buzzbomb blitzkrieg “Comic Books” / “Detroit 442” / “Bike Boy” medley), or play the wastrel torch singer (“Calamarie”, “Brite Side”) or trash a pop song with the sort of half-smiling disrespect you can only muster for those you know and love (everything else), when that person can do all that and even f*** up a little and still exit a God in your eyes…
More circles. That person can only be Deborah Harry. There is no other.

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