Necessary Evil

Deborah Harry

Eleven Seven Records, 2007

REVIEW BY: Mark Millan


Deborah Harry is without doubt one of rock’s most recognizable and iconic figures.  As the lead singer of Blondie, Harry was so adored that the band was forced to issue buttons that simply stated “Blondie is a group” in order to gain a little recognition for their efforts. After Blondie’s demise in the early 1980’s, Harry nursed her then partner and fellow band mate Chris Stein back to health (following a severe bout of Pemphigus), all the while forging a respectable solo career for herself. Blondie has since reunited (in 1998), and after two studio releases and an almost constant touring schedule, Harry has recently released her fifth solo album, her latest since 1993’s Debravation.

Work begun on Necessary Evil sometime in 2006 with production duo Super Buddha joining forces with Harry to create an album that sounds new, edgy, and somewhat nostalgic all at once.  The album opens with “Two Times Blue,” one of her most pop moments ever, quickly proving that Harry’s vocal chords are as youthful and effervescent as ever. The sound here is stripped back to allow her voice to sparkle almost instantly, with the first chorus hitting us at exactly one minute into this seventeen-track treasure trove. It is no wonder that this became the first single; “Two Times Blue” wouldn’t sound out of place on a Blondie record.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“School For Scandal,” which contains the stellar line “the Devil’s dick is hard to handle,” is a mixture of musical sorts, including electronica and rock, and it really sets the tone for the rest of the album. The pace slows a little with “If I Had You,” the album’s only other single release. It’s a sweet love song, one of three along with “What Is Love” and “Needless To Say.” The latter two are the only real fillers here, and having used the one production team to produce the entire album, its overall consistency outweighs the fact that it’s a tad over-long at sixty-four minutes.

The most experimental moment is “You’re Too Hot,” a great rocking track void of any lyrics except the frantic chorus “Don’t touch me, you’re too hot,” married with chunky guitars and a saxophone. Another stand out is “Charm Alarm,” which is as abstract as it is catchy and full of innuendo and spunk. “Jen Jen,” penned by Chris Stein, is a mostly instrumental track, which leads into the only Harry/Stein composition to be found here, the semi-industrial “Naked Eye;” however confusing its lyrics may be, it’s a nice moment. 

The album’s best track is surely “Deep End,” which is pop as only Harry can do it.  Great lyrics coupled with a simple but full arrangement, it’s one of her very best efforts. “Love With A Vengeance” is more chilled but just as satisfying with Harry calling on her jazzy chops (think Jazz Passengers) for a breezy, sexy delivery. The title track is a rocker at heart but given its electronic treatment, it loses some of its punch; still, it remains one of the album’s many highlights.

All in all this is undoubtedly Miss Harry’s finest moment as a solo artist. Necessary Evil is experimental by nature but never loses its way due to the cohesiveness of Super Buddha’s production. And Deborah Harry has most certainly looked after herself; her voice is in fine form with her incredible range intact. Her iconic mixture of beauty and sexiness is still clearly present even at age 63 and with a rumored new Blondie album in the not too distant future, there’s no reason for slowing down any time soon.

Rating: B+

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© 2008 Mark Millan and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Eleven Seven Records, and is used for informational purposes only.