Picks and Pans Review: Kookoo

updated 10/12/1981 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/12/1981 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Debbie Harry

The woman who said in a Murjani jeans commercial, "When you know where you're going, you know what to wear," appears on the jacket of her first solo LP with acupuncture needles piercing her neck and head. Apparently Harry was either on her way to a masquerade ball as a shish kebob or offering herself up to critics as a pincushion. The musical fare is no less daring, though it's more girlish than garish. Harry and boyfriend Chris Stein have chosen as collaborators/producers Nile Rogers and Bernard Edwards of the funky R&B band Chic. It is heartening to see a major artist triumph at something so risky. The chemistry is best on the zesty, melodic cut Under Arrest. Military Rap also shows Debbie at word and ploy, rapsinging such parody march chants as these: "Go now, pay later/It's a layaway plan/Free vacation in Iran/Stop and see the Middle East/Miles and miles of lovely beach/Get that Coppertone tan/On radioactive sand." There are some flaws; on Surrender, Debbie's bleached-out soprano is not fluid enough to keep up with Rogers' undulating bass line. But Harry hasn't lost the musical intuition or playfulness that made her so likable when she and Blondie hit the punk clubs in 1975. She's managed to experiment here without letting the project lapse into private jokes.

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