Picks and Pans Review: Rockbird

updated 12/15/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/15/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

Debbie Harry

Harry is 41 and this is her first album in three years (some of that time she was preoccupied with caring for Chris Stein, her lover and guitarist, who has been afflicted with pemphigus, a rare skin disorder, since 1981). How sympathetic people feel toward her will probably determine whether they decide this, her second album outside Blondie, is an amazing mishmash or an adventuresome breakthrough. The chilly, singsong-y style she affected with Blondie is most evident on In Love With Love, which was co-written by Stein. She sounds like a mediocre teenage club singer on the puerile / Want You and a very good teenage club singer, with a first-class arranger, on Chuck Lorre's adolescent tune French Kissin'. (The lyrics are reminiscent of those kids who liked to say dirty words just to prove how grown up they were: "Take your lover by the hand/ Speak in tongues and understand.") Then again, on the jaunty, brassy Buckle Up, Harry shows off some blues-rock talents that would border on the funky if her image, physical as well as musical, weren't so resolutely white. Free To Fall, co-written by Harry and producer Seth Justman, whose previous credits include albums by the J. Geils Band, and Beyond the Limit (Harry-Nile Rodgers) are close to mainstream pop, with more of an accent on production than singing style. Nobody would ever have said Harry had a great voice. She has done some intriguing things with what she has though. (Geffen)

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