Tuesday, April 15, 2008


I was on Deborah Harry's Wikipedia page today for some work-related reason that I've already forgotten and got a bit sidetracked looking at her discography. Where I thought she released a bunch of solo albums, she's only put out seven over the last 27 years. The one that came out last year was her first since 1993's Debravation, an album I listened to all the way through back in my college radio days. It was, like Billy Idol's Cyberbunk, at least partly an attempt to fuse William Gibson's fiction with rock music. It didn't work, though Sonic Youth had better luck with at least one Gibson-inspired song years later.

I've always been curious about Harry's first solo album, Koo-Koo from 1981, which I know mainly because of the famous controversial cover by H.R. Giger:

Giger is the Swiss artist whose disturbing and/or erotic depictions of "biomechanics" found their most famous expression in his designs for Alien. What I didn't know was that Giger directed a pair of videos for the album filmed at his studio. The pairing is much more intriguing than it sounds. Here's Harry performing "Now I Know You Know":

And here she is performing "Backfired":

What's weirdest about this to my eyes, apart from the Gigerian body stocking, is how poorly it all fits together. Blondie was expert at taking trends in fashion and music and making them their own. Alone Harry doesn't do nearly as well. Both songs were written and produced by Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards of Chic, the go-to guys for late-disco pop sounds and Giger was both edgy and trendy at the time. It's all the right elements at exactly the right moment and it should have worked briliantly. And yet... Well, the evidence is above.

I'm less curious about Koo-Koo now.

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