Debbie Harry Rockbird
Debbie's mid-eighties album.
Rockbird was released by David Geffen in America, and on Blondie's Chrysalis Records in England, it contains the top ten UK hit "French Kissing in the USA", which also charted at No. #57 on Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1987.
|by Anonymous||reply 76||Last Sunday at 1:34 PM|
Free to Fall is my favorite song from this album.
|by Anonymous||reply 1||06/04/2021|
A song that, astonishingly, was written by Chuck Lorre, who went on to write/create several TV shows (Roseanne, Grace Under Fire and Cybill among them) and is best known for creating Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men.
|by Anonymous||reply 2||06/04/2021|
Andy Warhol designed the background art for the Rockbird cover. Stephen Sprouse did the art direction, which including the outfits Harry wore.
|by Anonymous||reply 4||06/04/2021|
French Kissin was the stupidest song. Dreadful.
|by Anonymous||reply 5||06/04/2021|
R4 Sprouse designed outfits exclusively for Harry during 1985/86, he even turned down Madonna because Debbie had nurtured him early on in his career. The writing art on the cover of the Rockbird came in four different dayglo colors which were the Sprouse trademark colors.
|by Anonymous||reply 6||06/04/2021|
Katey Sagal is a background singer in the video for French Kissin', and I think she also sang some of the backing vocals along with Jocelyn Brown.
|by Anonymous||reply 7||06/04/2021|
I love the single, and do like the album. Debbie was 42 at the time and was still beautiful but she had gained some weight so wore caftany things and linebacker jumpsuits.
|by Anonymous||reply 8||06/04/2021|
Rockbird was released after a series of personal and professional setbacks for Harry, which included Chris Stein becoming seriously ill, her band breaking up, several failed projects, and the IRS possessing her home.
She had not resolved some of those very bad business dealings until the early 2000s, but things were clear enough for her to start recording again as a solo artist by mid-1985.
She started recording Rockbird on the same day as the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, which she saw as a bad omen that her career would not be as successful as before.
|by Anonymous||reply 9||06/04/2021|
Debbie was not the first person to record this song. Carol Chapman had recorded it before Debbie.
|by Anonymous||reply 10||06/04/2021|
Carol's version is good but it sounds like basic elevator music, the Debbie version has beautiful production.
In her book 'Face It' Debbie says Geffen gave her the song because they wanted a commercial pop song with some radio appeal. They did not want another experimental-sounding record. She loved the song but did not know it had been submitted in a demo tape by Carol Chapman, and then passed along to her.
|by Anonymous||reply 11||06/04/2021|
It is no secret that Debbie was Andy Warhol's favorite artist. One of the last entries in his diary before he passed away was about Debbie and French Kissing:
"I finally saw Debbie Harry's video that was made in L.A, she's at the Beverly Hills pool and she didn't wear the camouflage dress that we made for her, the Stephen Sprouse thing. I guess the director didn't want her to wear it, and it would've been so good. My ambition if I were to really go and have a facelift and everything would be to come out like Debbie."
|by Anonymous||reply 12||06/04/2021|
The French Kissing and Carol Chapman situation is like a reverse of Debbie's recording of Mind Over Matter, in which she put down the vocals in London with Pete Waterman in 1986, when she recorded the extra verse for In Love With Love. Mind Over Matter was held and back and then re-recorded by E.G Daily.
A badly degraded tape of Debbie's version sat in a shoebox for nearly two decades, but it was later restored, and even remixed.
|by Anonymous||reply 14||06/04/2021|
Didn't knew she was already in her mid-late thirties when Blondie were a thing. Thought she was in her twenties.
|by Anonymous||reply 15||06/04/2021|
Some of the blame for the reason Rockbird never really took off sits on Debbie Harry's shoulders. She got some excellent advice from Geffen on how to reignite her career, some of which she took, some of which she didn't.
She would go on interviews, especially in the UK for promotions where she had some frosty relations with the media and be a miserable bitch. Even though it was Sprouse designing her clothes her image was boring. She lost most of the weight she had gained in 1985, but gained some of it back while things were delayed with the record.
Geffen set her up with Jellybean to record the full album, instead, she went with Seth Justman.
|by Anonymous||reply 16||06/04/2021|
R15 Yup, she was 33 when Blondie really broke through on the charts.
|by Anonymous||reply 17||06/04/2021|
Debs still performs this song on occasion.
|by Anonymous||reply 18||06/04/2021|
We already covered anything that needed to be said in the latest Blondie thread.
Really annoying with the Aspie Redundant Copycat OP repeating the same threads constantly.
|by Anonymous||reply 19||06/04/2021|
I’m a lifelong Blondie/Debbie obsessive and after Rockbird resigned myself to enjoying Debbie’s 80’s/90’s solo career mostly just privately as a fan without the mainstream hoopla and success that surrounded Blondie (when I was very young gayling, and a big fan).
I’ve always had a soft spot for Rockbird and listen to it a lot. I think it’s probably my favorite, oddly, because much of it is awkward, and her vocal performance on it isn’t as consistent as DEF DUMB AND BLOND.
I like the mix of quirky, kind of jazzy numbers with a skronk-y saxophone and bratty “New-Yawk” back-up singers, mixed in with the smooth commercial sounding stuff that almost sounds mindless.
It’s an odd album that keeps me coming back for some reason.
|by Anonymous||reply 20||06/04/2021|
I eat dog shit I pick up off the street.
|by Anonymous||reply 21||06/04/2021|
DEF DUMB AND BLOND is technically her best solo record. Consistent, upbeat, great vocals and sharp production. But I agree with the above poster there’s something charming about the imperfect ROCKBIRD.
|by Anonymous||reply 22||06/04/2021|
Debbie addresses the controversy about who wrote “French Kissing in the USA” in FACE IT. I can’t remember exactly what she said, but claimed the song was presented to her by the record company, amongst a bunch of others, and she flipped out when she heard it and wanted to use it right away. She claims it was presented to her as available, and she was just acting accordingly, so she’s innocent.
Seems like typical shifty music business dealings.
|by Anonymous||reply 23||06/04/2021|
This happens with hit songs all the time. Similar situation with Madonna and “Justify My Love” (if you want to call that a song). Lenny Kravitz brought it to her and she loved it, as-is. The song and banned video became a huge sensation and the woman who created it made a stink in the press, claiming the whole thing happened behind her back. Madonna claimed she didn’t know and was, “completely innocent in that situation” in an MTV interview with Kurt Loader. Although I doubt that’s the whole truth.
I imagine in these situations it’s only when the song becomes a big hit that the unknown creator realizes they can go public and claim it was sort of stolen from them, to at least get some recognition on record in the media.
|by Anonymous||reply 24||06/04/2021|
The only solo record I generally listen to is Koo Koo. Interesting record with Nile Rodgers. Wasn’t commercial though.
|by Anonymous||reply 25||06/04/2021|
Agree! KOO KOO is loads of fun. Some of it is dated, but it wins on sheer groove. Plus that crazy ass cover puts it over the top.
KOO KOO works because those involved didn’t appear to care too much what anyone thought, they just did their own thing. Her later solo albums (while still great to good) definitely seemed to have a good amount of attention and fussiness over how consumers and fans would react to them.
|by Anonymous||reply 26||06/05/2021|
Debbie Harry stared as a witch 'Sybil' on an episode of Tales From the Darkside in 1987.
|by Anonymous||reply 27||06/06/2021|
[quote] Didn't knew she was already in her mid-late thirties when Blondie were a thing.
Debbie in her early 20s
|by Anonymous||reply 28||06/06/2021|
Personally I prefer Def, Dumb & Blonde. It recalls Harry's best years of Blondie but in a late '80s sound. I Want That Man, Sweet and Low and Brite Side are terrific. Love the closer, End of the Run.
But I think Koo Koo, Rockbird and Debravation are all worthwhile.
Her solo career is inconsistent but not without its charms.
|by Anonymous||reply 29||06/06/2021|
Here’s the original Debbie Harry version of mind over matter. R14’s remixed one sucks. I think Debbie could’ve made it a bit in America, though I like the EG Daly version. I’m surprised a sports team never used it.
|by Anonymous||reply 30||06/06/2021|
R30 It sounds super-80’s. Although I think there’s too much happening in the production. It has a good groove and hook and doesn’t need all those bells and whistles. I just googled it and read all the stuff about the film and her label and E. g. Daily. Who knew? This could have been a great song on ROCKBIRD.
|by Anonymous||reply 31||06/07/2021|
R29 Agree. DEF DUMB AND BLOND is her overall best solo record. It just works all the way through. I imagine it was her best seller?
|by Anonymous||reply 32||06/07/2021|
Koo Koo was her best-selling solo record by far. US Gold/UK Platinum.
|by Anonymous||reply 33||06/07/2021|
R33 Interesting. I wonder if it’s because it was released while Blondie were still together and popular?
|by Anonymous||reply 34||06/07/2021|
Yes, she was still very hot in 1981, her debut solo record was highly anticipated. Koo Koo sold above 1 million copies globally. Rockbird about 650,000 copies, and Def Dumb and Blonde around 400,000 450,000 units. These are estimates based on the number of Deborah's global platinum, gold, and silver sales.
|by Anonymous||reply 35||06/07/2021|
This is the sort of interview Debbie had to deal with at the time. Even though she is nice, there is a pensive, almost "why am I bothering?" feel about it.
|by Anonymous||reply 36||06/07/2021|
And the part in the video where Debbie says "I live a very conservative life", I almost got a contact high from watching her speak.
|by Anonymous||reply 37||06/07/2021|
I wonder if a different cover would have changed the commercial results of Koo Koo? Something more earthy and a bit more ambivalent would have suited the sound better, but they went all out with the somewhat horrific dystopian theme; at the link is the cover photo before the skewers were airbrushed in.
|by Anonymous||reply 38||06/09/2021|
I don't think the cover is the issue. It's a groove record.
|by Anonymous||reply 39||06/09/2021|
Brite Side is a pretty song but I've always thought the vocal arrangement is lacking. I actually think it would have suited Kirsty MacColl more, perhaps with MacColl's trademark "Wall of Kirstys" choral arrangement.
|by Anonymous||reply 40||06/09/2021|
Then there's the whole "Debravation" kerfuffle where she had to do the whole album over.
And how about her wigs?
|by Anonymous||reply 41||06/09/2021|
[Quote] Then there's the whole "Debravation" kerfuffle where she had to do the whole album over.
What's the story there? Was it due to a falling out with a producer?
|by Anonymous||reply 42||06/09/2021|
R42 In 1994, Harry released independently a different version of the album, entitled Debravation (8½) Producer's (Director's) Cut. According to her official website, this was the original version of the album, which was presented to Sire and rejected. When they opted for a different track listing and different mixes, Harry had a limited number of copies of Debravation (8½) Producer's (Director's) Cut pressed and sold them at her concerts and through her website. It contained two identical tracks to the official release, but also included alternate versions, as well as tracks that were used as B-sides, and some previously unreleased material.
The musicians for the Producer's Cut were Chris Stein (guitar and programming), Pete Min (guitar), Leigh Foxx (bass) and Geoff Dugmore (drums). On the live version of "Black Dog", the musicians were Steve Barnacle (bass); Carrie Boothe (keyboards); Geoff Dugmore (drums); Karl Hyde (guitar); and Melissa Poole-Stein (backing vocals). This version was engineered and mixed by Adam Yellin and produced by Chris Stein.
|by Anonymous||reply 43||06/09/2021|
Oh, yes. I had heard that. Thanks.
I think Debbie would have done better to avoid tinny, programmed production of the 1980s. Something in the vein of Rickie Lee Jones' "Flying Cowboys" album would have suited Harry.
|by Anonymous||reply 44||06/09/2021|
I bought Rockbird; French Kissin' was the only song I listened to more than once.
|by Anonymous||reply 45||06/09/2021|
I recently re watched on Peacock or Tubi the old Wiseguy series. It went reasonably well until I got to the record industry act featuring Debbie. They hide that entire group of shows over music rights, mainly Debbie.
I had to track those several episodes down uncut on some pirate site.
|by Anonymous||reply 46||06/09/2021|
I can see why the 8½ version of Debravation was rejected. It suffered from some of the same excess as Debbie's last solo record 'Necessary Evil' (demo tracks and bizarre instrumentals).
The official release of Debravation only sold about 60,000 copies in the UK, a big drop from her last record, and lead to her being released from her UK contract.
Debravation that was officially released is a smokey, strange record. Tinged with jazz, it has some great tracks like the funky single I Can See Clearly, the ballad Strike Me Pink, and the dance track Lip Service (co-written and produced by Jellybean protege Toni C) - where Deborah unexpectedly bursts into a Edgar Allen Poe poem in the middle of the song.
THE DATE which is only in the 8½ version, is a rap song that's reminiscent of Koo Koo.
|by Anonymous||reply 47||06/10/2021|
She had to redo Debravation because it was a slapdash, lazy mess.
The label had her add I Can See Clearly and Strike Me Pink, the only songs with memorable hooks.
The original track listing was 8 1/2 Rhumba, Rain, Dog Star Girl, Stability, Standing In My Way, Dancing Down The Moon, Black Dog, Mood Ring, The Fugitive, The Date, On A Breath.
Just mediocre, unmemorable songs. When did she clean up from heroin, exactly? Because so much of Debravation just sounds like she didn't care, especially the "first submitted" version.
|by Anonymous||reply 48||06/10/2021|
I read a Debbie biography from the early/mid 00s. It claimed that she kicked heroin in the 1970s. But a few years ago I read a quote from Mike Chapman how Debbie would go on a heroin binge while she cocooned herself in that Geiger throne. It makes me wonder how much drugs have figured in her life. Is she essentially the white Chaka Khan?
|by Anonymous||reply 49||06/10/2021|
R48 She got clean before Rockbird. Her record label was going under in 1993.
|by Anonymous||reply 50||06/10/2021|
[Quote] while she cocooned herself in that Geiger throne.
Which means 1981/1982.
|by Anonymous||reply 51||06/10/2021|
[Quote] She got clean before Rockbird.
What does actually mean, though? No relapses? Elaine Stritch... Bobby Brown... addicts lie about their sobriety all the time.
At one stage in the early/mid 1990s - I guess post losing her record deal - Debbie was singing over her old tracks in club PAs.
|by Anonymous||reply 52||06/10/2021|
*What does that actually mean
|by Anonymous||reply 53||06/10/2021|
Chris Stein: "in the Eighties and Nineties, I was definitely doing too much cocaine and that was a bad time. I got too crazy. And I could see I was doing so much coke I was becoming paranoid and I was getting delusional."
They were both drugged-out well into the '90s, and it fucked up Debbie's solo career. I wish they'd talk about it more directly in terms of how it limited her momentum and opportunities. It's pretty obvious.
|by Anonymous||reply 54||06/10/2021|
I question the account of the "Mind Over Matter" swap.
I think the real issue was that the movie studio wasn't willing to put chubby 42-year-old Debbie out in a music video to promote the film—absolutely compulsory at that point—when 25-year-old EG Daily was available.
|by Anonymous||reply 55||06/10/2021|
Nonsense. EG Daily never had momentum in her career. She was a sixth lead type. Shit, they didn't even release Daily's version as a single in the UK - Stock Aitken Waterman's main market - until about two years after the Summer School movie came out.
|by Anonymous||reply 56||06/10/2021|
But look at the video at R55, R56.
Can you see chubby Debbie heating up a classroom? She would have looked like one of the teachers.
They did release this in the US, and it played on MTV to promote the film.
|by Anonymous||reply 57||06/10/2021|
SAW were not giving away a hit to EG Daily over Debbie Harry. Do you think EG Daily turned down "I Want That Man" and so it went to Debbie?
|by Anonymous||reply 58||06/10/2021|
[quote]Do you think EG Daily turned down "I Want That Man" and so it went to Debbie?
That song was written by the Thompson Twins, and Debbie should have turned it down, because it was a piece of shit, too.
SAW wrote a song for a movie studio to include on their film's soundtrack. They got paid; they didn't care.
|by Anonymous||reply 59||06/10/2021|
[Quote] SAW wrote a song for a movie studio to include on their film's soundtrack. They got paid; they didn't care.
That's very naive of you. Every producer weighs whether or not to give a song to artist X or artist Y. Their producer fee is just one part of the equation. They make more money in the long run from a hit. And a name artist has more chance of giving them a hit than an unknown hopeful.
|by Anonymous||reply 60||06/10/2021|
[Quote] That song was written by the Thompson Twins, and Debbie should have turned it down, because it was a piece of shit, too.
Oh, yeah. And Def, Dumb and Blonde would have sold even less if she had.
|by Anonymous||reply 61||06/10/2021|
R38 The cover the band originally wanted for The Hunter (before the airbrushed animal faces) was a more simple concept: A woman wearing stiletto heels and a mini-skirt, shown only from the waist down extending a lead with a panther attached by a studded collar. They had the art completed but it was voted down in favor of a group picture.
|by Anonymous||reply 62||06/10/2021|
I saw Blondie perform on The Hunter tour. I was a kid. They were still great. They did the hits. I bought a T-shirt and a tour book. Blondie was a fun NYC band.
|by Anonymous||reply 63||06/10/2021|
It's good you had fun, R63.
Debbie was fat, Chris was about to drop dead onstage, two members of the band were replaced by session players, and the stadiums were so empty HBO had to black out the upper level of the arena where they shot their concert special.
|by Anonymous||reply 64||06/10/2021|
All you need to enjoy Blondie is Clem, Chris and Debbie.
|by Anonymous||reply 65||06/10/2021|
One big factor in the strange, long outcome of her solo career was her previous success in Blondie.
She was very famous for many years in Blondie, at times fantastically so. There was also a natural arc to the band’s long climb to fame, and it was all new to the band members, and Debbie’s persona was fresh to the public.
The second go-round years later, at an older age and in a different world, things are going to be different. It’s less challenging. Little of it is a new surprise anymore. You’ll feel a little entitled. You might begin to artistically indulge because why not. You can get a little lazy.
|by Anonymous||reply 66||06/10/2021|
Still sounds pretty good.
|by Anonymous||reply 67||06/10/2021|
[Quote] All you need to enjoy Blondie is Clem, Chris and Debbie.
Disagree. Jimmy Destri was hugely important to Blondie.
|by Anonymous||reply 68||06/10/2021|
I like a lot of Harry's solo stuff. It was inconsistent but some gems. Love her cover of Liar Liar for the Married to the Mob soundtrack. The single mix of I Can See Clearly is better than the original. I Want That Man is camp but a fun pop song. It's not shit. It was successful in the UK. Her collaboration with Iggy Pop, Well Did You Evah, was one of the standouts on Red Hot and Blue.
I've seen Harry live twice. Once in the mid-'90s with the Jazz Passengers. She was in great spirits, engaged and having a fun time. I saw her about 10 years later on the Cyndi Lauper True Colors festival. Harry was low energy, bored, and sang none of her hits, except I think she sang French Kissin'. The only other recognizable song was Rush Rush. The crowd was bored and clapped with little enthusiasm.
Harry didn't seem to put the same amount of energy or ambition into her solo career.
|by Anonymous||reply 69||06/10/2021|
Blondie seems to have a busy few months ahead. Apart from recording new music with John Congleton,
In July - ‘Blondie: Vivir En La Habana’ a six-track live EP of their 2019 performance in Havana, Cuba. With a film to be released later this year.
Fall 2021 - 'Against the Odds'. A graphic novel chronicling the rise of Blondie. Overseen by Chris and Debbie, it will be released in a variety of formats that include soft, hardcover, and deluxe editions, the latter of which will contain exclusive Blondie music.
August - 'Blondie 1974-1982: Against the Odds'. The first Blondie archival box set including a complete discography, extensive liner notes and essays, a historical photographic history, hardcover books, plus rare unreleased bonus material.
A 10-date UK tour in November, also titled 'Against the Odds'.
|by Anonymous||reply 70||Last Sunday at 9:56 AM|
Nobody needs or wants this new crapola from them.
|by Anonymous||reply 71||Last Sunday at 10:11 AM|
I won't be buying the new box sets for $500 when the remastered in 2001 CD tracks with liner notes and extra bonus material is perfectly fine. But it will be interesting to see what they did manage to find in the archives. Recently, some early demos from their first records found their way online. Apparently, there is indeed more stuff out there.
|by Anonymous||reply 72||Last Sunday at 10:29 AM|
Maybe the lost master recording of Curse of Blondie will turn up. That would be very cool.
|by Anonymous||reply 73||Last Sunday at 12:04 PM|
My fav song of the album was "Secret Life" for obvious reasons.
It should've been the lead single =
|by Anonymous||reply 74||Last Sunday at 12:52 PM|
There’s quite a few weird rare early songs on YouTube if you search “Blondie unreleased tracks.” Live and murky but interesting to hear.
|by Anonymous||reply 75||Last Sunday at 1:33 PM|
Love this. Just posted on Debbie’s Twitter
|by Anonymous||reply 76||Last Sunday at 1:34 PM|