Thursday, July 09, 2020

Song of the Day: 'Now I Know You Know' by Debbie Harry

I never shy away from an opportunity to overanalyze Debbie Harry's solo career, so you can imagine how thrilled I was when my friend Greg sent me a new article by Ted Mills for Open Culture, When Debbie Harry Combined Artistic Forces with H.R. Giger. As a overarching theory, I've always felt her solo records failed to catch on because the material was noticeably weaker than Blondie's heyday. But if one was to have worked, the first -- with Nile Rogers and Bernard Edwards hot off revitalizing Diana Ross's career producing and Blondie riding the wave of three straight No. 1 singles -- was the most likely. In the past I've hypothesized that "Backfired" was too urban to have been the first single -- ditto for "The Jam Was Moving" as the second -- and thought maybe "Surrender" would have been a better pick. I've also admitted that despite an overall affection for the album, it could have used a couple more strong songs. (Forty years on and without hearing them, I'm still a little hazy about which one is "Chrome" and which one is "Oasis," a confusion that doesn't exist on any of the classic six Blondie LPs.) 

But now Open Culture theorizes that the partnership with H.R. Giger -- whose work Debbie and Chris Stein fell in love with after seeing "Alien" -- is what likely doomed "Koo Koo," resulting in a commercially unfriendly album cover and two videos whose style is completely ill-suited for the music -- a fatal misstep the same year MTV launched and was in dire need of content. This isn't the first time the artwork has been faulted -- it was banned in the U.K., after all -- but is perhaps the best explanation as to why. 

One commenter described this video as "that one time when Debbie Harry escaped Blondie, visited the set of Alien, and told everyone that she was Kate Bush" -- something I suspect very few people were hoping for from the Marilyn Monroe of punk. 

Might fans have surrendered to this?

Here's a great contemporaneous interview from 1981 that comes and goes from YouTube. Enjoy it while it lasts!

1 comment:

Blobby said...

I've always felt that 'Koo Koo' was way ahead of it's time. I think it still is. The world just hasn't caught up.