Def, as in cool? Umm, maybe. Dumb? Hey, it’s not Jeopardy!, this is dance music. And blond? Only Harry’s hair stylist knows for sure.
This is a comeback record for Blondie’s former lead singer, and Harry, 44, could have done worse. Sure, it’s as slick as a roomful of salesmen. But Blondie was the most stylized of New York’s punk bands in the late ’70s, and Harry’s wispy vocals were the focus of that style. Most important, she can also still count on ex-lover Chris Stein as an able songwriting partner.
In fact, with ex-Blondie producer Mike Chapman in charge of most of these tracks, this album might be a good indicator of where Blondie would be today had the group not split up in 1982. The harder guitar edges have given way to the latest in synthesizer programming, but you can hear quintessential Blondie touches in “Maybe for Sure.” “I Want That Man” is a strong rocker written by the Thompson Twins’ Allanah Currie and Tom Bailey.
The last track, “End of the Run.” closes things on a dark yet affecting note as Harry looks back on the past, hoping the future might be a little brighter.
The last few years have been difficult for Harry and Stein, as he fought off a long illness—he was afflicted with pemphigus, a rare skin disease—with Harry dutifully looking after him. With his health improved, they can concentrate on bringing Harry back on the charts. Def, Dumb & Blonde shows she has made a strong push in that direction. (Sire/Reprise)