Four years after the demise of Blondie, Deborah Harry finally returned with her second solo album. `Rock Bird' is a slick pop piece that largely abandons the facets of Harry's long-established, enigmatic personal style in favour of commercial gloss. Producer, Seth Justman, who played keyboards for the J. Geils Band (`Centrefold', `Freeze Frame
'), opts for frothy (at the time) contemporary style over substance, which ends up leaving Harry sounding like one of the pack instead of the leader she had always been.
Everything here is catchy and infectious, with probably the most interesting track being the single, `French Kissin'. Harry and long-time partner and Blondie guitarist, Chris Stein, contribute three songs (`In Love With Love', `Rockbird' and `Secret Life'), with their rocky and amusing title track being the best (and biggest departure) on the album. Harry penned the others mostly with Justman. And the closing partnership with Nile Rodgers, `Beyond the Limit', sounds like a leftover from her dire first solo album, `Koo Koo
', though with better production.
It is hard to shake the feeling that Justman's slick, bubble-gummy, of-the-moment production robs Harry of the authority she needs to really shine, though to a far lesser extent than Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards did on `Koo Koo'. Generally, the songs tend to run too long, which also detracts from a sense of quality. It also tends to indicate that Harry needs a producer who really understands her, as Mike Chapman did when she was in Blondie. But in a post-Blondie world, at least she was recording again, even if it was as a shadow of her former self. Definitely one for the bargain bin.