KooKoo

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This article is about the Debbie Harry album. For the Finnish ice hockey team commonly known as KooKoo, see Kouvolan Edustuskiekko . For the Persian genre of food commonly known as KooKoo, see Kuku (food) .
KooKoo
Cover art by H. R. Giger
Studio album by Debbie Harry
Released July 27, 1981
Recorded 1981
Genre Rock, Dance, Pop, Funk
Label Chrysalis
Producer Nile Rodgers
Bernard Edwards
Debbie Harry chronology
KooKoo
(1981)
Rockbird
(1986)
Blondie chronology
Autoamerican
(1980)
The Hunter
(1982)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 1.5/5 stars [1]
Rolling Stone 2/5 stars [2]
Robert Christgau B− [3]

KooKoo is the debut solo album by American rock singer and actress Debbie Harry, released in 1981.

Album information[edit]

KooKoo was recorded while Harry and boyfriend Chris Stein were taking a year long break from the band Blondie. The album was produced by Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards of the '70s disco group Chic, who had just had major success working with Diana Ross on her 1980 album Diana. Harry and Stein first met the pair at the Power Station recording studio in New York while Blondie were recording their 1979 album Eat To The Beat, and they remained good friends in the intervening years. KooKoo was one of three albums to be (co)written and produced by Rodgers and Edwards in 1981, the other two being Chic's fifth album Take It Off and Johnny Mathis' I Love My Lady which remains unreleased.

KooKoo showcased the early fusion of funk, rock and dance music that would become the trademark of Rodgers and Edwards, and this style would later be evident on albums such as David Bowie's Let's Dance, Duran Duran's Notorious, The Power Station's self-titled debut album, and Robert Palmer's Riptide. Backing vocals were provided by Mark Mothersbaugh and Gerald Casale of Devo, credited as Spud and Pud Devo.

KooKoo reached #6 in the UK and stayed in the charts for seven weeks, being certified "Silver" by the BPI for shipments in excess of 60,000 copies. The album reached #25 in the US and was certified "Gold" by the RIAA for shipments in excess of 500,000 copies.

Originally only available on vinyl album and cassette, KooKoo was digitally remastered and re-issued on compact disc with two bonus tracks (the 12" versions of "Backfired" and "The Jam Was Moving") by EMI in the UK in 1994, and by Razor & Tie in the US in 1999, this time with just one bonus track. The album was reissued again in the US by Gold Legion.com in 2011 (the 30th anniversary of the album's release). This reissue includes three bonus tracks (both of the aforementioned 12" versions, and also the rare extended mix of "Inner City Spillover") as well as extensive liner notes.

Promotion[edit]

The cover art for the album was created by Swiss artist H.R. Giger, best known for his design work on the 1979 sci-fi/horror film Alien. Based on a photograph of Harry taken by the renowned photographer Brian Aris, Giger created several variations of the cover (another of which is seen on the album's inner sleeve) in what Harry described as a combination of punk, acupuncture and sci-fi. Harry stated that the album title came to her after she saw Giger's completed work, and although she had misgivings about the conceptual ideas behind the artwork (as she did not identify either the album or herself as "punk"), she was suitably impressed to use it anyway.[4]

For the promotion of KooKoo, Chrysalis Records planned to display large posters of the album cover in various stations of the London Underground. However, officials deemed the image of Harry with metal skewers going through her face and neck to be too disturbing. A TV ad campaign went ahead, however.

Promo videos were made for the tracks "Backfired" and "Now I Know You Know", both directed by Giger and filmed at his studio in Switzerland. "Backfired" featured a dark-haired Harry dancing superimposed over a backdrop of Giger's distinctive artwork, with Giger himself appearing in a semi-translucent face mask. "Now I Know You Know" featured Harry in a long black wig and a form-fitting bodysuit painted with Giger's unusual artwork, dancing around in a small set furnished with Giger's "bio-mechanical" design work.

Singles[edit]

Two singles were released from the album: "Backfired", which peaked at #24 in Australia, #32 in the UK and #43 in the US in August 1981, and "The Jam Was Moving" which reached #82 in the US but failed to chart in the UK or Australia.

A third single, "Chrome", was only released in some parts of Europe and also failed to chart. Another track, "Jump Jump", was only released as a single in Peru.

Track listing[edit]

Side A:

  1. "Jump Jump" (Deborah Harry, Chris Stein) - 4:04
  2. "The Jam Was Moving" (Bernard Edwards, Nile Rodgers) - 2:59
  3. "Chrome" (Deborah Harry, Chris Stein) - 4:17
  4. "Surrender" (Bernard Edwards, Nile Rodgers) - 3:37
  5. "Inner City Spillover" (Deborah Harry, Chris Stein) - 5:04

Side B:

  1. "Backfired" (Bernard Edwards, Nile Rodgers) - 4:54
  2. "Now I Know You Know" (Bernard Edwards, Nile Rodgers) - 5:39
  3. "Under Arrest" (Bernard Edwards, Deborah Harry, Nile Rodgers, Chris Stein) - 3:03
  4. "Military Rap" (Deborah Harry, Chris Stein) - 3:51
  5. "Oasis" (Bernard Edwards, Deborah Harry, Nile Rodgers, Chris Stein) - 4:59

Bonus Tracks CD Re-Issue UK 1994

  • "Backfired" 12" Mix - 6:23
  • "The Jam Was Moving" 12" Mix - 5:03

Bonus Track CD Re-Issue US 1999

  • "Backfired" 12" Mix - 6:23

Bonus Tracks CD Re-Issue 2011

  • "Backfired" 12" Mix - 6:23
  • "The Jam Was Moving" 12" Mix - 5:03
  • "Inner City Spillover" 12" Mix - 5:58

Personnel[edit]

Production[edit]

  • Nile Rodgers - producer for Chic Organization Ltd.
  • Bernard Edwards - producer for Chic Organization Ltd.
  • Bill Scheniman - sound engineer
  • Jason Corsaro - second engineer
  • H. R. Giger - cover concept and painting
  • Brian Aris - photography
  • Peter Wagg - art direction
  • Dennis King - mastering at Atlantic Studios
  • Recorded and mixed at The Power Station, NYC

Sources[edit]

  • Cathay Che: Deborah Harry: Platinum Blonde André Deutsch Publications 1999, ISBN 0-233-99957-4.
  • Debbie Harry, Victor Bockris & Chris Stein: Making Tracks: The Rise Of Blondie Horizon Book Promotions 1982, ISBN 0-440-55150-1.

References[edit]