Impromptu dance parties have begun to interrupt the domesticity of my household, and my family would like to thank Strut for supplying the soundtrack. The vault-raiding label's latest compilation spotlights Ze Records, a NYC outfit founded by a Frenchman and an Englishman in the late '70s, and one that forged an idiosyncratic path into the brave new world that was the 1980s.
Ze's motley roster was a catch-all for a New York vogue and anti-vogue: disco pop from Don Armando's Second Avenue Rhumba Band ("Deputy of Love," featuring Fonda Rae); Blade Runner funk from Material ("Bustin' Out," featuring Nona Hendryx); zoned-out carousel rock from Suicide ("Dream Baby Dream"). The barrage of VH1 retro specials — not to mention the collective commemorating around the recent death of John Hughes — tends to undersell the '80s as an ironic well of tacky nostalgia.
Ze 30 neutralizes that conventional wisdom with a heavy dose of cutting-edge weirdness, serving up magnificent gonzos like Cristina's shredtastic "Things Fall Apart" and Casino Music's "The Beat Goes On." Killer tracks by Was (Not Was) and Kid Creole & the Coconuts remind us that dance music can also take a political stance, but, honestly, the only stance I'm concerned about is the idiotic one I strike while strutting around the room to this stuff.