Various Artists | Ze 30: Ze Records Story 1979-2009

Strut (2009)
By ZETH LUNDY  |  August 19, 2009
3.5 3.5 Stars


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.

Related: Review: Animal Collective, Merriweather Post Pavilion, Photos: Deadmau5 at the House of Blues, Screw the Ides of March — beware Bodega Girls, More more >
  Topics: CD Reviews , John Hughes, dance music, Strut,  More more >
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