New Wave goddess Cristina Monet was the princess of ZE Records.


January 2006
New articles from the Boston Globe (1980) and Melody Maker (1984).

December 2004
Check out Elisabeth Vincentelli's excellent article Queen Cristina, from the November 11–17, 2004 issue of Time Out New York (Issue 476).

November 2004
The recently re-formed ZE Records has remastered and reissued all of Cristina's material.
The CDs sound phenomenal and include previously unreleased gems such as a cover of Prince's "When U Were Mine."
Order online at


          Sleep It Off

Guardian Article

1980 Press Release

Rolling Stone review of Sleep It Off

1984 Press Release



Cristina, 1980, ZE Records

Jungle Love (Darnell) 5:29
Don't Be Greedy (Darnell) 6:15
Mama Mia (Darnell-R.Rogers) 4:06
La Poupée Qui Fait Non (Polnareff-Gerald) 7:38
(Temporarily) Yours (Darnell) 5:55
Blame It On Disco (Darnell) 6:50

Sleep It Off, 1984, ZE Records

Don't Mutilate My Mink
Ticket to the Tropics
She Can't Say That Anymore
Quicksand Lovers
Rage and Fascination
Ballad of Immoral Earnings
What's a Girl to Do
The Lie of Love
Blue Money
He Dines Out on Death


"Disco Clone"/"Disco O," ZE Records UK, 1978
"La Poupée Qui Fait Non," 1980, Island / ZE 7": 600 235
     A - "La Poupée Qui Fait Non" (M. Polnareff-F.Gerald) 7.38
     B - "Blame It On Disco" (Darnell) 6.50
"Is That All There Is?"/"Jungle Love," 1980, ZE Records (45 and "Maxi" single)
"Drive My Car"/"La Poupée Qui Fait Non," 1980
"Baby You Can Drive My Car"/"Don't Be Greedy," 1980
"Things Fall Apart" (b/w "It's a Holiday" by Material — split 12"), 1981
"Ticket to the Tropics"/"What's a Girl to Do?," 1984
"What's a Girl to Do?"/"Things Fall Apart," 1984


"Drive My Car," on Seize the Beat, 1981, various artists, ZE Records.
"Things Fall Apart" [original version], on A Christmas Record, 1981, various artists, ZE Records.
"Things Fall Apart" [new & improved], on A Christmas Record, 1982, various artists, ZE Records.
"Disco Clone," on Zetrospective: Dancing In The Face Of Adversity, 1989, various artists, ZE Records.
"Lie Of Love," "He Dines Out On Death," and "Things Fall Apart" on Zetrospective: Hope Springs Eternal, 1989, various artists, ZE Records.
"Is That All There Is?" on The Best of Rodney on the ROQ, Posh Boy Records, 1989 (replaced by Rik L. Rik on all pressings but the first).

Guardian Article

Copyright 1984 Guardian Newspapers Limited, The Guardian (London)

September 22, 1984

Week-end People: How Cristina lives down Ze label of marrying the boss


Down to Blake's Hotel to catch up with the new fast music. Singer Cristina was lying on a bed, smoking. Some of it was coming from her cigarette. 'I want you sexually, you want me sexually,' she was saying. 'That's nice, but if you have a secret interest in my brother there's a story there.'

I didn't know she had a brother. She certainly has a husband, the Mothercare heir Michael Zilkha, who obligingly puts out her records on his Ze label in New York. She also has an eight-month-old baby girl who isn't short of the latest clobber. So she must have been talking about her lyrics. Difficult to tell: her education at Harvard and London's Central School of Drama seems to have produced an unintelligible babble.

'It's mostly New Wave working class,' she said. 'Otherwise it would be camp affluence nostalgic--Thirties film scores--undercut by ironic dissonance.'

Sounds a bit discordant, I ventured. An all-brown meal would be bloody horrible without green vegetables, she riposted. Quite, but wasn't this lyrics thing like yesterday's cold potatoes? Maybe that's why she had such a small following, she mused. Is one barking up the wrong art form?

Lets clear this up. Critina Monet is a New Yorker whose first fling was a send-up called Disco Clone. Next came an adulterated version of Is That All There Is? That was withdrawn after composers Lieber and Stoller sent round their legal frighteners. Then there was her Christmas album Things Fall Apart.

This time she thinks she's cracked it. Her new album, Sleep It Off, features a track entitled Don't Mutilate My Mink, whose ironic dissonance may escape Greenpeace: 'Don't tell me that I'm frigid/Don't try to make me think/I'll do just fine without you/Don't mutilate my mink.'

She appeared anxious to allay speculation about marrying the boss. 'He was not famous at the time. He was just a kid like me. We were both apprentice theatre critics on the Village Voice. He said Harold Robbins was an eighth-grade Balzac in an eighth-grade age. He probably said that to all the girls.

Marriage followed the discovery that they knew their Balzacs from their Bartoks. 'When people go into a nepotism thing about the rich boyfriend gives the girl a record there's an element of truth, because I never paid my dues. But it's not that you see a girl with a great figure and you spend your money on a record.'

1980 Press Release

Cristina is the kind of girl who does what she likes. For one thing, she's rich. She lives in France with her father (he's a psychiatrist there) or in London or New York. She's studied at Harvard, where she won the History and Literature Prize in her sophomore year. She's acted in plays and reviewed them for the Village Voice. So you can see she's smart. She likes reading and pear-shaped diamonds, MDA and valium, Balzac and I Love Lucy. Since she is also very beautiful, she gets what she wants.

Last year, Cristina wanted to make records. She began with a single, "Disco Clone" and Melody Maker picked this 'artfully dumb' debut as its Record of the Week. Now she's finished an album.

It's written and produced by August Darnell -who, as one half of Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band, changed the face of dance music in 1976. Darnell, the mind behind such disco classics as Machine's 'There But For The Grace Of God Go I' and 'Deputy of Love' by Don Armondo's Second Avenue Rhumba Band, is presently completing his own album 'Kid Creole And The Coconuts' (also on ZE).

Well, the bratty siren and moody mulatto got on famously, and the music which has resulted - a marriage of Darnell's disquieting barrio swing and Cristina's arrogant wit - is simply extraordinary. Because you've never heard an album more madly danceable and intelligent at the same time.

Anyway, Cristina's album is out now and it's on ZE and called 'Cristina' (which makes things easy), and she's out too, appearing with Darnell and menage in the Kid And The Coconuts Featuring Cristina Revue.

She hopes you'll like it.

Rolling Stone review of Sleep It Off




If you loved the Pulitzer divorce trial, you'll love this record. Cristina's Sleep It Off is a graduate course--corse may be more like it--in upscale decadence, a grimly hilarious gavotte through the titled apocalypso, powered by producer Don Was' incisive musical settings and Cristina's ravaged, yowling vocals. The effect is somewhere between Marianne Faithfull and the Flying Lizards, and the music is more enjoyable than either.

As on the most recent Was (Not Was) LP, Don Was conjures a plethora of musical styles to complement Cristina (whose vocal abilities, admittedly, will not have Linda Thompson pacing the floor). The Sex Pistols-style roar of "Dont Mutilate My Mink," for instance, adds just the crunch necessary to fill out her, ah, unsentimental account: "My night dress is expensive/I don't want to see it soiled." No less naive is "Ticket to the Tropics," whose chipper hooks can't obliterate lines like, "You said, 'Wouldn't it be very hot if we did this in the sun?'/You said, "My cash flow's very low, but you know it can be done.'" Even the covers are sizzlers, from a winkingly lyrical version of Van Morrison's "Blue Money" to an outright brilliant rendition of "Ballad of Immoral Earnings" from Threepenny Opera. (Cristina could make a pretty good living just singing Brecht-Weill compositions.)

Was' superb production doesn't candy coat Cristina's caustic vocals, but it does place them in sympathetic and occasionally ironic settings. Perhaps the pair's finest work is on "He Dines Out on Death," wherein a busker's acoustic guitar provides an ironic complement to Cristina's savage account of a wealthy playboy whose wife's suicide evokes pity in his other escorts: "He lends such distinction to her self-extinction/Let's throw him a party, he must be in hell...'" Hoo, boy.

Sleep It Off is not for the MTV crowd, but so what? "My life is in a turmoil/My thighs are black and blue/My sheets are stained, so is my brain/What's a girl to do?" Buy this record, I'd advise. Class is in session - CHRISTOPHER CONNELLY

1984 Press Release


"The one thing that pop music has lost lately is its sense of irony," says Cristina. "People either write dumb-funny novelty songs or dead-earnest serious songs There's nothing around that combines elements of both. There's none of the real wit and self-humour of anyone from a Berthold Brecht to a Cole Porter or an early Dylan."

Cristina's music brings back quick-witted quips and fully drawn ironies without any facile reliance on nostalgic cabaret camp. Her pop ballads and hard-driving rock 'n' roll on her Mercury/ZE/PolyGram debut, Sleep It Off, are as thoroughly modern as her lyrical reference points. In both her words and musical delivery, Cristina always maintains a balance of pain and punch lines. The humour is for strength, the hard edge for realism. At first, it may be hard for some to take. But Cristina maintains: "There's nothing wrong with the attitude that life is insurmountably bleak, but that with humour and compassion you can surmount the insurmountable. They don't say of Chekov, 'God, he's a lousy playwright because his vision is so depressing - why doesn't he cheer up a bit.' All too often there's this ad man's mentality in pop music. It's okay to moan about your girlfriend splitting because that's a passing thing. But if you present an on-going vision of life as pretty ludicrous and grim, that's not okay. I think you can do it and you can survive it so long as you keep your sense of humour, especially self-humour."

Since she started recording, Cristina has always balanced redemptive humour with black cynicism. Her debut single, "Disco Clone," was both funny and an all-too-accurate skewering of the disco scene. Recorded in the summer of 1978, "Disco Clone" was the first project of the then-burgeoning new wave/disco fusion and also the first output from the legendary ZE Records. It was hailed by Melody Maker as "artfully dumb disco" and made their "single of the week." The Observer Color Supplement labeled it "outrageously stylish." Cristina followed that single with a radical re-working of Leiber & Stoller's existential classic, "Is That All There Is?" So unique was Cristina's take on the song that lawyers for Lieber & Stoller imposed an injunction on the record.

Richard Williams writing in Melody Maker took it a lot better, calling it "the most remarkable single of the month." Boston's Real Paper hailed it as "the funniest and scariest record of the year." For months it received saturation airplay in Boston and L.A. and remains to this day Britain's most requested record on Radio One. Unlike the high Marilyn Monroe coo she adapted for "Disco Clone," and her later version of Lennon & McCartney's "Drive My Car," on "Is That All There Is?" Cristina employed a deep and theatrical voice, which has become her M.O. ever since.

Also in her pre-PolyGram days Cristina recorded one other important single, "Things Fall Apart," a pithy, haunting, horrific piece of work with a memorably dissonant chorus. "Things Fall Apart" was Cristina's first work with Don Was and was included on the ZE Christmas record.

Cristina recorded one full LP for ZE in 1980, produced by August Darnell, but today she views it as overly cheeky, lacking a real sense of self beneath the pose. To Cristina, Sleep It Off is her true debut LP, following in the absurdist/realist tradition of her celebrated underground singles, "Things Fall Apart," and "Is That All There Is?" Songs like "The Lie Of Love" may seem flip on the surface, but Cristina's wistful delivery of the lyric adds real compassion. "A writer once asked me about 'The Lie Of Love,'" Cristina elucidates. "He said, 'what keeps these two people together - what's the point?' To my mind the relationship is credible and relatable to all people. Not that all relationships are like this all the time, but it is representative of a certain element of all of them. It's a depressing song, but it's real. It's about two people leaning on each other through their pain for lack of a logical alternative."

One of the most surprising songs on the LP is Cristina's cover of Van Morrison's "Blue Money." When I cover a song I want to totally re-invent it," the singer explains. "Van Morrison does it as a fun song. I wanted to do it as a survive-any-way-you-can-and-still-hope-for-something-better song. It was also fun covering it because it's a great rock 'n' roll tune."

Besides her cover of the Van Morrison tune, the country and western hit "She Can't Say That Anymore" and Brech-Weill's "Ballad Of Immoral Earnings," the lyrics on the LP are all Cristina, with music by the LP's producer Don Was (of Was (Not Was) fame), Doug Frieder (from The Knack), and Barry Reynolds and Ben Brierley (both of Marianne Faithfull's band). Cristina, Don Was, and the rest of the musicians worked on the LP in a flea-bitten studio in Detroit. The music they came up with ranges from Dylanesque ballads like "He Dines Out On Death" to the punky rock 'n' roll of "Don't Mutilate My Mink." Cristina's voice is alternately haunting, angry and melancholic. Her stance is undeniably worldly but traces of vulnerability peak through.

Though the LP includes a wide variety of musical material and lyrical points of view, Cristina feel there is a main theme which ties it all together. "The whole album is about coping with sex and money and power plays in the 1980's," she says. "In the sixties people survived on political idealism. In the seventies there was this obsession with 'lifestyle' - women's lib or a new religion, sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll, or a macrobiotic diet. Something was always THE ANSWER. In the eighties people are into power and money and narcissism because they don't know what else to believe in. I don't think the album has a cynical take on this. I guess I just believe that whatever's going on, trying to exist is a pretty trying business. Life knocks you down, all you can do is get back up, brush yourself off, cry a little, laugh a little and keep going."

As well-though-out as Cristina's sensibility is, there's an immediacy to her music that's pure, unselfconscious pop. She may have lots of smarts, but there's nothing elite about her sound. She's already conquered the cultish, underground crowd with her music. Now it's the mainstream's turn to get shaken up.


Last (minor) update: 2 Apr 2003 by scythrop
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