Thursday, August 25, 2005

A Visit To Ze Tropics

Ze Records was like the hippest indie label of the '80s. A few years ago they were reborn in France and the reissues began coming - compilations like the classic Mutant Disco, albums from bands and singers like Cristina and Lizzy Mercier Descloux and Was Not Was, and all that arty "N.Y. No Wave" stuff. It's all great. Last week I stumbled across this compilation at the record shop - Ze Records Presents Undercover. It's their roster of acts doing cover tunes, mostly from the late '70s and early '80s, although there are a few songs on it that were recorded in 2004. It's a great set of tunes where you get Suicide's Alan Vega doing "Be Bop A Lula", the Aural Exciters skronking out "My Boy Lollipop", and Kid Creole & The Coconuts doing "Lili Marlene". You also get these two gems - James White & The Blacks tackle Irving Berlin's (Tropical) Heatwave, done like you never thought it could be. The sax on this is priceless, and makes me want to reel around the room like I'm drunk it's so woozy and sharp. However, it's the shift in the groove about half way through that kills me, where it goes all smoky with the chick vocals and the funk. It's big. As is Coati Mundi's faithful rendition of the Captain Beefheart track Tropical Hot Dog Night. The big difference is in the latin beats he adds and the appearance by Ruben Blades. Coati's manic delivery fits the tune like a glove, and the arrangements are typically big in that Kid Creole style. A highly recommended compilation.


matt said...

I just finished reading Simon Reynold's Rip it up and Start Again: Post Punk 1978-1984. (highly recommended btw).

Silence is A Rhythm (or Riddim) Too became an indispensable companion piece to the book. every few days there's a post like this one that reads and plays like a great a addendum / discography to the various phases of facets of post punk 'n' beyond.

great job as always, and thanks!

Bumblepuppy said...

Fantastic post for those of us who weren't around to enjoy Ze Records the first time. The world needs more punk funk.

Jeffrey Siegel said...

Damn - talk about taking me back - I remember attending a ZE records showcase in NYC back in 1980 - saw Kid Creole and his luscious Coconuts, Lydia Lunch, Christina, and someone who did "Is That All There Is?" (maybe that was Christina - hmmm). Wild stuff.