Cristina – Cristina, 1980

So good. Cristina was a Harvard drop-out who was working as a writer for The Village Voice when she met (and eventually married) Michael Zilkha, who was in the process of getting the now-legendary ZE Records off the ground. He encouraged her to record a song called “Disco Clone,” written by a former Harvard classmate of hers, which became ZE’s first release in 1978 and featured John Cale production (and, moreover, is really good).

Cristina (later reissued as Doll in the Box) was the first of her two full-lengths. Short and sweet, it was produced by August Darnell of Kid Creole & The Coconuts, and you can hear his signature brassy tropical camp all over it. The heavily textured Latin-jazz percussion brings to mind some of New York no wave’s more polished, dancefloor-ready groups, except it’s fronted by a snarky, jaded Betty Boop. Cristina’s vocals are simultaneously flippant and flirty, often splintering off into multiple personas in dialogue with each other. She leans into that heavy-handed sardonicism even more on her follow-up, Sleep It Off, a grittier piece of electro boasting a proto-Slave to the Rhythm Jean-Paul Goude cover. While Cristina was met with moderate acclaim, Sleep It Off was a commercial flop (so dumb! it’s really good!), leading to Cristina’s musical retirement (though she’s still a writer). Thank you Caroline for putting me onto this!

One thought on “Cristina – Cristina, 1980”

  1. Great post. Nice to see someone else, somewhere in the world is a fellow Cristina fan. I did a vinyl rip of her second LP that you might like. It also includes the original art and a review from ’84.

    The CD reissue really didn’t do it justice sound-wise or in the way they rearranged the song order. The album isn’t as amusing or happy as her debut, but it’s got more depth, and the acoustic closing number makes me wish she’d pressed on with her songwriting. No one else I can think of could come up with a lyric like that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.