• Cristina
  • Cristina (ZE/Buddah) 1980 
  • Sleep It Off (ZE/Mercury) 1984 

August Darnell wrote five and produced all of the six long rhythmic romps on Cristina Monet’s first album, but her impassive, inelegant singing ankles them, leaving it a botched mess of colliding styles and sensibilities. At its best, in “Mama Mia,” Darnell effectively buries her in an active mix.

Sleep It Off, produced by Don Was, plays up the satirical possibilities of Cristina’s pre-Madonna ultra-bitch pose (?), having her coolly pronounce witty songs (all her own lyrics) like “Don’t Mutilate My Mink” and “What’s a Girl to Do?” over richly executed multi-styled backing tracks. The musicians — the unofficial Friends of ZE/Was — include erstwhile Knackman Doug Feiger, James Chance, Barry Reynolds, Howie Wyeth and the two Was Bros. Cristina’s deadpan voice perfectly suits this setting and the record is excellent, from the disconcertingly sadistic cover, until the last strummed guitar chord of “He Dines Out on Death” gives way to a brief snippet of restaurant noise.

[Ira Robbins]