Cristina: Things Fall Apart UK 7″ 
- Things Fall Apart [v. 1]
- Disco Clone
The Monk doesn’t really have too much seasonal cheer and musical memories tied into Christmas. I can count the Christmas songs I really enjoy on the fingers of one stump, for the most part. This record is singular in the Monk’s Record Cell for being holiday oriented and yet…utterly compelling.
This song was my first taste of the incomparable Cristina Monet. Back in 1981, when WPRK-FM, my local cool college radio station was besotted with all things Ze, they played a passel of punk-funk tunes throughout most of the year. In 1981 the “Ze Christmas Album” was released and this track got heavy airplay during the most wonderful time of the year. It begins with a musical box melody that fades into a brittle reverb before the stinging guitars begin adding their acid into the mix. Ms. Monet’s fatalistic vocals then begin their deadpan observations on how she is fated to careen through life never fitting in with “the crowd” and living “alone again, alone.”
The music is co-written and produced by Was (Not Was) and this a less frantic outing that the band’s early Zappa goes Funkadelic phase. The insistent guitar riffs gently add anxiety to the listener as the song progresses and Cristina reviews the [non]events of her Christmas season with a clinical, dispassionate glare. Underneath it all, the nihilistic rhythm section purrs like a cat waiting to pounce.
This is matte black and chromium rock disco with a heart of steel and a degree from Amherst.
The B-side was Cristina’s debut single from 1978, in an alternate production by Bob Blank, and the owner of her label [and her spouse], Michael Zilkha. The original single was produced by John Cale on 12″ in an edition of 1500 copies and I’ve never had the pleasure. This version is a very witty disco song that looked satirically at the whole disco phenomenon while being drenched in over-exposed disco tropes like those verdammt strings. The actual lead vocal is an uncredited Kevin Kline, at his suave best as a disco lothario attempting to put the moves a girl in the club only to come to the realization that they’re all really the same, so maybe it doesn’t matter anyway. Cristina plays each bimbette he’s fixated on with a girlish glee that sounds terribly wrong having first heard her on the A-side.
The A-side was re-configured the following year on the 1982 re-boot of the “Ze Christmas Album” with a slightly different mix that had a different conclusion of the final verse. I have that LP so I’m lucky enough to have both versions in-house. This song made me a huge fan of Cristina, and I was excited to find she had previously released an album on Ze as produced by August Darnell. I snapped that up and can’t say I cared for it as much as the stance evidenced on this single. Fortunately, in 1983, my patience was rewarded with her second and final album, the incomparable classic “Sleep It Off.” More about which I will pontificate on one fine day.
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