Cristina Monet Zilkha’s Legacy Served Well With New CD Remaster Of “Sleep It Off” And Biographical Book/Website

cristina monktone

Last Friday was the release date of the CD that I never expected to see, but I should know better than to underestimate the powers of Rubellan Remasters. They are the plucky reissue label [run by one person – Scott Davies] that often seems like a manifestation of my brain gone rogue and given to grandiose realizations of my wildest fantasies of deluxe CD remasters. Sure, sure. Of late they are diving into the LP reissue trend [with a colorful line in Ultravox, Visage, and Oingo Boingo LPs], but this is a full-fledged CD and we wasted little time in ordering our personal copy!

I have written at length about the fulsome merits of “Sleep It Off,” the second, and sadly final Cristina album at length. If I didn’t have limited time and a number of targets to hit today, I would be capable of extolling its astonishing virtues even further, but suffice to say that this was the CD that can correct the numerous issues with the single, earlier CD mastering of this amazing piece of work. Which we’ll next see.

cristina sleep it off DLX RM CD 2023 Rubellan Remasters
Rubellan Remasters | US | CD | 2023 | RUBY46CD

Cristina: Sleep It Off – US – CD [2023]

  1. Don’t Mutilate My Mink 3:12
  2. Ticket To The Tropics 4:20
  3. She Can’t Say That Anymore 3:05
  4. Quicksand Lovers 3:16
  5. Rage & Fascination 4:31
  6. Ballad Of Immoral Earnings 4:17
  7. What’s A Girl To Do 3:31
  8. The Lie Of Love 4:31
  9. Blue Money 4:12
  10. He Dines Out On Death 2:34
  11. Things Fall Apart 4:29
  12. Disco Clone (7″ Mix) 4:12
cristina sleep it off 2004 cover

Even before we play it, the noveau ZE Records penchant for revision was manifest on even the iconic Jean Paul Goode cover art. Not in the physically altered Kodachrome slides sliced with an X-acto® and spliced crudely with cellophane tape, but the typography had been changed to a mixture of serif and sans serif, without the crude punch that the original typography reflected on the now restored cover on the Rubellan Remasters CD.

Meanwhile, a look at the rear cover was even more dramatic with the original song order as shown above in tracks 1-10 a welcome return from the radical re-think of the 2004 CD as shown below.

  1. What’s A Girl To Do
  2. Ticket To The Tropics
  3. The Lie Of Love
  4. Quicksand Lovers
  5. Rage & Fascination
  6. Ballad Of Immortal Earnings
  7. She Can’t Say That Anymore
  8. Blue Money
  9. Don’t Mutilate My Mink
  10. He Dines Out On Death
  11. Smile
  12. Deb Behind Bars
  13. Things Fall Apart
  14. When U Were Mine
  15. Deb Behind Bars [Alternate Version]
  16. You Rented A Space

The bonus tracks on each issue differed greatly. With Rubellan Remasters licensing the master tapes from Universal Music Group so that just the album and two crucial earlier tracks that were released adjacent to “Sleep It Off” were available for CD issue. “Things Fall Apart” was the siren song I’d heard from Cristina in 1981 from the ZE Christmas Album, where it got college radio airplay and made me an instant fan. Though here it was the longer 1982 version that was used for the CD. That single’s B-side, the second recording of Cristina’s debut single “Disco Clone,” guest starred a rakish Kevin Klein as the unnamed Disco Lothario narrating the record to Cristina’s girly choruses ripped straight from the Marilyn Monroe playbook.

cristina things fall apart

The biggest difference on this new issue was down to something that I mentioned the last paragraph. This 2023 CD from Rubellan Remasters was actually mastered from a master tape! Sadly, the earlier masterings of “Sleep If Off” were taken from vinyl, and even worse, these recordings were further brickwalled to make them an exceptionally harsh listen. As the following wave images of the same song from each disc [the iconic “What’s A Girl To Do”] will duly reveal.


2004 mastering of "What's A Girl To Do"
WHAT’S A GIRL TO DO » The 2004 ZE Records mastering had little dynamic range


2023 mastering of "What's A Girl To Do"
WHAT’S A GIRL TO DO » The 2023 Rubellan Remasters mastering was beautiful to hear

Listening to the differences between the editions was dramatic! Being taken from an LP, the 2004 edition featured excessive harsh sibilance on Cristina’s vocals as well as the mushy sounding cymbals and hi-hats. Details in the vibraphones and other percussive filigree were sadly lacking. And Scott Davies had admitted that he sought to tame the traditional [and anomalous] brittle high end footprint of “She Can’t Say That Any More” with a more balanced EQ curve. So for the first time ever, this song feels integrated with the surrounding album.

Having this CD fulfills a long-standing wish of mine to have something better than the 2004 disc. I was almost to the point of mastering my own copy from vinyl before I saw the happy news that it would be a Rubellan “passion project” and the label’s first CD release in six months. Anyone reading this far really needs to order this before it’s all gone. There will be probably a single pressing of it and when it’s sold out, that ship will have sailed. The early ZE CD editions have been OOP for ages and priced accordingly in the aftermarket. This CD is currently plentiful and priced to move at $15.99. Moreover, it actually gives these stellar songs and performances the staging that they so richly deserve. Act accordingly!

post-punk monk buy button


ZE Books | 2022 | 400 p.

It was some time shortly following Cristina’s tragic death in the early days of the pandemic when I received an amazing email from Ian Birch; a name I knew from the days of Melody Maker and Smash Hits magazine. Mr. Birch revealed that he was writing and ,editing a book about Cristina and would I like to contribute a brief essay? Astonished that I was being invited to this project, I absolutely replied in the affirmative and sent off a brief and concise paragraph detailing what her art had meant to me. Hard to believe on all counts, if you’re familiar with not only the millions of words here at PPM but also my decidedly modest stature in the blogosphere [is that still a word?].

From the summer of 2020 through the next two years I would get an occasional missive from Mr. Birch on the project, updating me on its status as it hummed along. It was two years later when I was informed that the book was going to press and would be done soon. I asked him what the street date was so that I could time a review of it here on PPM and I received the bombshell that although it was being designed and published by ZE Books, there was no commercial release of the 400 page tome. The book had been privately commissioned for Cristina’s friends and family by her partner, Stephen Graham. Since I had been a contributor, I would also be getting a copy. Oh my.

Since I was absolutely the target audience for this book, I was especially grateful that I would be able to read a copy! How I wanted to find out all I could about the recording of her two, very different albums, with the strongest emphasis on the still-astonishing “Sleep It Off.” I also had an intense curiosity about what she had done during the many years when she was effectively retired from writing and recording music. I had heard tantalizing mentions of critical writing for the Village Voice and other publications, but I had seen nothing concrete over the years.

Fortunately, the estate of Cristina have not kept the amazing contents of the book a public secret, and to that end, they have built a website that contains all of the content for anyone to read and view. While there’s nothing quite like a mind-bogglingly thorough coffee table book on the life and art of a singer like Cristina, the website does have one over on the book by way of the songs and videos embedded within it for viewing and listening. I’d hate to be reading this book without having all of the relevant music [or videos] at arm’s reach.

The book and site were chock-full of candid recollections by family, partners, friends, and peers that detailed the full breadth of her life and times. From her childhood through her tempering in the artistic cauldrons of Harvard, London, and Paris. The full story was here with her unexpected transformation from a student of English History and Literature, to a theater critic, and ultimately a mononymous recording artist.

I’d read the occasional web article or interview about her flagging health [autoimmune issues and possibly more] that ultimately made her an early target for the Covid-19 virus along the way, but her post-ZE Records life was duly recounted intricate detail as she became a mother and then single. She ultimately re-connected near the end of her life with Stephen Graham; an early flame who she didn’t quite synch with in her youth, but who was the right man many years on. Most tantalizing were the lyrics for songs that were never recorded or possibly even completed with a score to record. There were at least two albums worth of material she had written in her notebooks [the source of many scanned images in her own hand here] that exist now to taunt her fans with their vibrancy.

Furthermore, a wealth of her published writings post-1984 were included here as well; making “Cristina” an well-wounded portrait of an artist with an enviable ability to write songs [as well as art and literary criticism] that were singular in their cold-eyed precision in hitting their targets full on. Making this book an enticing glimpse of not only the woman behind such observations, but also carrying the artistic seeds of songs which never managed to germinate in the years past her active recording career.

Fortunately for anyone reading this, the full content of the book is online now, with each chapter available as an excerpted web page with a PDF download of the full text. Click the homepage image below to read the new Cristina website that goes far beyond the handfuls of interviews that have popped up on the web in the last 20 years. This is what we’ve all been waiting for.

Cristina Monet Zilkha ©1984 Josef Astor
Cristina Monet Zilkha ©1984 Josef Astor

Join us tomorrow for a look at another book that ZE Books is publishing that we can all order and read.


About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
This entry was posted in Book Review, Deadpan Women, Record Review and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Cristina Monet Zilkha’s Legacy Served Well With New CD Remaster Of “Sleep It Off” And Biographical Book/Website

  1. Roy Solomon says:

    Thanks for the heads up on this CD reissue, I have ordered my copy for shipping to the UK. I have been looking for this LP off and on, over the years but never found a copy at a reasonable price.
    I have a couple of her songs on the Mutant Disco compilation, Drive My Car and Disco Clone (with Kevin Kline). I remember seeing the original LP in record shops back in the early ’80’s and being struck by the cover but having limited funds, I never took a chance and bought it. I also recall reading about her in the NME, when the Ze label was all the rage back around 81/82, just before Kid Creole made it big in the UK (I also saw his UK concert debut).
    I am looking forward to receiving the CD after all these years.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. MRDA says:

    I’ve just ordered Scott’s version, but I’m gonna trawl around for those ZE-release bonus tracks; I need ‘Deb Behind Bars’ on my ’80s playlist.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      MRDA – Welcome to the comments! You won’t regret having the Rubellan Remaster of “Sleep It Off” one iota! Nor will you regret hearing the unreleased songs on the earlier ZE CD. Which version of “Deb Behind Bars” is your preference?


  3. kurtbreighley says:

    Splendid news on all fronts. As much as I adored the additional material on the ZE CD (and the chance to chat w/ Cristina for the liners), I’m just as excited to hear the restored version with improved fidelity. And I’m positively gobsmacked by the wealth of content on the website. Thank you for showcasing both these remarkable achievements.

    Liked by 1 person

    • postpunkmonk says:

      kurtbreighley – Welcome to the comments! Actually, for true Cristina fans, both “Sleep It Off” CDs are requisite. The first for the unreleased tracks and your excellent liner notes, and the Rubellan Remasters edition for the sheer pleasure of listening to that album the way it was meant to be heard! Possibly better, re: “She Can’t Say That Any More.” “Wealth of content” doesn’t begin to cover the Cristina website/book. I still cannot believe that it actually happened and never mind to such a high standard.

      Liked by 1 person

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