Various Artists – Zevolution: ZE Records Re-Edited

January 01, 1970

(Strut)

 

www.strut-records.com

 

This is the record you play for
someone who thinks all disco was only mindless, lowest-common denominator dance
music with no artistic redeeming value. While most disco was by nature both
simplistic and populist, like any musical genre it’s as good or mediocre as
those producing it, and ZE Records had an uncanny knack for finding the very
best of the best. 

 

ZE Records was there at the
beginning and at the beginning was ZE Records. One of the key independent
labels in 1970s New York City, ZE’s catalogue captured and set loose both some
of the cream of the Manhattan mutant disco scene, some of the land-mark
recordings from the lower east side art damage scene and a host of
genre-leaping records where in-house producers/arrangers/band leaders/musicians
like August Darnell, Stony Browder Jr., Bob Blank and Andy Hernandez let their
imaginations run wild. They released fabulously eccentric records by Lydia
Lunch, Lizzie Mercier Descloux, James White and The Blacks and The Contortions,
along with slicker but no less original work by Christina, Kid Creole & The
Coconuts, Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band and odd-ball one-offs of
different combinations of in-house musicians like Don Armando’s Rhumba Band and
Aural Exciters. Hopefully they made some bank funneling Don and David Was and
their Was Not Was combo into the majors and on to producing the likes of The
Rolling Stones.

 

Zevolution re-edits –
not remixes – eleven tracks cut between 1979 and 1982. Working with only the
finished master recording of each song (not the individual instrumental
tracks), these reworkings clean up, boost up, boost out and reconfigure
finished tracks and generally bring everything into cleaner, harder focus than
the originals. Unlike many remixes, which render original tracks all but
unrecognizable, the re-edits on Zevolution have the effect of making
these songs sound even more like themselves than the originals, not
less. Zevolution is a zeroing in on the essence. 

 

The effect is thrilling. The
Rub’N’Tub edit of “Bustin’ Out” by Material with Nona Hendryx boosts both the
rock and the funk into a dance-floor bombshell. The clean funk bass on the
Social Club Disco Edit of “Cowboys & Gangsters” by Gichy Dan’s Beachwood 9
will have booty-bass-heads coast to coast in a lather. The Filthy & Foolish
Edit for “Spooks in Space” by Aural Exciters takes the original’s already
considerable forward motion and pumps it up to even more excitable levels of
tail-wagging hubba hubba. Greg Wilson ZE-Edit of the Was Not Was hit “Tell Me
That I’m Dreaming” brings the focus onto the high-hat and downbeat and cuts
away some of the fat of the original.  The Leo Zero Edit of Garcons’
“Encore L’Amore” is a French electro-disco creamer that fans of Stereolab will
swoon over. Pilooski’s “Not The Indian” mix of one of Don Armando’s signature
songs “I’m An Indian” channels both the inner house music and the art damage
within. And, just to remind us that ZE Records has a particularly spiky side,
they include a Richard Sen edit of James White & The Blacks’ “Almost Black”
that manages to boost virtually everything that made the original such a
classic while making it both more danceable and accessible. They cap it all off
with Soul Mekanik’s ‘Bounty Girls’ edit of Kid Creole & The Coconuts
“Annie, I’m Not Your Daddy” that finds and pumps up the inner Orb in the
original into a rave-ready glow-stick twirler. 

 

Like, wow. This is as good as
“disco” gets and one of the great dance comps of the last few years, a full
party in a package, ready when you are.

 

Standout Tracks:
“Bustin’ Out,” “Encore L’Amore,” “Cowboys and Gangsters,” “Tell Me That I’m
Dreaming.” CARL HANNI

 

 

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