Celluloid Records was one of those labels who saw the future. Founded by Parisian record store owner Jean Karakos in the late 70s, Celluloid took a polymath approach to pop music, incorporating elements of funk, progressive rock, Afro-beat and early hip-hop & electronic music into a lively mix of sounds released over the course of next decade. Aided by de facto house producer Bill Laswell, Karakos embarked on a release schedule that, while seemingly obscure 30 years later, was filled with contributions by some of the most influential artists of their time, from Fela Kuti, Afrika Bambaataa and John Lydon to Brian Eno, Ginger Baker and Whitney Houston. Strut Records (a label clearly cut from the same cloth as Celluloid) celebrates this groundbreaking crew with a new, 2CD retrospective that showcases many of the label’s finest moments.
Taking its name from Fab 5 Freddy’s bilingual hip-hop classic, this set ranges from a collaboration between new wave pioneers Thomas Leer and Robert Rental to Laswell’s rework of African legend Manu Dibango’s “Abele Dance.” There’s punky jams from the likes of Richard Hell, as well as Timezone’s unexpected underground hit, “World Destruction,” and lots in between. A stellar history lesson (particularly of the incredibly vibrant NYC scene of the 80s that Celluloid was right in the middle of), Change the Beat: The Celluloid Story 1980-1987 is a must-listen for fans of the ever-increasing multi-cultural melting pot of the best of today’s sounds, revealing one of the true wellsprings for much of what serious music junkies are listening to in 2013.
-Eric J. Lawrence
This album will be available from February 25 through March 1st.