Saturday, April 05, 2008

Mothers, don't let your sons grow up to be...


Unless, that is, they want to grow up to be Ленинградская Ковбои!

That would be Leningrad Cowboys, tovaritsch.

It all began when I saw this video of Sweet Home Alabama posted on Joan's wonderful journal. What she finds funny, I find funny, just as I always find her stories, comments and photos well worth looking at. That's a big hint that you should go there if you don't already. And go there regularly.

Okay, so I watched, and was initially amused by the garish striped suits, unicorn hairdos, long pointed shoes and Spaceman Spiff sunglasses.

But when I watched a second time, I realized there was some serious musicianship going on along with the outlandish stagecraft. These guys are good. They know what they're doing, and do it well.

One has to wonder how a Finnish band with a Russian name managed to get the Red Army Choir to join in. Those guys are heavyweights, Jim. They've made more than their share of recordings and, if I recall, appearances on PBS back in the old Soviet Union days. By and large, they do the traditional stuff and are pretty formal.

The Choir members are not just singers, but instrumentalists as well.

So why were they rocking out -- and clearly enjoying it -- here? I dunno. Money, I suppose, but also surely the "serious" musician's normal urge to cut loose a bit. And some, as seen on the videos, were cutting loose quite a bit.

It's a remarkable combination: pretty decent rock musicians with those performing Russkies in their formal uniforms. Standard guitars, drums, bass and a Russian orchestra with balalaikas, accordions, brass and acoustic guitars.

Think Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention meet the U.S. Navy Band, with the Marines and Air Force musicians thrown in.

A few more must-see/must-hear examples: Delilah and Happy Together.

But my favorites were the "classics." The Cowboys'/Red Army Choir's treatment of the old Russian song Kalinka is downright inspired.

The high point, at least for me, is Those Were the Days, which is of course an old Russian Folk Song given English lyrics much later.

Who would have thought those humorless Commies had it in them?

Not me, comrades.

I doubt they would have (or could have) been in shows like these back in the days of Uncle Joe Stalin and Nikita the K, though.

Это классных. Очень здорово. I'm ordering some CDs. And a t-shirt.

Будьте первым, на блок-сделать то же самое, попутчиками!


Birdie said...

I heard of this group way back in the 80's already... their hair-dos freak me out!

I love the Mary Hopkins version of "Those were the days", in fact I have an original Apple record 45 version!

John0 said...

These guys are great. Joan hit the right nerve on that one. I like their traditional pieces, too. It is all excellent. And the look is purely inspired.
I'm saving money but I can always hit them on youtube.

John0 said...

Their Leningrad video is something too. These guys know what a band should be.

Anonymous said...

I'd never heard of this group until Japee's link. I guess I don't get out much. Thanks for providing my morning concert. :)


MrScribbler said...

JohnO -- Of course we can't ignore the Leningrad Cowgirls! They're as fine a pair of nifties as ever drove tractors across the steppes....

Japee said...

Aren't they grand! You found more about them than I did. I couldn't stop clicking on all those links last night. Too fun.

MrScribbler said...

Japee -- I'm hooked, and it's all your fault!

Anonymous said...

Speaking of "Those Were the Days", which incidentally goes great in dixieland, I first heard that song back in 1966 in a city called Vaduz.


betty said...

Oh wow, I watched all of them. Fantastic! I've never heard of them, now I have a new group to listen to and watch on youtube. Thanks. :)

Anonymous said...

i have to admit, though, that my response to your blog title was "chipmunks".

what's that in russian?


MrScribbler said...

Pezzy -- он chipmunk ... что же вы ожидаете?

Or so says the Google translation. I sure as heck can't speak Russian. Sometimes, translating their phrases back into English makes me think the programmers of the Google computer don't speak it either!

Japee said...

Now we know what to play if we ever have a big JS get together. I want the pointy toe shoes.

MrScribbler said...

Japee -- Even as we speak (write), I am letting my hair grow so I can have one of those unicorn 'dos!

The Cowboys need to put together another US tour. We're making new fans for them.

Guhn said...

See Please Here

Anonymous said...

It made me flick my bic.

Birdie said...

heh, Scribby... have you defected to Russia or what? *wink*

joan said...

Thanks for the new link!
Psssst: Are you in Leningrad yet?

Whatsername again....? said...

omg i update scibbles! also i miss you and hope youre well!

Whatsername again....? said...

btw happy blog birthday!