One day my Austrian roommate came home and told me that one of the biggest bands in Russian rock history would be playing a show in Piter. How could i say no? So i went to the Cultural Palace with a group of Austrian students, a nation not known for its dedication to rock. The lobby was filled with Russians of every age and clique. Middleagers. Teens. Hippies. Metalheads. Punks. New Russians. Everyone. We found our seats near the back of the auditorium, but it was clear that the Russians–as is their way–were going to pay no attention to any rule stamped on a piece of paper. The chair free section in front of the stage was filling up fast, and i wanted to be up there. Once the band played their first chord i turned to my companions and said, “Stay here if you want, but i won’t.” I pushed down into the crowd with my companions following and had one of the best times of my life.
Keep in mind that the whole history of rock basically exploded in Russia during the 1980’s. I own a copy of Melodia’s release of the Rolling Stone’s greatest hits “19 Nervous Songs” that’s dated 1990. Of course, Western music was slipped into the country and passed from hand-to-hand in the traditional method of popular subversion before being allowed. But to a great extent Russians got The Beatles, Elvis and The Stones at the same time they got Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath and Metallica. It makes Russian rock, which tends to retain Russian folk influences, pretty interesting.
The band i saw that night can probably be described as “The Russian Beatles”. Chaif is still growing strong. The name is a contraction of the Russian word for “tea” and the Russian transliteration of “jive”; the story goes that they would play while getting rather high on strong tea brewed in a coffee maker. A lot of the catalog is rather melancholic…they are Russians after all. And with that i’ll stop talking and let you listen to two of Russia’s rock greats.
“Nye Dai Mnye Povod”
“Nikto Nye Uslishit” (Oy-Yo)
“Rock’N’Roll Etoi Nochi”
“Davai Vernyomsya” (my personal favorite)
And now onto DDT, the other giant of Russian Rock…
“Eta Vsyo” (possibly the saddest song in history, and while i’m not much for orchestral arrangements, good videos of this are hard to come by)
Oy, kak eto builo davno…
Categories: Music/Popular Culture