Tag Archives: Russia

Surf’s Up Comrades: Voodoo Surf (Fresh Links)

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Here I am in Australia for a brief interlude with family once again. What a joy!

And somehow, whenever one finds oneself in this country, the mind turns to surfing (and any number of other outdoor sports) which is one of the true religions the people of these regions adhere to. Not that I partake in the sport. I don’t. I am a new (ish) immigrant and sports, whether water based or any other are something I prefer to watch rather than participate in. Yet there is something genuinely uplifting about seeing people on boards navigating themselves between and over and under waves in the middle of a deep blue sea.

Surfing music is a form that has a very loyal (not to say, fanatic) following. I thought it was no longer en vouge until some years ago a taxi driver in Sydney raved for the entire ride about his passion for this guitar driven instrumental music. Not really rock n roll but not really any other genre, surf music has secured its own unique niche. And if the taxi driver was to be believed, it was still being churned out by contemporary bands in Australia and elsewhere.

I recently posted something on The Ventures which comes pretty close to surf-like music. I do rather enjoy the crisp picking of an Stratocaster and the snap of a tight drum head but still surf music was a bit ‘outre’ for my tastes, so I thought. My mind jumps to the Beach Boys (never big heroes in my book) and long forgotten acts like Jan and Dean. Dick Dale is a cult hero but not really mainstream.

So I had little to say to the Sydney cab driver except nod and say I’d check ‘it out’.

Well I have done a bit of checking in recent days and I must say I do like surf music. Or at least surf music as interpreted by Ukrainian, Russian and other former Iron Curtain country bands. Yes, you read that right. Eastern Bloc surf music. I’ve heard many things about the Ural Sea and Aral Sea too. And of course the Black Sea and Arctic Ocean are all part of the former Russian empire. But I have never come across a surfing scene in any of these bodies of water. Be that as it may, there is a strong contingent of musicians who love the sounds of Mr Dale and other Californian surf bands from the 1950s and 60s.

So while I don’t make any claims that this is authentic surf music (hence the name of the album, Voodoo Surf) I do commend it to you as very enjoyable instrumental music that sounds as if it could have been made in the garages of Alhambra, Santa Clara and Pasadena in the years before the hippies took over the discourse and ruined it all. And that this was made in darkest (and coldest) Minsk, Moscow and Kiev is all the more reason to say, ‘Far out!’

Every track here is infectious and entertaining. Though they all are of a piece they are also every one of them distinct and different. Some channel the Texas blues while others seem to have hired Max Weinberg of the E Street Band to play drums. They lift riffs from cowboy movies (or riffs that should be in cowboy movies) and conjure 1964 perfectly. Not a vocalising sound is heard anywhere on this record (except for some cryptic dark barking and French whispers here and there).

If you want something different and fun to shine in your day…then give this little record a spin. My favourite? 36-24-36! Play it often. Play if loud!

Surf’s Up!

Voodoo Surf

Track Listing:

01 Surf Melody

02 Vaquero-San

03 French

04 Psychos

05 Immersion

06 Picked Legs

07 Tainted Love

08 Keep Breathin’

09 Sharks

10 Man With The Scar

11 Godzilla’s Dream

12 Bustin’ Chainsaws

13 Ñâåòèò ìåñÿö

14 Signal From Tremoluna Planet

15 36-24-36

16 Lightning Rod

17 Das Boot

18 Breakers

19 Mikkie Goes To School

20 Suffer

21 Neptune

22 Messing with Motor Chick

23 Ghost Theme

24 Õî›îâîä

25 Midnight Preacher

VuDu

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Siberian California Surf-a-billy: The Red Elvises

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This is the season of zany, eyebrow raising Eurotrash pop music.  Eurovision, which has been called the ‘blending of soft pop and soft porn’, is the annual televised competition for ‘best’ pop band across Euro-land.  This year’s winner, announced this weekend,  is from Austria, the bearded diva Conchita Wurst!  Oh, for the days of Do Re Mi and Edelweiss!

Conchita Wurst

Conchita Wurst

With this post the Washerman’s Dog dips its toe into the general hilarity and spirit of this most camp of all weekends on the European cultural calendar.

 

The Red Elvises, aka Igor and the Red Elvises,is a ‘Siberian Surf Band’ by way of Germany, the old USSR and the Golden State, that is fiercely dedicated to drinking, taking the piss and playing a loud blend-o-matic stream of mainly American influenced music in which one can find chunks of rockabilly, rock ‘n roll, Americana and falsetto (often Russian accented) vocalisations about such things as love being better than cocaine (but more hurtful than back pain), drinking with Old Testament prophets and twisting like Hollywood starlets.

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Growing up in the land of Breshnev and Andropov was pretty bleak for Igor Yuzov. Probably was for most young Soviet pioneers who longed to rock’n roll rather than fulfil the industrial quota for washers or plastic bottles.  Folk music, served up with a heavy slather of Slavic seriousness, was what the young boy was weaned on and that strong grounding in melodic, storytelling is easily discernible in the music of The Red Elvises. 

 

At some point, perhaps in the late 80s, early 90s, (dates are as fungible in this biography as the statistics of a Russian history textbook) young Mr Yuzov makes his way to the land of Milk and Honey and Chevrolets.  His Rusky-folk band, Limpopo, changes name to ‘Crazy Russian Rock n’ Roll Group’ and claim to win the famous ‘Star Search’ talent show. (Though like so many facts associated with Russia, this is not confirmed by the great book of all knowledge, Wikipedia).

Igor and his gang of Red Elvises

Igor and his gang of Red Elvises

About 20 years ago the road to Damascus experience happens.  Elvis appears to Igor in a dream state (could be the hangover) and orders him to become an apostle of rock ‘n roll. Moving to the streets where they are more at home than in the studio, the band, which takes in all sorts of musicians from all points around the globe, gain a fan base in Santa Monica. At last the city fathers have their fill of their raucous busking and order them off the streets!

Over the years though, the band, which refuses to compromise on its vision of telling it like they want to say it, and shuns major labels, develops a cultish following (very appropriate for an ex-Soviet comrade, I guess) and tours the world entertaining the masses.

So here we go folks! Worthy we are not! Let’s give it up for Igor and the Red Elvises.

 Drinking With Jesus

Track Listing:

01 Drinking With Jesus

02 Lara’s Wedding

03 Better Than Cocaine

04 Me & My Baby

05 Tra-la-la

06 Twist Like Uma Thurman

07 Into the Sun

08 Don’t Crucify Me

09 Play Me Your Banjo

10 Wearing Black

11 Stupid Drinking Song

12 Paris Waltz

13 Bourbon Street

★★★

Russian Muse: Niels Lan Doky

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Another fine album in my recently-begun mini-series on Danish music.  Niels Lan Doky, is a jazz pianist with a gold plated CV.  At the age of 15 he played with veteran trumpeter Thad Jones who was so impressed that he recommended the Danish-Vietnamese teenager to the prestigious Berklee School of Music in Boston.  Since becoming a professional musician he has worked with or had the services of John Scofield, Joe Henderson, Woody Shaw, Jack DeJohnette, Bob Berg, Clark Terry and Tom Harrell amongst others.  Though he worked out of New York for several years, he is currently based in Paris and as such is not as well-known as he should be in the USA.

Niels Lan Doky

Niels Lan Doky

The album in the spotlight today is from 2012 in which Doky interprets the works of several Russian classical composers such as Rimsky-Korsakov, Mussorgsky and Tchaikovsky. The piano playing is very lyrical and fluid and his jazz accompanists are equally adept at making these pieces take on new life.

Here is AMG’s review.

Pianist Niels Lan Doky explores classical music by seven different Russian composers who were active during the 19th and 20th centuries. Joined by drummer Alex Riel and bassist Pierre Boussaguet, several of Doky‘s arrangements leave much of the romanticism of the original works intact as he plays variations of their famous themes, gradually converting Modest Mussorgsky’s “Promenade” (from Pictures at an Exhibition) into a bluesy vehicle, though his adaptation of Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumble Bee” is a full-fledged, high-octane post-bop improvisation, not introducing its theme until near the end of the performance. The arrangement of Tchaikovsky‘s “Theme from Violin Concerto in D Major” is in honor of the late bassist Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen and a lush feature for Boussaguet and the leader, accompanied by Riel‘s sensitive brush work. Doky’s originals fit in beautifully with the concept of this remarkable CD, sounding like modern classics themselves, though without a Russian flavor, especially the Impressionistic “Improvised Colours,” which the trio evidently created on the spot during the recording sessions.

Russsian front russian back

Track Listing:

01 Pictures at an Exhibition

02 Theme from Suite Italienne

03 Theme from Piano Concerto No. 2 – First movement

04 Theme from Love For Three Oranges Suite

05 Theme from Piano Concerto No. 2 – First movement

06 Theme from The Nutcracker

07 Theme from Violin Concerto in D Major

08 Simonova

09 Flight of the Bumble Bee

10 Theme from Piano Concerto No. 2 – Third

11 Misty Dawn

12 Improvised Colours

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