Soviet Grooves Mixtape #1 by Genn Bo & Souldatov

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“What do we know about Soviet music today?”

I would like to start the introduction to this wonderful mix by raising this question.
It is no secret that USSR artists, including musicians and composers, created their works under rather strict censorship, very often having to make compromises and include propaganda, avoid certain subjects and necessarily add cheesy musical phrases for the proletariat to enjoy. The fact is that with the collapse of USSR, at least officially, while getting rid of all Soviet evil, we also threw away a somewhat innocent musical heritage. By chance or not, this coincided with the times when children started breaking vinyl records by throwing them at the walls of our apartment buildings and households were getting filled with finally freely available cassettes and CDs of Western artists. In such a way a kind of continuity was broken, and probably most of the music created before the collapse of USSR could be unknown to us now, or any time in the future. Unfortunately, radio and television do not play this music either, and track lists of most official releases dedicated to Soviet music are limited to schlagers (with rare exceptions).

Some of you are very familiar with the rare groove movement, born in the 80s pirate radios, dedicated to rarely played and obscure, but very danceable funk. Rare groove especially grew when numerous enthusiasts established their own labels and started releasing compilations dedicated to 70s funky music from all over the world, and, of course, when hip hop and house producers started sampling rare groove vinyl. I would say this movement is one of the reasons why we are experiencing the vinyl revival in the digital age. All of these factors, in one way or another, inspired many young people to buy turntables and start collecting vinyl, and made digging in flea markets and record shops a compulsory ritual of every weekend, business trip or vacation. Some of those diggers naturally came to a question – if funk music was everywhere at the time, what did our music sound like? While seeking answers, tens or even hundreds of pieces of evidence have been discovered, showing that, despite censorship and prohibition of Western culture, music is stronger that any iron curtain. According to one of the famous band leaders of that time, no one knew then that it was funk, but it was in the air and in the ears of many, and they were inspired by the 70s jazz funk and grands of soul, such as Stevie Wonder. Due to the fact that examples of funky music can be found all over the territory of the former USSR, this music got labeled soviet groove. To avoid any political connotations, it is necessary to emphasize that the word ‘soviet’ in this case describes a particular time, cultural space and system of censorship, cheating which in any way possible was part and parcel of the birth of this music.

The mix is opened by the Lithuanian Nancy Sinatra – Nijolė Tallat Kelpšaitė who sings an anti-war interpretation of “Bang Bang”. Such bands as “Pojushchie Serdca”, “Krasnyje Maki” and “Samocvety” are a perfect example of schlager bands that also have a strong funky side. Led by Georgij Garanyan, the ensemble “Melodiya” is definitely one of those whose records are always full of groove. Here it performs Caucasian compositions by A.Ekimyan, in between which the vocal quartet “Akkord” is singing a song from the movie “The Sandpit Generals” – an interpretation of the legendary Brazilian composer’s Dorival Caymmi “Marcha dos pescadores”. “Tainstvennyj ostrov” astonishes with “fat” bass, percussion and flute lines. The band “DISCO” blends “Buffalo Springfield” – “Stop Children What’s That Sound” with “Smoke on the Water” and turns it into a genuine soviet soul gem. “Charivni Gitari” presents Ukrainian funk and psychedelic folk-rock, and “Kto-to” by Sofia Rotaru of Romanian descent makes you wonder why and how such a singer morphed from a Ukrainian folk rock diva into a Russian Pop queen. Vanja Stojkovič adds some Yugoslavian rock to the mix, “Dikie Gitary” plays an excerpt of a quite paradoxical rock fairy tale for children about… the “wrongs” of rock, “Golubyje Gitary” – a song from the musical “Krasnaya shapochka, seryj volk i Golubyje Gitary”. Polada Biul-Biul Ogly from Azerbaijan is singing about its capital Baku and his homeland, “Gaya” – one of the most famous Georgian ensembles – is beckoning spring in disco timing, “Sovremennik” surprises with one more flute jazz funk, Lev Leshchenko sings an ode to love. All of this intense groove stream is topped with a Lithuanian song “Juodalksnių Pavėsyje” – a soul / boogie diamond by “Estradinės melodijos“.

Listen and enjoy!

[Liner notes by Vytautas Weedska Verseckas, Vilnius, LT 2012]

Free digital release and limited compact disc + zine and T-shirt edition with handmade screen prints.

CD + Zine / SOLD OUT
T-Shirt / 10 Eu

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  1. Nijolė Tallat-Kelpšaitė — Beng Beng!
  2. ВИА Поющие сердца — Стучись в любую дверь
  3. ВИА Красные Маки — Не успокоимся
  4. ВИА Самоцветы — Ай лазат
  5. А.Экимян — Свидание С Ереваном
  6. ВИА Аккорд — Песня о беспризорном мальчишке
  7. А.Экимян — Ваннская легенда
  8. Оркестр “Современник” — Таинственный остров
  9. А.Петренко “Диско” — Мгновенье стой
  10. ВИА Чаривни Гитары — Добрый Дождик
  11. София Ротару — Кто-то
  12. Ваня Стойкович — Есть время для любви
  13. ВИА Дикие гитары — Дикие гитары
  14. ВИА Голубые гитары — Песенка волка
  15. Полад Бюль-Бюль оглы — Город мой баку
  16. ВИА Гая — Идёт весна
  17. Оркестр “Современник” — Здравствуй, современник
  18. Полад Бюль-Бюль оглы — Край родной
  19. Лев Лещенко — Я люблю тебя всегда
  20. Danutė Neimontaitė ir “Estradinės melodijos” — Juodalksnių pavėsy

Compiled and mixed: Genn Bo & Souldatov
Photo/Video: Alina Agarkova and Mindaugas Šukys
Text: Weedska
Design: Tonya Golmant
Big ups to Deniska, Ponas Malka, Weedska, Spitzin, Boris Afinogenov, Jelena Ura, Pranza, Odessa, Nastka Om, “Jalta” crew and you.