Pussy Riot in Russia

The Russians always start tournaments really well, everybody tips them to win the thing and then they bow out tamely. In Euro 2012 they lost to the vile anti-football of Greece. Shame.

Being of a certain age, if you say Russian music to me the first thing I think of is the traditional folk song “Kalinka”, preferably sung by the Red Army Choir.

Here it is – it does admittedly go on a bit after a while but don’t give up on it – at around 5:30 the mighty good-time rock’rollers with the silly haircuts the Leningrad Cowboys start on “Gimme All Your Lovin” – with full accompaniment from the Red Army guys, Russian dancers, the lot. Mental.

If only the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee organisers were a bit more imaginative. Could have had Take That performing “Lazy Sunday Afternoon” backed by the London Symphony Orchestra with Morris dancers. Or are we saving that for the Olympics Opening Ceremony?

Strangely, my late Dad had a version of “Kalinka” by the Red Army Choir which I like to think reflected his socialistic tendencies. I’m adding one of his records per week to My Dad’s Record Collection on Pinterest.  Beats The John Peel Archive into a cocked hat for eclecticism. Not that I am biased.

This is a huge current Russian dance hit. I like it, its got a good beat. Its called “Moscow” by DJ Smash and Vintaj. I like dance music a lot better when I can’t understand the lyrics and can therefore kid myself that they aren’t inane.

Yuri Morozov was one of the first Russian singer-songwriters to embrace psychedelia. Like many of his songs, this has a strong Russian folk influence as well. Not a million miles away from Colorama, who regular readers of this blog will know are one of my favourite Welsh language psych-folk acts of the present day.

Here’s a real oddity from 1971 by a band called Pesnary (the name means “Bards”) – mixes up a lot of different influences. You can hear kids TV themes, psychedelia and an incredibly funky bass line.

Finally, an event that happened in Russia earlier this year which deserves wider attention.

This is a band called Pussy Riot who made a name for themselves earlier this year by storming the stage – sorry, altar – at Christ The Saviour cathedral in Moscow

Not simply latter-day Visigoths doing big jobs in the font, far from it. Although that would obviously be brilliant.

The refrain translates as “Virgin Mary, Mother of God, help us and chase Putin away”

The song is a prayer to the Virgin Mary to ask her for help and protection against Russian fascism, and Vladimir Putin in particular. The band (really a loose feminist collective with an indeterminate number of members, all anonymous) can be seen as radical religious warriors who are fighting for what is right.

The music is pretty basic, but just like punk in the 70s in the UK, the music is not the point. And its fair to say that even post-totalitarianism, there is still more to complain about in Russia than in England’s green and pleasant land.

You can follow the Free Pussy Riot Campaign on Twitter and you can also “like” the Free Pussy Riot Facebook Page.

Please do. Sign petitions, spread the word, this shit is important.

One last thing – I’ve just realised the Leningrad Cowboys are in fact from Finland. Bugger.

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