Wednesday, November 2, 2016

POLITICS: POLITYKA/ the Ukrainians

Have to say I am heartily sick of politics this year. And that is without even any involvement in the shitstorm of and around the who will be the next POTUS. Over here in the mother(land) of all parliaments we have had our own japes, "brexiting" Europe, or the EU, or planning to, at one stage having the similar threat of a bouffant haired shockwig idiot at the helm of our nation too. What does it mean? Probably that it is the sacred chalice of democracy that I am currently hating, as it was the voice of the people that chose to ignore the experts and believe the charlatans. By a pretty damn narrow margin. But hey, look on the bright side, holidays in the UK and british goods have suddenly become so much better value for any of you in the rest of the world, as the pound shrinks...... So how can I celebrate this fortnights theme? Well, in a foreign language I have no understanding of seems somehow entirely appropriate, and, by chance, I know of just the song. 

I love the Ukrainians. The band, that is, knowing not enough of the actual country or it's people to confer that upon necessarily all of them. I know it isn't the first time they have appeared on these pages, but I am sure they are worth and deserve a reprise. Actually from Leeds, and an offshoot of 80s indie stalwarts, the Wedding Present, that band so beloved of the iconic disc jockey John Peel. Perhaps initially as a joke, and for one of his radio sessions, the band had produced ' Ukrayinski Vystupy v Johna Peela' as a celebration of guitarist Pete Solowka's heritage, bringing in the talents of 'Legendary' Len Liggins, an unlikely russian scholar, on fiddle and stentorian vocal, and Roman Remeynes, possibly, say it out loud, a pseudonym, on mandolin. An unexpected cult success, this led to Solowka and Liggins setting up the band in it's own right, as the Ukrainians, eventually breaking loose from the Wedding Present mothership. Since then, with the core duo remaining constant, the band has continued to play and tour, issuing 5 studio albums, several live and various compilations in the intervening years, totally without chart success in the UK. Paradoxically, they have become literally huge in the Ukraine and in other parts of what was once the eastern bloc. The signature sound is of basso profundo vocal, backed with fiddle, mandolin and accordion, underpinned with thunderous bass and drums. Always both never and so very much more than a piss-take, their love of traditional slavic folk song is immense and theirs is a true folk tradition brought into a 21st century focus. Plus their love for a cracking cover version, with translated and transposed versions of songs by the Sex Pistols, the Smiths and the Velvet Underground in their repertoire from the start. Last year they also produced a terrific all covers outing A History of Rock Music in Ukrainian'. Here is what 'someone' over at recommended blog 'Cover Me Songs' thought of that, even if he got the number of bandmembers wrong. (There are currently and were then 6) And, should you fear this is all getting too far from our theme, what better way to return to the subject than this song, arguably an apt description of how and where it is all seeming to be heading over here. 

See if you recognise the tune below. It's political too!! G'luck the Yanks in your forthcoming. May the best woman win, say I.

Buy Polityka