Last Saturday I waded through one of those unending subreddit threads — if you could only listen to 4 albums from the entire 90s decade, what would you choose? Discovered a lot of things I hadn’t heard of before. Here are my four: Bjork — Debut, Paul Van Dyk — Seven Ways, Patti Rothberg — Between the 1 and 9, Kristin Hersh — Hips and Makers. I could also have added Dead Dog’s Eyeball by Kathy McCarty, something by Stereolab, Throwing Muses‘ University, a Suzanne Vega album (either 99.9 or Nine Objects of Desire), one by Praga Khan (either Pragamatic or Twentyfirstcenturyskin). I also would have added these 90s Russian language albums which are incredible: Mummiy Troll’s Morskaya, Linda‘s Vorona, Zemfira’s Prosti Menya Moya Lyubov’ [Forgive Me, My Love], Agata Kristi‘s Heroin O (Remixed) (trust me on this!)
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I was poring over old albums from the 1980s and 1990s and found this gem by an early rock Russian group called Nautilus Pompilius (Наутилус Помпилиус). I thought the album came from the 1990s, but actually it came from the mid-1980s. The album, Князь Тишины — Knyaz’ Tishiny (Prince of Silence) named after a Hungarian poet. I’m linking to a live performance below — and it’s great and rough, but really you have to listen to the studio album — it’s full of all kinds of eerie and otherworldly synthpop effects. In my capsule review, I wrote Lovely 80s Russian pop with a timeless charm. Despite the rock and roll feel, this album floats between styles and genres — from slow jazz to light synthpop to melancholy love ballad. There’s also a lovely saxophone. Looking up the lyrics, I see cool rebellion (both political and personal). This band was led by Vyacheslav Butusov and poet Ilya Kormiltsev (who later died a tragic death) and is identified with “Ural Rock Music” — as well as Chair, Agatha Kristiy (whom I love!)
I just recently got around to reading the lyrics (mainly translated). The lyrics for this one are pretty wild (which I copied below).
A look from Screen
She read the world as a novel,
But it turned out to be a novella.
The neighbors from her house
Are guys with pimply conscience.
A walk in the park without a dog
May cost you too much.
Mother memorizes by heart the morgue phone number
When she’s not at home for too long.
Father, coming home, does not find the door
And spits into the prepared dinner.
She is older than mother,
He must become her husband.
The first experience of fighting against sweaty hands
Always comes too early.
Love is just a face on the wall,
Love is a look from the screen.
Alain Delon speaks French, (1)
Alain Delon speaks French.
Alain Delon, Alain Delon does not drink cologne (2).
Alain Delon, Alain Delon drinks double bourbon.
Alain Delon speaks French.
Guys can try their best in the apartments of their female friends,
She is there sometimes, too,
But this does not give her a damn thing,
Except for everyday morning dramas.
But at home there’s a completely different movie:
She looks into his eyes,
And fantasies enter the bosom of love
Stronger than all those who would meet her.
1.French actor Alain Delon, known for his good-looking, was very popular among Soviet women. He was a household name, the phrase “handsome like Alain Delon” was common. Like BTS for k-pop fans today.
2.This would probably sound weird, but due to Gorbachev’s anti-alcohol campaign, drinking cologne was quite common in 80’s Soviet Union. For example, one of the most popular cologne brand was “???????” (“Troynoy”, Tripple), which was originally mentioned in the lyrics (but Vyacheslav Butusov refused to sing it).
I love that chorus (“Alan Delon speaks French….”). Amazingly, the translator adds that “This song is a cover version of 1983 British song “Robert De Niro’s Waiting by Bananarama” although the lyrics are much darker.” Wait, what? I found the Banarama song on Youtube, and it’s an homage, not a cover version, but I also love that song (and the video of the song!)
SIMLISH: A new musical genre — songs sung in the nonsense language of videogames –often by the original performers. How delightful. Here’s a youtube playlist. Here’s a fandom wiki page that lists the songs along with the ….lyrics!?
Here’s a fun sing-a-long vid of the 2020 Eurovision competitors from their bedrooms (after Eurovision 2020 was cancelled). They’re singing the 1997 song that won Eurovision — the original singer appears at the end. Kind of a sentimental song, but it grows on you. (Only 103 days before the Eurovision finals, by the way).
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