A mix-bag of styles and emotions
John Herring | Medicine Hat, Alberta | 03/15/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Well, what can I say? Out of 15 tracks, "Vorony" has 11 songs that I listen to all the time, one song that I listen to occasionally, and 3 that I just detest! However, the 11 that I love override the other 4 mediocre tracks on this album.
The real gems are "Chi Znayesh Ti?" (Do You Know?) and "Shche Raz" (Once Again), patriotic originals penned by "The Ukrainians". The war-rally "Shche Raz" calls on all Ukrainians to never forget their language and motherland. "Chi Znayesh Ti" is about a village in Ukraine where one of the band members' family is from. Sometime in the past, most likely before, during, or after World War II, the NKVD (Stalin's KGB) rounded up the village's inhabitants and shipped them off to Siberia. This song, I believe, is now quite topical in Ukraine with the discovery in July (2002) of the mass gave in the Zhovkva Monastery, 30 kilometres west of Lviv, Ukraine. The monastery was the district headquarters of the NKVD during the early 1950's, where "counterrevolutionnaries" (such as 6 year-olds and a four-month fetus) were executed and buried naked in the cellar of the monk's quarters.
"Nadia Pishla" (Nadia Went Away) can be seen 3 different ways. It could be about a girl named Nadia (Hope) contracting a disease in the middle of winter, knocking on death's door, then suddenly recovering in the summer. It could be about the changing seasons; the movement between winter and summer. Finally, the explanation I prefer, it could be about Ukraine going through the dark night of Communism and finally emerging as an independent country.
"Rospryahaite [khloptsi koni]" (Unharness Your Horses, Boys!) is a traditional Ukrainian song about the Cossacks riding off into the empty southern Ukrainian steppe of the late 17th and early 18th centuries. This version by "The Ukrainians" is the best one I've heard so far.
The other 7 of my "Oceans' 11" are originals and covers of other rock songs. "Chekannya" is a gentle cover of the Velvet Undrground's "Venus In Furs" with some of the lyrics changed. "Koroleva Ne Pomerla" is a cover of Morrissey & The Smiths' "The Queen Is Dead".
A WARNING: "Koroleva Ne Pomerla" on this CD has been edited. It is 44 seconds shorter than the one recorded on the "Pisni Iz 'The Smiths' EP". If you want only "Koroleva" on this CD, EITHER BUY:
1.) the "Pisni Iz 'The Smiths' EP", which is almost impossible to find, OR
2.) "Kultura with 'Pisni Iz "The Smiths" EP'", which is somewhat easier to find.
To sum up:
1.) "Vorony" (Crows)
2.) "Khlib" (Bread)
3.) "Na Skriptsi Hrayu" (I Play The Violin)
4.) "Chi Znayesh Ti"
5.) "Shche Raz"
6.) "Nadia Pishla"
8.) "Durak" (Madman)
9.) "Sertsem I Dusheyu" (With Heart And Soul)
10.) "De Ye Moya Mila?" (Have You Seen My Loved One?)
One "Occasional" -- "Koroleva Ne Pomerla"
1.) "Dvi Lebidky" (Two Swans)
2.) "Teper Mi Hovorymo" (Now We're Talking)
3.) "Doroha" (The Road)"