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The Ukrainians: IstoriyaIstoriya (2004)
Reviewer Rating: 3.5
Contributed by: JiveSideJiveSide
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The Velvet Underground’s “Venus in Furs” (“Chekannya”) has never sounded as beautiful as it does in the Ukrainian tongue, and The Smith’s classic “The Queen is Dead” (“Koroleva Ne Pomerla”) is dark and fresh with mandolin’s dancing over the minimalist melody. Even The Clash and The Sex Pistols receive an Eastern European makeover with fabulously strange results that sound like a soviet version of The Pogues, not quite as fun, but certainly interesting. Sung almost entirely in Ukrainian, Istoriya is a greatest hits compilation from the Ukrainians, a British band, ironically, that showcases twenty songs from their catalogue of traditional folk music twisted around a punk aesthetic, once again think The Pogues but with a darker tone. Aside from the unique cover songs chosen for credibility and as a reference for the listener to further understand what this music is, where it came from, and why these musicians came together and stayed together to play it, the original material is wonderfully performed and arranged with lots of instruments playing and voices singing (in Ukrainian!), in fact one might miss the cover songs amidst the original material for what this band does is very consistent, not to mention, once again, the language may as well be gibberish to non-Ukrainian speakers, and it’s hard to tell one song from the other at first or fifth listen. But sit with this album and you’ll be singing right along with whatever words aren’t that hard to pronounce.
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