An album from Russia's greatest rock musician is long overdue, and this collection is more than worthwhile. Like some American singer/songwriters, Grebenshikov has found himself coming closer and closer to roots music over the years, and these songs are very much the product of that. Whether putting his mark on the traditional song "My Little Loom" or writing an ode to his changing homeland with "Russian Nirvana," he's masterful. The songs themselves (with lyrics provided in four languages) are gems, the product of mature thought and frequently poetic, although the images, which seem obscure to Westernerners, probably resonate with Russians. But the beauty is best-illustrated by the settings, usually stripped-down, but with just the right touches to set off the voice and words, even if it takes some strange left turns, like the pseudo-'50s arrangement of "Gertruda." Accordion is prevalent, of course, but the oboe that courses through "Nikita of Riazan" gives an aching tone to the song. He's often compared to Dylan and Springsteen, which is unfair; the traditions are utterly different. Only the quality of the writing and performing is comparable - listen to the gentle "Dubrovsky" and you'll be convinced. Grebenshikov is world class.
Boris Grebenshikov became the “Darling of Glasnost” during the post-cold war Soviet Rock boom in the USA. “Like many other artists previously branded as antisovetchiki,” music critic David Kissinger wrote in 1989, “Grebenshikov and his band mates are now being bear-hugged by a Soviet leadership determined to project a new image to the world.” In fact, he was the first Russian rock artist to record in the West. Today, he can still sell out any stadium in Russia.
Russia’s greatest living songwriter spends one month every year in a Tibetan monastery. But his independent thinking has not always served his career well. Grebenshikov and his group Akvarium (Aquarium) blasted onto the Leningrad rock scene in 1973, when there were very few “official” groups in the Soviet Union. The poet laureate of Russian rock refused to submit his contemplative songs to the government’s censorship committees. When Akvarium could not get sanctioned gigs, they played in underground venues, basements, back alley bars, and through it all they built up one of the most loyal fan bases of any Russian act.
Although Boris still performs and records with Akvarium, since 1984 he has periodically taken some time to do solo albums, including the US-released Radio Silence in 1989, when the words of the day were glasnost and perestroika. Some of his most interesting musical endeavors have resulted from these personal recordings, where Boris—who is often compared to Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen—is able to explore the roots of his songwriting and Russian heritage. As a result of these releases, Boris has today come to symbolize the best of Russian music, with books of his poetry and lyrics becoming bestsellers and each album a huge success both critically and popularly.
In contrast to other albums Boris has released outside his homeland, Russian Songwriter treats the listener to a wider overview of the Russian songwriter style. The repertoire ranges from traditional Russian music to songs by writers who influenced his generation, such as Bulat Okujava and Alexander Vertinsky. In these songwriter-centric pieces, Boris combines words and music to create a sonic atmosphere that is undeniably beautiful and unmistakably Russian. The liner notes contain lyrics in four languages and the repertoire is real Russian substance, not watered-down for commercial value.
|1||My Little Loom • Станочек||3:25|
|2||Gertruda • Гертруда||4:12|
|3||Nikita Of Riazan • Никита Рязанский||2:40|
|4||China • Китай||1:48|
|5||Three Sisters • Три Сестры||4:34|
|6||Little Swallow • Ласточка||3:51|
|7||My Lady (Gosudaryna) • Государыня||3:05|
|8||Fate's Rusty Pail • Ржавый Жбан Судьбы||2:53|
|9||Vanka Morozov • Ванька Морозов||2:06|
|10||The Fastest Plane On Earth • Самый Быстрый Самолет||2:51|
|11||Tarusa • Таруса||3:40|
|12||Dubrovsky • Дубровский||4:06|
|13||The Mares Of Reckless Abandon • Кони Беспредела||6:02|
|14||Garcon Number 2 • Гарсон # 2||4:12|
|15||Russian Nirvana • Русская Нирвана||3:11|
Boris Grebenshikov - Russian Songwriter • A Collection From Boris Grebenshikov
(256 kbps, cover art included)