The 60’s and 70’s saw the beginning of modern Russian pop and rock music, it all started with the wave of VIA’s (vocal-instrumental ensemble), a specific sort of music bands performing radio-friendly pop, rock and folk, composed by members of the Union of Composers, approved by censorship. This wave begun with Pojuschie Gitary and Pesnyary, popular VIA bands also included Tcvety and Zemlyane.
That period also saw individual pop stars such as Iosif Kobzon, Sofia Rotaru, Alla Pugacheva, Valery Leontiev, Yuri Antonov, many of them remain popular and active to this day. They were the mainstream of Soviet music media, headliners of festivals such as Song of the Year, Sopot, and Golden Orpheus. The year 1977 saw the establishment of Moskovsky Komsomolets hit parade, Russia’s first music chart.
VIA Singing Guitar
The term VIA represented a model under which the Soviet government was willing to permit domestic rock and pop music acts to develop. To be able to break through the state-owned Soviet media, a band needed to become an officially-recognized VIA. Each VIA had an artistic director who served as manager, producer, and also state-appointed censor. In some bands the artistic director was the band’s leading member and songwriter, while in others he played the role of an impresario.
Songs varied from pop ballads, dance disco and new wave to mainstream rock (although bands avoided the rock music label until the late 70’s, because rock was considered a bourgeois art and formally banned) (!). The typical VIA consisted of 6 to 10 band members, lead vocalists usually did not play an instrument, virtually every member of a VIA was a professional musician, with formal musical education.
VIA Charivni Guitar
The Soviet government had strict rules governing how members of a VIA were to behave on stage and conduct themselves in public. Performers were only allowed to wear suits, folks costumes, or military uniforms. Movements around the stage was discouraged and anything outside of the conservative norm, such as long hair, tattoos, leather jackets, or metallic accessories were strictly forbidden. Due to state censorship, the lyrics of VIAs were family-friendly, typical topics were universal emotions like love, joy, and nostalgia, or idealized vignettes from usual daily life.
VIA song recordings were done by Melodiya, the State owned record company, and the concerts/performances were organized by professional associations such as Soyuzkontsert (Union Concerts), Moskontsert (Moscow Concerts), Lenkonsert (Leningrad Concerts), Roskontsert (Russian Concerts), along with regional groups.
Let’s go to our artist:
Alla Pugacheva & Kristina Orbakaitе
Alla Borisovna Pugacheva (April 15, 1949) started performing when she still was at junior school. In 1965, she composed and recorded The Robot, her first song for the national radio. After high school, Pugacheva continued education in Moscow State Music College, at the department of conducting and choir singing. Later, in 1981 she also got a degree in theatre directing at the (arrant) State Theatre Art College.
Alla Pugacheva started a professional singing career in the early 70’s, as a leading singer of VIA’s Funny Guys, but real recognition only came when she won the Grand Prix of the Golden Orpheus song contest with the song Harlequin in 1975.
Afterwards, she went to work in what would be the turning point of its career: the musical film The Woman Who Sings, in 1977. In co-op with the band Rhythm, she played the leading lady, a pop singer who sacrifices her personal life for her career.
The soundtrack, which was co-written by her, included a myriad of pop songs, the Soviet audience, regarding the film as autobiographical, brought the OST to reach record audience of the year in 1979, as it was bought by 55 million people! (phew)
Though for many she grew to represent the government-pop culture that was forced upon the people, her popularity skyrocketed, and she released many albums throughout the decades. Her contributions to Russian music were recognized when she was bestowed the title of People’s Artist of the U.S.S.R. in 1991. She enjoys an iconic status across the former Soviet Union and has overshadowed long time rival Sofia Rotaru as the most successful Soviet performer in terms of record sales and popularity. Her last album was released in 2008 and lately Pugacheva are the main judge on Factor A, Russia’s version of the British X-Factor television series.
Let’s go to our album:
Mirror of the Soul was Alla Pugacheva’s first studio album, published in the Soviet Union in May 1978, as a double album, and later re-released in two parts. The Lp includes songs performed by her, recorded in 1975/1977 primarily composed by (master) Alexander Zatsepin. It became one of the most sold in the USSR in late 70’s early 80’s. By 1983, it had sold 7,753,500 copies, and with a general circulation exceeding 60 reissues, the album approached the terrific mark of 10 million copies!
A collection of singles, which had previously appeared in the film or in separate publications, it firmly stands as a kaleidoscope of genres, ranging from kitschy hits, funk-rock, orchestral ballads, prog synths, art pop, funny marches and much more from a devilishly talented singer and composer, prepare yourself for Alla’s realms.
The ‘IM’ highlights are: Приезжай (Come) and Мы Не Любим Друг Друга (We Do Not Like Each Other). хорошая поездка!
A1 Бубен Шамана (Tambourine Shaman) / Centerline of The Skies OST
A2 Верю В Тебя (I Believe in You) / Basketball OST
A3 Сонет Шекспира (Shakespeare’s Sonnet)
B1 Приезжай (Come)
B2 Не Отрекаются Любя (Do Not Deny Loving)
B3 Песенка Про Меня (Song About Me)
B4 Женщина, Которая Поет (The Woman Who Sings)
C1 Все Могут Короли (Kings Can Do Everything)
C2 Куда Уходит Детство (Where Does Childhood?) / Fantasy Vesnuhina OST
C3 Волшебник-Недоучка (Wizard-Dropout) / Brave Chirac OST
C4 Полно Вокруг Мудрецов (Fully Sages Around) / Brave Chirac OST
D1 Мы Не Любим Друг Друга (We Do Not Like Each Other) / Cook & Singer OST
D2 Если И Долго Мучиться (If You Long To Suffer) / Cook & Singer OST
D3 До Свиданья, Лето (Goodbye, Summer) / Centerline of The Skies OST
D4 Любовь Одна Виновата (Love One to Blame) / Centerline of The Skies OST
D5 Найди Себе Друга (Find a Friend) / Fantasy Vesnuhina OST
Conductor: V. Terletsky (B2), A. Avilov (A2, A3, B1, B3, B4), V. Kleynot (A1, C1 to D5)
Ensemble: VIA B. Kleynota (A1, C1 to D5), Rhythm (A2, A3, B1, B3, B4)
Music: Alexander Zatsepin (A1, A2, B3, C2 to D5), Boris Gorbonos (A3, B1, B4), Boris Richkov (C1), Leonid Garin (B4), Mark Minkov (B2)
Lyrics: William Shakespeare (A3), Boris Gorbonos (B1), V. Tushnova (B2), Kaisyn Guliyev (B4), Leonid Derbenyov (A1, B3, C1 to D5), Onegin Gadzhikasimov (A2)
- Arrangements: Alexander Zatsepin (except B2 and C1)
- Photographer: Vyacheslav Maneshina
- Supervised: A. Kachalina
Мелодия – 33 С 60-09799-802
Vasilissa the Beautiful by Ivan Bilibin