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Pesniary (Pesnyary) - Pesniary CD (album) cover


Pesniary (Pesnyary)

Prog Folk

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Errors & Omissions Team
4 stars First PESNIARY album was extremely popular in the former USSR. Sold in millions of copies, it made the band a household name. Back then, in the beginning of the 70s, even people whose interests are far from music owned this LP. Each song still is a part of PESNIARY's gold fund.

When ''Pesnyary (I)'' saw the light of day, it became clear that absolutely unique band with instantly recognisable sound was born. There is no other band like PESNIARY in the whole history of world's rock music! I must say in 1971 rock in Soviet Union was in an embrionic state and, additionally, almost forbidden (even the term 'rock group' was not used, legal bands, and PESNIARY in their number, were called 'vocal-instrumental ensembles'). Rock music in Soviet Union, in general, stood in the underground until the mid 80's. First of all PESNIARY are musicians, they were never rock rebels and, due to the work with Byelorussian folklore, they were, in comparison to underground rock bands, under lesser pressure of Soviet ideological machine (though the censorship took place from time to time).

All key points of PESNIARY's style are already evident on their first album, completely sung in Byelorussian language: memorable tunes, several lead singers with distinctive voices, unique multi- vocal harmonies, the ability to express wide spectrum of emotions, saving at the same time most delicate nuances. Muliavin's adaptations of Byelorussian folk songs are rather reinventions, in many cases he did not care of authentity, the main goal was to keep the songs' spirit. Clever arrangements deserve a special mention - never soloing for soloing, everything works to the idea of performed song.

In addition to standard rock instruments (electric and acoustic guitars, organ, bass, drums) on their first album PESNYARY used violin, flute, trumpet and hurdy gurdy. Despite obviuos 70's feel songs sound fresh even now. Sound producer of Melodiya label Alexander Shtilman made a great job here (keep in mind that Melodiya did not have then the best possible equipment and to reach desired sound producers had to be extremely inventive). He also produced ''Pesnyary II'' and later, in 1985, another great band's album ''For the Whole of the War''.

The opening ballad Ty mne vesnoyu prisnilas' (You Have Dreamed Me In The Spring) shows most of PESNIARY's trademarks. Soft melody with some almost dramatic culmination in the end, beautiful choir, short, but tasteful violin and guitar solos.

V pole verba, another folk song, starts with acapella singing, then follow Muliavin's dramatic voice and lots of contrasts between softer and heavier parts.

Oy, rano na Ivana. Again folk song, one of the best Muliavin's arrangements. Incredible vocal harmonies, powerful sound. Unbelievable!

Rushniki, written by N. Petrenko and V. Verba, as well as three folk songs, Kosil Yas' konyushinu, Skripyat moi lapti and Poydem vdol' ulicy, are uptempo rockers with catchy melodies.

Aleksandrina. One of the most beautiful songs ever composed by Vladimir Muliavin (lyrics by Petrus Brovka, famous Byelorussian poet). It is the first song with lead vocals of Leonid Bortkevich, who, then absolutely unknown, was invited by Vladimir Muliavin to join the band in 1970, not long before recording sessions. Later many PESNIARY's hits will be associated with unique voice of Bortkevich, but ''Aleksandrina'' will stay 'the first child'. Guitar solo in ''Aleksandrina'' is unforgettable.

Fast and powerful Belarus closes one of the best albums ever made in the USSR.

It's a shame, PESNIARY classic albums (except for ''Gusliar'') have not been released on CD yet. Though all songs from the first LP can be found on numerous CD-compilations, you only need to know which one to choose to get original versions. Not an easy task, because CD-reissues of PESNIARY catalogue are a complete mess, many compilations contain remakes performed by later line-ups and in different arrangements, but such information is missing in release details.

A masterpiece, but not much prog here. 4 stars.

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Posted Tuesday, August 5, 2008 | Review Permalink

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