Hi Fi

Seriously, what’s the point of a blog unless it’s to look at things, learn, see perspectives? The CCR evenings were about that whole era but it wasn’t just Americana, it was part of our culture too.

Don’t know why but I was looking the other direction at Russia last evening and thinking it would be nice to get their new, post-Soviet culture across in a more personal way but it was going to take Cyrillic to get to the real stuff, plus my Russian keyboard no longer works, so I googled and there was my own post from 2016, plus they were the Russian language versions.

‘Pioneer’ is not a song I’d inflict on you for many reasons – it was that type of 90s disco music with a Russian twist, much of it was twee and highly contrived, down to the wooden dancing – just as we were in the late 60s/early 70s, so this was written, recorded and sung by young people in the emerging yoof culture, under the gaze of new Russian ‘businessmen’.

Then I saw this version, with a commemoration going on in Red Square, the song nothing to do with it, actually it was mocking the Pioneers who were the scouts-guides-Stalin youth.  In the previous post, I wrote:

The red caps and scarfs are interesting because I was present in 1989 in St Malo in Brittany during one of their festivals and they were wearing similar.

They used to march up and down Lenin Square in our town and at the former state summer camp by the Volga, the high point of many people’s year, not unlike Butlin’s.

I still recall being woken at some ungodly hour by the tannoys throughout the campsite telling everyone to get up and turn out for the calisthenics, breakfast would then be served in the giant dining hall in the shape of a sputnik.

But now it was semi-voluntary.  The old battleaxe teaching still went on though.  I have no idea what they’re reenacting in the footage but it’s very much how things were in my first couple of years there:

The repeated line: “Pioneer, vsegda gatov,” means “Pioneer, always ready,” the movement’s motto, like the Scouts’ “be prepared”.

Kids are kids the world over and I’d say, through them, you get to the heart of a country much more quickly. One was telling me about getting a ‘5’, not a ‘4’ and was proud of it – couldn’t see what she was proud of getting 5 out of ten, except it wasn’t out of ten.

I learnt fast and was taken here, there and everywhere. Once we came around a corner and there was a crowd with huge glass jars – it was all to do with someone selling them lids or putting lids on – that had disappeared a year later.

The further east you go in Russia, the more eastern is the culture, not unlike Vienna and those who’ve spent time in Vienna can feel it in the atmosphere and cuisine … or could in the 90s.  So it’s no surprise that the Arab world is featured in a Golden Age sort of way, although the music is 90s disco:

I mentioned tweeness – it was of the sort at Eurovision, which Wogan poked fun at but they took it very, very seriously and the closer you got to Moscow, the more contrived, gaudy and ‘Eurovisionee’ it got. Hi Fi were part of that culture, the new, emerging, bad kids culture, desperately being as disrespectful as they dared – the culmination of that was probably TaTu and Pussy Riot many years down the track, best not to even mention those.

These were the early days, before nightclubs had kids going to them – at least it was the very start of that:

There were no protections, I heard some horrific tales of people gone wrong, it was a tough land to grow up in and they grew up tough, on the whole. The song below is about a street kid, he’d run away, seeks warmth in fires lit by the homeless, you can imagine the rest – Hi Fi had a social conscience, they’d been brought up well, they couldn’t quite throw off the old ways – that came later with the toxic western and Russian mix – worst of both. I heard some say that there was much to be said about the way the soviet times politburo kept the scummy parts of the west out of the land – go back to that Pioneer song and you see the old Russia there.

Below, a tale of tragedy is set to a disco choreography – uh huh, that was Russia in the late 90s. There’s a line in there: ‘Moi angel khranit,’ meaning, roughly, ‘My angel keeps, preserves, maybe protects,’ and that’s interesting in a nouveau pop punk group, plus the use of accordion at the end:

The young lady’s name is, for those interested, Oksana Oleshko, now 44. Just why they call her Ksusha beats me, as that’s a diminutive for Ksenia. Tragic tale with her too, though she seems to be ok these days, with three fine children, taller than her now.

6 comments for “Hi Fi

  1. Andy5759
    January 19, 2020 at 11:48

    Interesting article. Your mention of the culture changing as you move to the East reminded me of a song which I think I’ve put here before. Or maybe picked up from here.


    I downloaded this song years ago and it’s still one of my regular listens.

  2. Mark Matis
    January 19, 2020 at 12:53

    But always remember:

    The gulags paid living wages!!!

    • January 19, 2020 at 17:10

      Right, Siberia for you with that crack!

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