Page 1 of 1

2008 - week 8, from 23 Feb - Russia

PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 2:19 pm
by Charlie
Seq - Artist - Song Title - Album - Country - Label - Cat no

1 - Frank Crumit - Abdul Abulbul Amir - A Gay Caballero - USA - Naxos Nostalgia - 8.120502

2 - Ersatzmusika - And Why? - Voice Letter - Russia - Asphalt Tango - CD-STR 1407

3 - Albina, Olga & Fedora - The White Night - Summer is Coming - Siberia/Russia - Nihon Koukin Kyoukia - NKK002

4 - Zulya - Beyond the Horizon - Elusive - Russia/Australia - Westpark - 87101

5 - Iva Nova - Dream of a Farmer - Chemodan - Russia - Hoba - GEO 011 CD

6 - Snegopady - Kontrabandisti - BAR MOSCOW - Russia - Nascente - NSBARCD011

7 - Volga - Pomol - Pomol - Russia - Manas - MR 7016


Another in the series of occasional programmes linked to a national focus on the whole of the World Service, this week’s show is all-Russian.

Frank Crumit

The first Russian reference I can remember hearing in a song was to Count Ivan Skavinsky Skavar, challenged to a duel by a Persian emir in the song ‘Abdul Abulbul Amir’. Often played on Children’s Favourites on the BBC Light Programme in the 1950s, Frank Crumit’s version was recorded in April, 1927, and originally released as the B-side of ‘Frankie and Johnny’. Both are among the 18 tracks on the compilation of his most popular songs, A Gay Caballero. ‘Abdul Abulbul Amir’ was written in 1890 by an Irishman, Percy French. There was a time when I knew the whole thing off-by-heart, and I particularly liked the bit about Ivan wearing ‘his most truculent sneer’.


As previously reported, Ersatzmusika is a group of Russian émigrés based in Berlin, and their album Voice Letter gets better with repeated plays. ‘And Why?’ is the third track I’ve played on the radio, a good score these days.

Kilisakh [Albina, second left; Olga, second right]

Three of the tracks in this programme are by artists I discovered on a trip to Siberia in 2004, as one of ten international jurors on a panel at the Sayan Ring Festival of Russian Folk Music. The winners were Kilisakh, a group from a music college in northern Siberia whose teacher Albina had recently recorded an album with one of her star pupils Olga, and a third singer Fedora. ‘The White Night’ features just Olga and Albina.


Zulya is a singer originally from the autonomous republic of Tatar, who now lives in Australia. She was performing outside the Sayan Ring competition, and was among the assorted musicians with whom I travelled back to Moscow, by coach and plane. I played a track from her album Elusive on the radio soon afterwards but then put it away on the shelf, and did not return to it until forum contributor Judith mentioned that in searching for more information about Zulya’s song ‘Beyond the Horizon’ she had discovered this forum. Listening again, I belatedly agree that the song is exceptional and plan to request it for my next world music compilation.

Iva Nova

Iva Nova is a group of lively female punks from St Petersburg, whom I wrote about when playing this same song ‘Dream of a Farmer’ in the show broadcast on 1 Dec 2007.

Snegopardy is among the groups included in the double-CD compilation Bar Moscow, which offers no sleeve note of any kind to help identify who is who. A search on Google similarly comes up with nothing at all. Can anybody help out?


Volga is the third group first encountered at that Sayan Ring Festival, an arresting electronica group that performed after the competition was over. Their new album Pomol is not as consistent as its predecessor, Three Fields, but the title track showcases what they are good at, with the backroom boys providing a bed of intriguing but rhythmic electronic noises to support their adventurous lead singer Anjela Manukjan.


PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2008 12:28 pm
by Charlie

1. The Russian co-compiler of Bar Moscow

Subject: Snegopady

Megapolis was a very influential indie-guitar band from Moscow, they've
started in the early nineties and been pretty successful.

At some point the leader Oleg Nesterov was busy creating SNEGIRI (an indie-label we've licensed so much stuff from, for Bar Moscow) and apparently their guitarist went nuts and left the band and some years later started Snegopady.

Oleg signed the new band, produced their both albums, and even plays rhythm-guitar live with them.


2. Rodger French, Accra, Ghana

Re: "Dream of a Farmer" by Iva Nova


This is terrific music. Where can I get this album? Thanks.

Rodger French


3. martha furman kojro, Phelps County, missouri, USA

Dear Charlie,

That "Bar Moscow" piece that you played sounded like the Russian version of that awful Polish poet Bogdan Loebl. Not only is it music one could listen to when in a bar, it sounds like it was recorded in one! And Snegopady sounds drunk!! Otherwise, another wonderful 26 minutes and 30 seconds of touching, interesting, uplifting, enlightening, engaging and good music! Love the show!

Tunefully Yours,

Martha Furman Kojro (pronounced coy-row)


4. george goodall, sliema, malta

Thanks charlie.

Apart from the recent plant/krauss album I've bought zilch for a long time. The Russian selection had me on amazon, double quick. gg


5. Iain Scott, Scotland

I also always thought it was called "Ivan Skevinski Skavaar", in fact, I was sure it was! So it goes.


CG reply

If this transcription is correct, we are each half-right and half-wrong, Iain.
On the other hand, when Frank Crumit wrote a sequel, it was titled "Minnie Skavinsky Skavar".

"Abdul Abulbul Amir'
Percy French, 1877

The sons of the prophet were hardy and bold,
And quite unaccustomed to fear,
But the bravest of these was a man, I am told
Named Abdul Abulbul Amir.

This son of the desert, in battle aroused,
Could spit twenty men on his spear.
A terrible creature, both sober and soused
Was Abdul Abulbul Amir.

When they needed a man to encourage the van,
Or to harass the foe from the rear,
Or to storm a redoubt, they had only to shout
For Abdul Abulbul Amir.

There are heroes aplenty and men known to fame
In the troops that were led by the Czar;
But the bravest of these was a man by the name
Of Ivan Skavinsky Skivar.

He could imitate Irving, play Euchre and pool
And perform on the Spanish Guitar.
In fact, quite the cream of the Muscovite team
Was Ivan Skavinsky Skivar.

The ladies all loved him, his rivals were few;
He could drink them all under the bar.
As gallant or tank, there was no one to rank
With Ivan Skavinsky Skivar.

One day this bold Russian had shouldered his gun
And donned his most truculent sneer
Downtown he did go, where he trod on the toe
Of Abdul Abulbul Amir

"Young man," quoth Bulbul, "has life grown so dull,
That you're anxious to end your career?
Vile infidel! Know, you have trod on the toe
Of Abdul Abulbul Amir."

"So take your last look at the sunshine and brook
And send your regrets to the Czar;
By this I imply you are going to die,
Mr. Ivan Skavinsky Skivar."

Quoth Ivan, "My friend, your remarks, in the end,
Will avail you but little, I fear,
For you ne'er will survive to repeat them alive,
Mr. Abdul Abulbul Amir!"

Then this bold mameluke drew his trusty chibouque
With a cry of "Allah Akbar!"
And with murderous intent, he ferociously went
For Ivan Skavinsky Skivar.

They parried and thrust and they side-stepped and cussed
'Till their blood would have filled a great pot.
The philologist blokes, who seldom crack jokes,
Say that hash was first made on that spot.

They fought all that night, 'neath the pale yellow moon;
The din, it was heard from afar;
And great multitudes came, so great was the fame
of Abdul and Ivan Skivar.

As Abdul's long knife was extracting the life -
In fact, he was shouting "Huzzah!" - -
He felt himself struck by that wily Kalmuck,
Count Ivan Skavinsky Skivar.

The sultan drove by in his red-breasted fly,
Expecting the victor to cheer;
But he only drew nigh to hear the last sigh
Of Abdul Abulbul Amir.

Czar Petrovich, too, in his spectacles blue
Rode up in his new crested car.
He arrived just in time to exchange a last line
With Ivan Skavinsky Skivar.

A loud-sounding splash from the Danube was heard
Resounding o'er meadows afar;
It came from the sack fitting close to the back
Of Ivan Skavinsky Skovar.

There's a tomb rises up where the blue Danube flows;
Engraved there in characters clear;
"Ah stranger, when passing, please pray for the soul
Of Abdul Abulbul Amir."

A Muscovite maiden her lone vigil keeps,
'Neath the light of the pale polar star;
And the name that she murmurs as oft as she weeps
Is Ivan Skavinsky Skivar.


6. Ed Peveler

I was wondering whether there was anyway I could get hold of the Albina, Olga and Fedora "Summer is Coming" CD, as a quick search of the internet seems to show it is pretty elusive. Any help much appreciated




CG reply:

If you do a search in the engine on the home page ('Albina' as artist name is enough), you'll get the link to the US mail order firm that supplies the album

Happy hunting



7. alastair robertson, pitlochry

greatly enjoyed recent russia show, horrible naxos transfer however on crumit.

lets have more Iva Nova - really intriguing stuff.

points up the paucity of our domestic dross.


CG reply:

Can anybody recommend a better quality CD version of 'Abdul..'?


8. email from Dave Smith, Manchester

I have tried to buy some of the music featured in the last programme but a search on the internet has produced nothing. Perhaps you should only play music on your programme that can be purchased. As well as giving us the track details (CD, label, cat no etc) tell us HOW/WHERE TO BUY IT!


CG reply

I can't give such details on air, Dave, because suppliers vary around the world. And I am wary of restricting myself to playing only easy-to-find records. That doesn't seem fair to the talented musicians who have not been signed to companies with international distribution. In any case, most of the records in this week's show can be found online.

When the playlists are posted on the home page, there are details of website addresses of either the record labels or mail order suppliers. We have fallen a bit behind recently, but if you try the search engine on the home page you'll discover that several of the tracks from this week's programme have been played before, and their details are shown (with thanks to Alan Finkel for the research).


9. Steven Goddard, West Grove, PA USA

Because I cannot listen to your program at 1:30a-2:00a, I record it on a dvd disc. When I played back your broadcast of 2-24-2008 containing Abdul Abulbul Amir to my wife, she started singing along with it, to my great surprise. She remembers it from her college days many decades ago! She quickly found the words+music in Intercollegiate Outing Club Association's The New Song Fest, edited by Dick and Beth Best, Crown Publishers, Inc., pp.56-57, 1948-1959.

Thank you!


10. r.allibone, tamworth, staffordshire, england

thank you for tale of abdul and ivan. but when do our formative years end ? i was about 20 when i heard some celebrating students singing it. a gory tale celebrating savagery but such a catchy tune and some really clever lines. unfortunately frank's version i feel just a little too fast. and is over too quick. when it comes to songs with narrative how about 'delia's gone'?


11. Peter Dean, Brussels, Belgium

I enjoyed re-hearing Ivan Skavinsky Kavar and urge you to play more of Frank Crumit occasionally - of course his version of Frankie and Johnny, which is a classic, and perhaps the Song of the Prune.

Many thanks for your programme. I listen to it on sleepless nights and it always does the trick. (Seriously, but I also catch up via the internet).



Re: emails

PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2008 2:41 pm
by pirkko
Charlie wrote:-----------------------
From: "Yuriy Gurzhy"

Subject: Snegopady

That's about all I know, mate


There's a lof of information about Snegopady (The Snowfalls) on the website, but none of it is in English.

I used the press release of their 2004 album "Stervyatniki i flamingo" (Vultures and Flamingo) where the song "Kontrabandisty" (The Smugglers) comes from. According to it, the line up is:
Yuri Matsenov (ex-Megapolis) - vocals, guitar
Alexander Kunitsyn (ex-Krematorii) - bass
Mikhail Saushev (ex-Kurazh) - keyboards
on drums on this album - Alexander Zinger.

PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 11:15 pm
by NormanD
Did you know that Abdul came back? The Gay Caballero also recorded The Return Of AAA:
"...out of the grave / In need of a shave / stood Abdul Abulbul Amir...."

Also, AAA also had a grandson, as Frank sings: The Grandson Of AAA

Milk it, baby, milk it!

Re: 2008 - week 8, from 23 Feb - Russia

PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 1:02 am
by judith
Charlie wrote: Listening again, I belatedly agree that the song is exceptional and plan to request it for my next world music compilation.

Oh, that's so nice to read here.

PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 2:03 am
by uiwangmike
normand wrote:
Milk it, baby, milk it!

Frank Crumit did much better out of Abdul than its composer, Percy French, who sold it to a publisher for a fiver. He did have more financial success from his later compositions, which continue to keep Irish tenors in material.

Re: emails

PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2008 1:12 pm
by Charlie
Rodger French wrote: "Dream of a Farmer" by Iva Nova.
This is terrific music. Where can I get this album?

Use the 'shop' menu tab at their website: