Countdown No 9: Singing Smiths songs in Ukrainian


Sadly locked indoors this summer trying to work through ‘stuff’ I had my radio for company.  Jarvis Cocker seemed a good choice. A little bit different.  It shouldn’t be too predictable.  Except he kept reminding me – this is PRE-RECORDED.  Jarvis is not actually here.  Jarvis is out in that sunshine stuff outside doing sunshiney type of things.  And he kept saying this is PRE-RECORDED.  OK. OK.

I get the point – you’re out there and I’m stuck in here with this laptop and an empty screen.

And then some musical magic.

Ah, The Smiths I thought.  That’s great.  What difference does it make?  Except it’s not.

It’s The Smiths in Ukrainian. Yes! The Smiths in Ukrainian.

Now I was paying attention.  It’s record shop day and an ancient EP entitled Pisni iz The Smiths has been re-released.  Jarvis muttered something about The Ukrainians at the end.


“the world’s foremost Cossack punk-folk ensemble”

That pretty well sums it all up.  The Ukrainians were spawned as a love child of indies band The Wedding Present and John Peel in 1990 when the BBC Dj asked guitarist Peter Solowka to record some Ukrainian inspired material for his show.  Borrowing various people along the way they duly delivered a few songs that turned out to be very popular not only with John Peel but a much wider audience.  So they recorded an album.  And toured.  And another album and so on.  Their sound is a mixture of traditional East European – accordion, mandolin, trumpet with the aggression and humour of British punk.  Sometimes the songs are traditional adaptations, sometime their own material.  The consistent theme is have a good time!  Dare I say, The Pogues gone east.

I’ve gone through various Ukrainians covers through the year – Radioactivity by Kraftwerk, bit of Velvet Underground, but have come back to the Smiths and Batyar (aka Bigmouth Strikes Again).

And now I know how Joan of Arc felt
Now I know how Joan of Arc felt