Baba Yaga / Secret Combination
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Baba Yaga
Secret Combination
Fono, Hungary

cd cover Baba Yaga is a witch from the Russian folklore, and also this bewitching band formed from the fusion of the Hungarian trad-rockers KFT and the Russian traditional group Karagod when their paths clashed one starry 1989 night in Sicily. Baba Yaga also adds the Celtic/80s rock skill of Jamie Winchester, the Irish singer/guitar player. Yes, it really has something of the "three bat wings, two spoonfuls of ox's blood and a hair of the love interest" spirit of witchcraft, and here it curiously works.

This is their second album and includes eight of their own compositions (written over a six year period) and two covers: the Stones' "You can't always get what you want" and the Beatles' "Back in the USSR." The covers are good but their own songs are even better: "Secret Combination" and "Boy and a Girl" in particular are quite majestic, following the well-trodden path of Clannad and the Ukrainians, only with more jest, more inspiration and more integration.

Although the sound and structure of the songs is a bit dated, as if time stood still in 1989, the songs and in particular the way the Russian voices are incorporated in them is magnificent and shows a lot of song-writing talent at work, leading to an album full of enjoyable, energetic, soulful music. Similar in many respects to Kate Bush's "The Sensual World" or to early Waterboys this may not be inventing new genres, but serves the existing as well as it can be done. This record may not be hip, but it is already a classic in its genre and speaks very much of its time and place of conception. - Nondas Kitsos

Available at cdRoots

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