The Ukrainians
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The Ukrainians
Live! Drink To My Horse
Zirka (

Back in the early '90s when I first began uncovering the joys of roots music mixed with rock and punk energy, I fell in love with the Ukrainians. The Ukrainians emerged out of the English rock band The Wedding Present after the group's leader, Peter Solowka, began indulging himself in a side project centered on Ukrainian music. Their three full-length CDs on Cooking Vinyl were touching and fierce alternative folk-pop, with a smattering of trad tunes thrown amongst Smiths and Velvet Underground covers sung in Ukrainian. The Ukrainians always plied their trade with plenty of sincerity and bottles of vodka. The band was also graced with a remarkable singer in Len Liggins, whose deep voice oozed sex in Ukrainian and could out-Morrissey Morrissey himself.

Following the extensive touring in 1994 to promote their Kultura album, the Ukrainians appeared to have vanished. But now they are back, announcing their return with a fabulous live silver platter filled with a generous twenty tracks that capture the group at their ragged best. The selections here cover the years 1989-1994 in England, Germany, Switzerland, and Holland: an unexpected gift to long-time fans and new initiates alike. Drink To My Horse shows the Ukrainians firing on all cylinders right from the start: their classic "Oi Divchino" escalates to breath-taking speed. Similarly, the instrumental "Hopak," which Solowka used to play at weddings, takes flight. And when the band harmonizes in Ukrainian at the beginning of "Koroleva Ne Pomerla," the delight in recognizing the Smiths' "The Queen is Dead" from the crashing drums and accordion is still fresh. Two versions of "Davni Chasy" ("Those Were the Days") are offered on the CD; on the second version they are joined by the Oysterband and Rev Hammer. This is a solid set, and they promise more, including an album of new material. The resurrection of the Ukrainians is most welcome. - Lee Blackstone

(from the Ukrainians web site)

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