The Beatles

[The Beatles][twocolumns]





Choba B CCCP

I already switched to CD, actually. A year earlier, when Sgt. Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band was re-released digitally remastered for the first time, I bought a CD player. But I couldn’t ignore the opportunity to purchase the LP Choba B CCCP (pronounced as Snova V Es Es Es R, Russian for Back In The USSR), because the so-called 'Russian Album' was only available in the Soviet Union.

It was the last vinyl album that I would buy, and to me it’s a special one. It has something mysterious by the Cyrillic letters, what makes that you have no idea what's written on the sleeve. Only the titles were in the Latin script. What raised the question to me whether the Russians could read that part.

The album is a gesture to Russian fans. It were total different times back then and Western music was banned in the Soviet Union. Until then Russians had to deal with bootlegs, often of poor quality, or rare originals which were smuggled into the country.
The second half of the eighties were the years of glasnost and perestroika. With the arrival of the new Soviet leader Gorbachev and the reforms he was undertaking, it seemed the end of the Cold War was in sight. A period of relaxation started and also in music Russia was loosening up. In that atmosphere McCartney came up with the idea to release an album exclusively in the Soviet Union.

Video: Don't Get Around Much Anymore (live, 1987)

The album contains covers of Rock 'n' Roll classics, mainly originated from the fifties and sixties and recorded during two sessions in July 1987. The recordings follow a series of Friday night jams McCartney organized for a while, where songs as That’s Allright, Mama, Twenty Flight Rock and Lawdy Miss Clawdy were played regurlarly. He decided to capture the spontaneity of those jam sessions by recording them live with a small band. This approach lead to the recording of an astonishing number of eighteen songs on the first day.
Video: Paul talks about Choba B CCCP

At first Russian record company Melodiya released only 50,000 copies, and they were sold out in no time. A month later a new edition was issued, to which two songs, Summertime and I'm Gonna Be a Wheel Someday, were added. From this second edition, a few hundred copies were officially sold in the west. And I was one of the lucky few who managed to get that album. But as a young twenty year old I was not aware that the album started to become a collector's item. Because that was a side-effect of the exclusive release in the Soviet Union: The LPs were getting sold at high prices in the West. Thus this strange situation occurs: now an album wasn’t smuggled into Russia, but out of it… And thereby McCartney put, albeit unintentionally, a trend. Because after Choba B CCCP more Russian albums of Western artists followed the same path.

Not long after my purchase of Choba B CCCP, my record player disappears into the storage room, to never emerge again. But earlier this year I decided to return to vinyl, got me a new player, took my old records off the shelf and listened to them again. Likewise, this collection of rock classics. And the album still sounds great. The sound is fresh, clear and has stood the test of time very well; the band sounds tight and yet playful. The live approach is all basic, with little fuss, but it’s Rock 'n' Roll as early Rock 'n' Roll was intended. When capturing spontaneity was the goal, it's succeeded. In short, the album rocks in a pleasant way.
Video: Lawdy Miss Clawdy (live, 1987)

It is tempting to make a comparison with Lennon's counterpart Rock' n 'Roll. But that is by the total divergent approaches of the two albums actually hard to do: Paul's album was recorded in two days, the production of John's cover album took about a year; And while John gives his own interpretations, Paul focuses on the basics; On Choba B CCCP plays a four piece band, on Rock 'n' Roll 23 musicians participated, including a horn section. Thereby, and by the influence of producer Phil Spector, Rock 'n' Roll has a much fuller sound. Listen to the versions of Just Because on both albums, and the contrast is immediately clear.

Video: Just Because (Choba B CCCP)

Video: Just Because (Rock 'n' Roll)

In the Soviet Union, the album is a great success. And on the other side of the Iron Curtain tracks of Choba B CCCP appear from time to time as singles B-sides . Eventually, the Russian album got a worldwide release, on CD in 1991.

Related posts:

Macca's Eighties

André Homan

André Homan is a Dutch writer and journalist.

Post A Comment
  • Blogger Comment using Blogger
  • Facebook Comment using Facebook
  • Disqus Comment using Disqus

Geen opmerkingen :