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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

They Must Be Russians - Chains

Name: They Must Be Russians
Album: Chains
Year: 1983
Style: Post-Punk
Similar Bands: Cabaret Voltaire, Fad Gadget, Gang of Four, Dead or Alive, Depeche Mode
"One Word" Review:Post Caribbean Pop
Based out of: Sheffield, England
Label: First Floor Records
Chains - Cover & Record
 Chains - Back & Record
 Chains - Inner Notes front/back
Chains - Inner Notes 
Chains (1983)
  1. Chains 7:57
  2. Gramophone 3:34
  3. Fighting 2:20
Album Rating (1-10): 6.5

Members & Other Bands
Russell "Russian" Davies- Vox, Guitar
Paul Russian - Vox Guitar
Carl - Bass
Brendan - Effects
Pete Care - Artwork & Layout
Colin Richardson - Co-Producer
Herbert Egoldt - Producer
Nick Blackburn
Russ Russian
Stuart Kirk-Spriggs
Trevor Dooley (Rain Dance)

Unknown-ness: I had not heard of this band, but I picked it up many years ago in a dollar bin on South Street, simply because of the close name proximity to They Might Be Giants. From the modern artwork, I figured it would not be anything like them, but I *had* to know what this sounded like. I have not listened to it in many years since, so I can’t remember, but I think it is bleak no-wave, or some kind of mechanical punk. The artwork reminds me somewhat of New Order, so maybe they will be more dancey than that, but here’s to hoping!

Album Review: So I've read that They Must Be Russians are one of two bands from the UK (these guys from Sheffield), that took their name from a Sex Pistols interview/reference. As they are friends with the guys from Cabaret Voltaire, their music shares the post-punk genera. This is a single of all non-album tracks from the time of their first full length’s release: a true EP.

“Chains” starts with a jangely eching guitar, and then with a whistle blow, comes in with a funky bass line, and is overlapped with Caribbean keyboards. The vocals come in and are somewhat deep and nasally, but overall, very funky, and a little like Dead or Alive. The bass takes a solo with a plucked playing style, and gos right back into the steady stomping rhythm. A guitar solo follows up, and is accented by the steel drum keys. There are a lot of elements coming in to make this song up, from post punk to disco to early rap (or the Clash) to island themes. This remix of the song was intended for a dance floor of misfit kids. It fades out at 6:24, only to come right back in and pick up a more island rhythms / Talking Heads meets Kid Creole vibe as it finishes out the last base-heavy, and echoing brass flourishment  minute forty-five.

“Gramophone” starts with atmospheric, synthesized whirling. The song immediately picks up the pace with a nervous rhythm and blasting horns. Vocals sound a bit like Depeche Mode, but you didn’t hear me say that. The song is sterile and dark at the roots of the song.
“Fighting” picks up with the same angular bass heavy rhythm and adds the jittery, shocking keyboard in the back, as well as horns and sax. The vocals are chanting in melody in small bursts, and it is the music that plays out. With a little different production, this could be a B-52’s song. 

This is a short example of their music, the true extended play to the full length (that i'm not familiar with at all) but I think this gave too little insight to the band to be a good example of their style. What was there was a little repetitive and sparse, perhaps in support of a remix. 

Stand Out Track: Fighting

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