Soviet Vocal-Instrumental Ensembles: the lost, terrible pop of the USSR

Originally published at:


@doctorow - There are a few typos in your post. You misspelled “awesome” as a-w-f-u-l, and “terrific” as t-e-r-r-i-b-l-e.


Not sure what is bad about this at all. Not my taste, certainly, but pretty much standard stuff from the 70s. Apart from the awkward outfits, which I guess is still cool to make fun of…


Sounds like Abba without any of the (oh, what’s that word again…) … talent?



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Whoa, that is a special kind of awfulness, affends the eardrums.

Elves are wonderful. They provoke wonder.
Elves are marvelous. They cause marvels.
Elves are fantastic. They create fantasies.
Elves are glamorous. They project glamour.
Elves are enchanting. They weave enchantment.
Elves are terrific. They beget terror.

The thing about words is that meanings can twist just like a snake, and if you want to find snakes look for them behind words that have changed their meaning.

No one ever said elves are nice.

Elves are bad.

Terry Pratchett - Lords and Ladies


This is exactly what we need to make America great again!


I take exception to Eduard Khil (the trololo guy) being called awful. He was genius! And by all accounts he had a pretty good range going.


Fun! Looking at the US Top 40 on any given week I doubt that I could pull out three songs that I’d rather listen to than this.

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That was so totally worth watching to the end! I highly recommend it!

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Some of these groups were actually pretty hip, Pesnyari (Песняры) made some kinda cool prog-rock in the 70’s, and you can hear what sounds like a Zappa influence. They got away with it because they were either adapting old folk songs, or using older state-approved Belarussian poetry as lyrics. Sound on this one isn’t so good but you can see they were pretty funky:

(Give the drummer some, холера!)

And look at this album art, these guys were really pushing the envelope for Soviet album art.


From roughly the same period:

It seems that, if you lose the “vocal-” in “Soviet vocal-instrumental ensembles”, you lose the “terrible pop” as well… :wink:


Every weekend, my in laws in Detroit go to a Russian disco restaurant, drink stacks of vodka, and dance to this stuff. It is very much like the Russian picture of American life from the 1970’s.


Do you think that’s it? The “terrible” Russian pop isn’t any more or less terrible than terrible than American pop of the same time period. I’ve heard a lot of absolutely dreadful unlistenable American pop from the same era.

Apparently the Soviet Union was powerless to resist invasion of horrific yellow bell-bottoms.

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And Zappa was influenced by Stravinsky, who hated the Soviets.

Hmm… You might have a point there… Okay, it seems that, if you lose the “vocal-” in “American vocal-instrumental ensembles”, you lose the “terrible pop” as well… :wink:


It’s a pity that the designer chickened out of pixellating the diagonal on the Я.