Perestroika

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“Only 5% Alcohol joke content.”
~ Grand Peoples' Ministry of Intoxicating Beverage and Party Peanuts Consumption Ministry
Perestroikatape
The special "reverse sided" edition Perestroika bought by a collector in 2005 for $4.50 (or 765,838,568,458,569 rubles).

Perestroika (Russian: Перестройка, Russian pronunciation: /turn•it•off!/) was the second studio album of then up-and-coming artist Mikhail Gorbachev, released in 1987. The album vowed to reform the Soviet music industry and cater to the long ignored embarrassing-uncle-at-parties market.

Perestroika, with its free and decentralized tones, is generally considered as the album that divided the Soviet musical establishment - it is also considered many other things, none of which are good or pronounceable here.

edit Background

Bouncywikilogo7
For the religious among us who choose to believe lies, the so-called experts at Wikipedia have an article about Perestroika.
Leninboat
Alas, Disco Lenin had seen his last mirror-ball.

The year - 1985. The music of choice - commanding party power ballad. Introductions - didn't come much better than this. Except for on Betamax.

Musical styles varied from the flat sounds and slow notes of Brezhnev to the rather abrupt beats of Chernenko and absolutely nothing in between. These were universally loved by all of everyone, 100%.[1] Talent was distributed equally throughout the community and egos were compact, modest and slightly less reliable than a Trabant.

It was also in March 1985 that little known musician/part time secretary Mikhail Gorbachev received his big break, narrowly beating out girl band The Apparatchicks in the popular talent program Supreme Soviet. Their short shorts just weren't short enough.

Gorbachev's distinctly Western performance had been influenced by his lengthy study abroad in the various disreputable institutions of Europe. What the hell Gorbachev was doing studying popular music in a library is anyone's guess, but he quickly familiarised himself with Western music, Western culture and Western toilet bowls or some kind of unhygienic mixture of the three.[2] As Deputy Head of the Department of Party Organs - Primarily Digestive Ones (the Soviet term for has good connections) Gorbachev was able to perform alongside bongo bashing Pierre Trudeau in 1983 and union bashing Marget Thatcher in 1984 for the infamous "Trickle Down Effect" photo-shoot.

Gorbachev's first album post victory, Uskoreniye, achieved poor sales success and was panned by critics for "a focus on heavy industry reminiscent of the Village people". So, as Gorbachev pondered places where he could stick his sequin covered doctrine, he also set to work writing the album that would fundamentally redefine the Soviet musical landscape and ruin parties for years afterwords.

edit Track Listing

1. I is on your Enterprise

Considered the landmark tune of the album and a true triumph of Soviet technopolka. I is on your Enterprise was first performed in July 1987 on the very popular talent program Supreme Soviet and, even from first observation, issued a paradigm shift in the Soviet music and heavy mullet industries. Yeltin earned particular praise for his backup singing while Olga was lauded for her work on the keyboard - each was heartily rewarded; Yeltin with a top position in the Supreme Soviet and Olga with a tea-towel.

Judicious use of guitar and keyboard give a sense of individualism along with the light melodies of the accordion that emphasize the enduring Soviet spirit[3]. The utilization of various electronically generated sound effects also symbolize Soviet technological advances, while triangles are used to... uh... they are just used.

[Excerpt]

1... 2... 4... 5...

How much does you outputing?

Does I need to put boot in?

You must fulfill state orders.

Lock up your wifes or daughters

I is demand moooorrreee… moooorrreee

Cover your own expenses,

I is knock down all the fences

I is not save you baby,

From debt or the bankruptcy

I is demand moooorrreee… moooorrreee

7. State Oil

{All rights property of Roman Abramograd}

Decentralize Me, Babies!

I doesn't need your ministries!

Break them ups for the moneys

We is now an oligarc-

{All rights property of Roman Abramograd. REMEMBER THAT BITCH.}

Gorbachevsing
You or me are one, together, apart... we is need no state love control no?
11. Welcoming my foreign friends!

Originally penned in the early eighties, Welcoming my foreign friends! was the first of a million global songs and half a Russian song to preach cultural, racial and Christmas sales harmony. Several big name stars helped pitch in for the recording taking it as an issue of social conscience, including Bono, Bob Geldof, Madonna, Bono and did we mention Bono?

Such diverse input helped create a unique sound often referred to as Rocknopolka; traditional Soviet instruments such as the Balalaika, Volynka and Onion compliment the distinctly western influences of the electric guitar, amp and egotism, to create a literally barrier breaking sound - much to the delight of local wall builders who predicted unparalleled growth for the next 30 years.

(Gorbachev)

I am cosmonaut in space,

Up here in this cosmic place

My engine is light up with fire

Look it is foreign buyer!

(Bono)

Can I have come and buy?

I have foreign money and French fry

(Gorbachev)

Alien moneys is welcome here

We has no need for fear

You do not have disease

Unlike in other policies

edit Reception

Public reception of was initially warm... for Russia at least which, mind you, anywhere else is rather damn cold. The album enjoyed moderate success among younger listeners, who enjoyed its different tone and thinly veiled sexual metaphors while older listeners responded with pahs and humfs at the loud notes and lack of mustache.

Leninstar
The album was generally regarded as a step away from the deep seeded Leninist ideals of collectivism, keyboard solos and floating round in giant red stars.

Critical responses varied greatly. Alexander Yakovlev, writer for the magazine Musikburo, declared the album

Cquote1 A large leap in the right direction, however one must think of how we can reform more quickly. Where can we replace a workers choir with a solo? Where can we use a hamburger instead of an accordion? That is the mindset we need. 4 ☭☭☭☭ Cquote2

The head critic of the Pravda categorically panned the album, describing it as;

Cquote1 A metaphorical kick in the face for everything the glorious revolution ever sang for! Wait for the torrent. 1 ☭ Cquote2

While former musician, cult icon, sex symbol, facial hair enthusiast and critic, Vladimir Lenin simply responded;

Cquote1 ...[4] Cquote2

However Gorbachev's aging mother summed up the public opinion best;

Cquote1 Oh deary, I tell you what, once he tried to reform my petunias and it sounded twice as good as this. Cquote2

It is also rumored that Actor/very part time politician Ronald Reagan enjoyed the album and stayed awake for a whole cabinet session while listening to it. This is widely considered a fairy story and has been the basis of quite a few Christan children's books.

edit Success

The first few months netted modest sales for the album, nothing overly spectacular but enough to satisfy Gorbachev. A tour was announced with shows planned for Red Square, Kazakhstan, Chernobyl and Afghanistan with support from the Yeltsin back-up dancers. All shows went off without a hitch... except for a slight electrical surge in Chernobyl. Popularity gradually increased, however there was little inclination of what it would soon become - the best selling album of Soviet history.

921597 russia150
Who needs bread when you have the synthetic rhythms of Perestroika? Not these strapping young men!

Three main factors proved to be instrumental in its success;

  1. Thanks in part to the message of freedom and openness in Gorbachev’s follow up album Glasnost, people were finally able to break away from the social constraints of saying they “liked what ever was on the Top 20 charts.” A new era had dawned where people could criticize each other’s musical taste and listen to whatever they felt like without persecution. People quickly embraced this freedom, describing Brezhnev's tunes as "lacking in a certain intrinsic harmony thus failing in its attempt to be melodious or moving" and Andropov as simply "ghey emo shit".
  2. Prior to Perestroika people would gather round the local branch of the Ministry of Noises (regulator of music and pointless atomic blasts 1945 - 1987), listen to whatever was playing at the time and burst into spontaneous Disnesque singing... before being purged or exiled or whatever else they had to do that day. However, now people could actually own their own copy of Perestroika on tape or vinyl and listen to the counter-revolutionary tones whenever they felt like.
  3. The propensity for vengeful grandmothers to curse those around them with maladies, blights and other crap 80s compilation albums for Christmas.

Compelled by the ancient, and now legal, human urge to "upstage thy neighbor" people flocked to buy their own personal copy so as to smear in their neighbor's own personal face... personally.

Factories turned from producing the necessities of steel, oil, bread and mail order brides to churning out copies of Perestroika in an attempt to satisfy demand. Still, this measure was not enough and shortages ensued. Long queues began to form outside stores - people would stand outside for days fending off the bitter cold, ravenous wolves and those people who speak too loudly on their phones, just to get their copy - such was the stubborn determination[5] of the Soviet people.

edit Decline

Perestwinner
All my years of experience have taught me that nothing beats rock, not even that Paristrucker whohaa... These? No, they're filled with delicious milk chocolate.

The Soviet social system couldn't handle these bulging, sweaty Western egos and promptly fell - with the grace of a steroid pumped East German gymnast - into a sea of self obsessed bickering. Lithuania threatened to run away from home while Azerbaijan vowed to lock itself in the international closet until the USSR realized how artsy and misunderstood its culture was. Estonia was just pissed off the album lacked the tuba.

Such discord was matched within Gorbachev’s band. Though he had been selected as the head of the Supreme Soviet judging panel, many accused Gorbachev of “selling out” after the release of his clichéd anti-alcohol album for children, Alcohols Reform. Yeltsin threatened to split citing “creative differences” and "Gorbachev's tragic accidental death".

Observing such sentiment, then President Ronald Reagan was quick to travel to Berlin and exacerbate the division, though mainly it was just to escape the ravenous glam rockers roaming middle America.

Cquote1 Mr. Gorbachev, if you seek freedom
Mr. Gorbachev, if you seek peace

Mr. Gorbachev, if you seek talentless boybands

Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall.

Te- te- te- tear it doooowwwwnnnn

Cquote2
Reagan then attempts to break-dance, fails and his credibility is hastily carted off by Republican party aides.
Audience claps once, twice, checks their watches and claps a third time.

So, on December 25, 1991 the Soviet music industry was officially dissolved, split into its various genres that would from then on only ever meet to mock each other's musical tastes (see 2008 South Ossetia Goth v. Metal conflict).

Still, Gorbachev had succeeded. With his model of overexposing a once tolerable song, he had successfully Westernized the Soviet music industry. The age of communism was at an end, the age of sitting alone listening to your iPod like an anti-social douche bag had just begun.

Thus the musical world returned to shitty boy bands. Everything was right.

edit Now

Perestroika has been adapted into several different languages and mediums, arguably most successfully by the Beijing Master Opera and Ballet Company with a slow classic opera, while the Beijing Amateur Shouting and Stumbling Company has vowed to further diminish the album's credibility one very crate-paper covered way or another.

While the album has long been replaced by the modern yet strangely familiar sounds of Put!n and Medvedev the legacy of Perestroika lives on, mainly through typically Russian[6] debates over its musical genre. Most now agree that it is Techno-polka, despite the persistent claims from the Baltic States that it was clearly Disco-folka… though at most music stores it can be found clearly marked under the title of “Bargain Bin”.

edit Footnotes

  1. The same all of everyone that voted in the 2008 elections
  2. A Vodka joke is required to go here by law.
  3. Vodka again
  4. More insightful than most musicians
  5. Begins with V and ends with divorce
  6. Another Vodka?! Don’t you think you’ve had enough for tonight?

edit See Also

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