In light of an amazing discovery I made today, at least it’s amazing to me, I figured I should go ahead and write a blog post about the first EP by my second favourite band, The Bolshoi.
At that link you can find an 8-song play list I just put together. The first video is a video that was only uploaded to You Tube three days ago, and is what has got me so excited. I was only vaguely aware that there was a video for “Happy Boy,” but for all I could be sure, it was merely a rumour. The Bolshoi did very few videos over the course of their EP and two full length albums. (There is also a rumour of a fourth album that Beggars Banquet has not released. Possible proof of this is a number of new songs The Bolshoi started playing at live shows in 1988.)
I was able to find 5 of the 6 tracks from the EP on You Tube. “Sliding Seagulls” is the only one that I couldn’t find. The other three songs on the play list are b-sides, one of which I’d never heard until today (their cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Crosstown Traffic”). The biggest problem with this play list, I’ll warn you, is that “Fly,” “Sob Story,” “Boxes,” and “Crosstown Traffic” cut off a little early, but right at the end of the songs.
I first heard The Bolshoi on late night MTV. It was the video for a song called “A Way” from their “Friends” album. I was totally mesmerized. It was like finally hearing the band that I was always hoping to hear. I stayed up for a couple of weeks after that hoping to hear it again, and I did. The only problem is that I wasn’t ready to tape it with one of those fancy VCR things we had.
Later, I met my friend Derek, who I am still friends with to this day. We met on the school bus (I was in high school at that time), and the discussion quickly turned to music. When I realized that Derek seemed to have more interesting taste than most people I knew, I asked him if he’d heard of The Bolshoi. He had, and actually owned “Giants” and “Friends.” He said he didn’t like “Lindy’s Party” as much. When I finally bought a copy of “Lindy’s Party” I had to respectfully disagree with his assessment, as I liked it as much as the other albums.
Derek wisely loaned me “Giants” first, so that I could experience them somewhat chronologically. I listed to “Giants” over and over and over.
You have to understand that when I started listening to The Bolshoi, I had not yet heard Duran Duran’s “Big Thing” album, and “Notorious” while being one of my favourite albums in my collection at that time, felt a little bit like a step down from everything Duran Duran had done before, at least at that time. a-ha had followed up their first album with two albums that were better than the first, so why was Duran Duran experiencing this slump of sorts. And then here was a band, The Bolshoi, which appealed to everything that was musical in my body, mind, and soul. The Bolshoi very nearly dethroned Duran Duran as my favourite band.
Two things happened that stopped this from happening, though it took a while for the repercussions of these events to become clear. The first is that I heard “Big Thing” and fell in love with my favourite band again. The second is that The Bolshoi disbanded, and after a few years, the lack of new material lowered their status a little. Not enough that a-ha would have dethroned The Bolshoi as my second favourite band, but enough that Duran Duran would remain on top.
The “Giants” EP is their most punk/dark/gothic work. While there are keyboards present on the EP, they were simply a three piece band at the time with a singer/guitarist, a bassist, and a drummer. It also contains all the pent up creative energy that seems to be present on many first albums. In spite of all of this, it is not my favourite of their albums. I will likely always think that “Friends” was their best work. “Giants” or “Lindy’s Party” could each be my second favourite depending on if I’m in a dark mood, or a lighter, but still bemusedly cynical mood.
Highlights of the album for me (well, aside from the whole album) are “Fly” which takes the energy to eleven, and “Hail Mary” which remains to this day one of my favourite songs of all time, musically and lyrically. Though, if you would have asked me as a teenager, the title track would stand out as the song that defined the whole EP.
One last tidbit: I had a dream when I was eighteen or nineteen that I was laying in a bean bag, in the TV section of a K-Mart, watching TV. A video for “Sliding Seagulls” came on. As far as I know, there was no video for “Sliding Seagulls.” I remember realizing when I woke up that the video in my dream looked an awful lot like the video for “TV Man” from “Lindy’s Party.”
If you listen to the play list, I hope you enjoy it. I will try to edit it later if I can find additional tracks (“Sliding Seagulls” and the other b-sides) and if I can find the tracks that cut off in complete form.
This is probably the best website for The Bolshoi: