Ex Omnibus Linguis Reviews of
(The Winter of Sthurtsiteh)
Review in RPM#27/28 (Winter/Spring 1998/1999)
"Dear reader, you might be from a different generation. You might not be Bulgarian. Then, the following pages will be like the small streets of an unknown suburb at sunset. You might not go wrong but, inevitably, questions will come to your mind. Because the story told in this saga took place in the bottom right corner of Europe at a time branded by, at first glance, a bloodless war, called a cold war, and life was like in a novel by Orwell". This is the way the author of the book, the journalist Roumen Yanev introduces his documentary but nevertheless passionate account of the most powerful early rock formation in Bulgaria - Sthurtsiteh (the Crickets), who not only survived bitter for rock musicians times but were for several decades a cult sign in the struggle for ideological and artistic freedom.
Even devoted to the story of one only group, the book illustrates some specific social and political circumstances in early localising of the rock practice in Bulgaria. The title is borrowed from a famous piece of Sthurtsiteh, sung at the end of the 60s. Used as a metaphor, it implies a place/country where "rock-and-roll was not only an expression of a dangerous aggression of youth, it was above all a manifestation of ideological sabotage aiming at undermining the foundations of socialism." The political context, dominated the story told in this book, is drawn upon the very musicians accounts, quotes from old newspapers, memories of eye witnesses, and also on the author's own memories, who is a contemporary of the first rock generation in Bulgaria. Illustrated with valuable pictures from the personal archives of the group members, the book brings also the notion of a nostalgia to the sweet, crazy and unforgettable young years, when even the iron curtain was not able to stop the immediate, quick invasion of rock-and-roll, and old ideological taboos were nevertheless seriously destroyed.
A discography of Sthurtsiteh listed on pp. 140-141 includes titles, released by Balkanton (1968-1988) and the private record label GMP (1996-1998), plus recordings for the Bulgarian national radio, television and cinema (1967-1987) - information which increases the documentary value of the publication. As a whole, the book is an important step in the written story of Bulgarian rock.
The volume by Bulgarian radio journalist and jazz fan/musician is a surprisingly consistent popular music encyclopaedia which covers both, Bulgarian and »international« (predominately Anglo-American, but also former Soviet and other Eastern European) popular music in an alphabetic order. Individual performers, singers, musicians and authors, groups and most important terms and issues from the field of popular music are included in the soft-covered volume.
All the names and terms are transliterated and translated in Bulgarian, so the foreign reader may have some problems in finding particular groups or singers, especially concerning the fact that Bulgarian alphabet does not fit with a Latin one – the letter z is only the eight letter of this alphabet. If the reader looks briefly to the content of the volume, s/he may welcome the decision that Bulgarian and foreign popular music authors, musicians, singers and groups are placed together. It seems that the author was trying to include the most important pop, jazz and rock performers, authors and groups. His selection obviously depends on importance and impact of particular performers, authors and groups have (or had) on the Bulgarian popular music. I suppose he did include all the important Bulgarian names.
Every individual musician or group is represented on a half page (or more) with selection of discography and most important biographic data. The most important popular music terms (e.g., album, ambient, arrangement, art rock – under the letter a), are also included and explained in a short, but concise manner, together with venues and important places (e.g., Apollo Theatre). We could find problematic statements and descriptions (e.g. mentioning only of Genesis and Jethro Tull under the heading of art rock), but it does not change the overall positive picture of the volume: Bulgarian readers have got a very important and usable popular music encyclopaedia which will be completed with the two more volumes planned to be published in this and next year.
You need now the address of
one of the publishers?
Last update 29-August-1999 Heinz-Peter Katlewski