Of spectacles and marmots – Televizor’s Ochki

The group Televizor (Television) based around its vocalist Mikhail Borzykin has been around since 1984 and can be considered the 3rd generation of Leningrad Rock Club bands. The group’s first album “Shestvie Ryb” (Fish parade) was released in 1985, followed by “Otechestvo illiuzii” (Fatherland of illusion) in 1987. The latter album included the song “Tvoi papa – fashist” (Your dad’s a fascist) which created quite a controversy in the Leningrad Rock Club (while musically this is the song, I am not quite sure if this is the official video clip…):

What makes the song interesting today is that Borzykin rededicated it to Putin: “Tvoi Putin – fashist” (concert at B2, 23.10.2008):

Still active today, Televizor is one of the few active Leningrad Rock Club bands which is critical of the government and society. Borzykin is active within the Marsh nesoglasnykh and featured on the compilations “Muzyka NEsoglasnykh 1 and 2? (see my previous post on DDT). Their most recent songs tackle both the current government as well as Russia’s apolitical population. My current favorite is the song “Ochki” (Spectacles). Here is the song (with both Russian and English subtitles – thanx to Kalle for adding subtitles to the song):

What makes this song interesting are its lyrics which poke fun at different aspects of Russian society with the spectacles as typifications of different (patriotic) movements (at least from Borzykin’s point of view). The opening is already a direct reference to the government:

V ochered’, v ochered’, den’ surka, – In line, get in line, it’s Marmot day

The Russian word for marmot, surok refers here to Vladislav Surkov, both Putin and Medvedev’s main ideologist (in a secret meeting he met with several rock musicians in 2005 – amongst them Leningrad’s Sergei Shnurov and the grandfather of Russian rock, Akvarium’s Boris Grebenshchikov). The song also includes references to Putin’s power vertical

Khit sezona – ochki “Prezident”, – The season’s hit – spectacles “President”,
Elitnyi, dobryi kremlevskii brend. – Elitary, a friendly Kremlin brand
Vidno vse to zhe, chto v prochikh ochkakh, – You’ll see everything shown by the other glasses
Plius nezemnoi krasoty vertikal’. – Plus the vertical of celestial beauty

as well as the then to be elected Medvedev

I, nakonets, eshche odna modnaia tema: – And, finally, one more stylish theme:
Vse ochki s elementami “emo”! – All spectacles with elements of “emo”
Logotipchik – malen’kii, dobryi medved, – Logo – a small, goodnatured bear
Plius u vsekh stekol rozovyi tsvet. – And they all come with pink-colored glass

But Borzykin does not only criticize the government, he also targets one of his colleagues from the 1980s who remains a highly active musician: Alisa’s Konstantin Kinchev. A colleague of Borzykin’s Kinchev also remains active – and unlike Borzykin – very popular. Also unlike Borzykin, Kinchev has been very vocal in his support of the current government (bordering on a chauvinist nationalism) and of the Russian-Orthodox church. He has also become a devout believer and together with DDT’s Iurii Shevchuk met with then Metropolitan Kirill – some pictures can be found at www.pravaya.ru/dailynews/7420). Here is another version of “Ochki” from a concert at the St. Petersburg club “Orlandina” (November 3rd, 2007). I prefer this version because here the reference to Kinchev can both be heard (lyrics, voice intonation) and seen when Borzykin (at about 2:04) sings

Ochki berezkovye “Kolovrat” – Birch spectacles “Kolovrat”
Vidno nebo slavian i more dobra. – You can see the Heaven of the Slavs and the Ocean of Good
Pod nimi t’ma basurman, pogriazshikh vo zle – Beneath them the darkness of the Mongols, wallowing in evil
Naidi vraga bystro i bez problem! – Find the enemy quickly and without hassle

The quote points to the refrain of Alisa’s song “Nebo Slavian” referring both to the song’s title as well as the song’s refrain (thanx to Yngvar Steinholt for the translation) – something the audience recognize based on their cheering:

Nas tochit semia ordy, – We are whetted by the seeds of the horde,
Nas gnet iarmo basurman, – We are subdued by the basurman yoke,
No v nashikh venakh kipit, – But in our veins boils,
Nebo slavian. – The heaven of the Slavs.
I ot Chudskikh beregov, – And from the Peipus shore,
Do ledianoi Kolymy. – To the ice of Kolyma.
Vse eto nasha zemlia! – All this is our soil!
Vse eto my! – All this is us!

Kinchev deserves a blog post for himself, so I will not discuss him further here (there is a long section dedicated to him in my dissertation). As for Borzykin, this short interview from February 2008 offers a good conclusion:

Mikhail Borzykin, lider rok-gruppy “Televizor”

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