Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Red Wave: 4 Underground Bands from the USSR [Big Time, 1986]
With glasnost glimmering, four officially unrecognized bands smuggle their tapes out to get them heard here, one side per band. Though their benighted countrymen think they're new-wavers, by Western standards all are pretty tame--the legendary Aquarium play art-rock, Aquarium protégés Kino play pop, Alisa play boogie, and Strange Games play, well, ska. The Russian gutturals are suitably aggressive, and here and there--the first two Aquarium tracks, the guitar (synth?) that cuts against the magic words "rock and roll" repeated again and again in Alisa's "Bad Boy"--you'll hear acerbic harmonies that I assume are Slavic. But the most convincing set overall come from the ska guys, and I know why--the polka connection. B-