Thinking over Rock ("Russian Rock")
Well, incredible to some as it may be, Russian (German, Chinese, Marsian, etc) Rock does not exisist - Rock is international. It doesn't have a nationality, and neither has everything created by mankind (or for mankind?): the creative as well as something different (take science, for instance). In our ambivalent World nothing is one hundred percent, but Art in its integrity is the closest to the ideal of creation. This is, most likely, the only thing, of which mankind at large as well as any given "nation" can be proud. And Art doesn't have a care for anybody's "national" pride, obviously false within "its" confines.
For Art the map of our (small) world, many-coloured like the most idiotic, woven from shreds blanket, is as absurd as customs office and so on. Any Art lover enjoys genuine Art in any if its manifestations, no matter where it could be created, no matter what national rag covers it.
Genuine Art, this most valuable for the Universe informational (and it's a big thing) structure lies, of course, beyond such alien notions for the endless world as "border". I don't think it is necessary to give any examples of a really international Art, that's is also endless in its manifestations, for this is obvious to everybody anyway. You can't embrace everything, and some of us have chosen as a priority other most important "ingredients" of Art, especially literature, that is tied inseparably with music - and they supplement each other,- always together in any case the passion for Rock.
And after all that's been said here, we have to recognize with reluctance the fact, that so called "Russian Rock" (this "phenomenon" is savoured voluptuously everywhere, before all in our press) is interesting to nobody at all, except for Russians: no British, Dutch, Hungarian on listening it will ever think about it, let alone buying (searching?!). Even the Russian immigrants, scattered all over the world, with rare exceptions, - directed toward real Rock,- listen out of our Rock (Pop!) legacy mostly not even to professionals such as Pugacheva, let alone such paradox local idols as "Nanists" (about mind possible side meanings), etc, but to the slang of Shufutinsky.
As for us, we rated for decades about the appearance in our "Melody" excellent Chech, Polish, etc., available then Rock production, and Omega, singing in Hungarian, has long become Classic for us. Who could afford the pleasure, bought Dutch Focus or German Eloy, and no one ever thought (thinks) absurd stuff: "This is a bright Dutch Rock, and that is Hungarian". It has to do not only with the language, on which a Rock work is sung (if it's not fully instrumental). So, if the mentioned Omega sang mostly in their native language (they had a number of albums come out in England, though), many popular in the '70s in the whole Prog-World really unique Italian bands, such as PFM, Banco, Orme, etc, didn't turn to the most international English quite consciously. More than that, when PFM pressed a couple of "doubles" in English on Emerson's label "Manticore" with help of Crimson's (not only) professional poet Peter Sinfield, critics all as one began to shout: "Please pick the original version: Italian is so beatiful that the new version simple lose the key vocal colours".
Thus, if "Russian Rock" were real Rock it would find at least a tiny international niche. After all, it was so with Russian Cruise (especially), Aria, Master (until they started to sing in English), and even miserable parody on clean American Pop-Metal Gorky Park (only once, and this for one week, I think, they got into the end of their "Top 100" only because of the "Russian" touch in the scenic image: a gigantic bass-balalaika). But unfortunately, today nobody "over there" remembers them, since the really international Metal they play cannot boast of any original ideas and most often is a simple copy of their Western idols (for example: Aria - Iron Maiden).
All told we have nevertheless Rock Art that surpasses the "borders". Never disappeared from the pages of the established and big in volume American Prog-server "Gibraltar" bands Arsenal and Gorizont have thus become Prog-classics: quite solid reviews are dedicated to them. Also I have found there another our performers: Dialog, Autograph,..., but the reviews on them are small, though one album from each is remarked with a felt delight. Moreover, it was the Russian debut of Autograph (and it's only a mini-album: less than 30 min) that brought about a storm of emotions, whereas the English version of "Stone Land", that was apparently conceived to be a hit like Asia, was evaluated accordingly. The section of Progressive Rock performed in languages other than English is quite big and it contains a lot of bands, among which there are some stars, whose quality of musicis equalled by critics with Genesis and Camel! As for me, I wish I could complete a gigantic English- language section for my new book, so that's why I could attend to the no less important "second Prog-category" only later.
VM (Vitaly Menshikov): October 2000