The Ukrainians

Live in Czeremcha

Koka 037CD13


Full Price (70 mins)

Originally published in Songlines.

It’s been twenty years now since Yorkshire’s finest first serenaded John Peel with a Ukrainian folk song in a punk rock reversioning, and since then they have travelled the world with their unique interpretations, rich with accordion, mandolin and sweet traditional vocal harmonies. All hail the Ukrainians! But listening to this live recording from Poland, released to celebrate their historic anniversary, it is difficult not to conclude that the Ukes have a problem: where once they were in a narodniy punk league of their own, now their sound has been caught up and overtaken by musicians from the old country. Firstly Ukrainian language music is now mainstream, and secondly countless Ukrainian rock bands seem to be copying their shtick, and doing it better: next to stadium-filling local heroes like Vopli Vidopliassova, the Ukes are more Chas’n’Dave than rock’n’roll. Don’t get me wrong, the band can still fire off a mean tune, but now that everyone in world music is singing songs from everywhere like those old boundaries never existed, you can’t help feeling they need to develop another angle. One star for the packaging courtesy of the ever impressive Koka label, and another one for nostalgia.

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