One of the all-time classic Latvian rock groups must be Pērkons, which has been releasing albums for more than 15 years. Thankfully for all of the many Pērkons fans, MICREC has released two compact discs with many of the group’s top songs. The most recent is Dziesmu izlase #2, 1985-1987.
In the summer of 1990, I had the good fortune to be able to participate in a Latvian music camp in Canada. The camp was organized by the renowned Latvian-American musician and composer Dace Aperāne, and Latvian musicians came from all over the world to participate. Among the musicians invited was Juris Kulakovs, the keyboardist and music composer for the famous Latvian rock group Pērkons.
Working with such a respected musician was quite the thrill. I wasn’t too familiar with the music of Pērkons at the time, having only heard one song, “Zaļā dziesma,” off the classic Mikrofons 88 collection. The song still today remains one of my favorite Perkons songs, and one of my favorite songs by any Latvian group.
During the closing show of the music camp, all the campgoers joined in and performed “Gandrīz tautas dziesma” with orchestra and choir! Quite an experience.
Around that time, Pērkons had released two of its albums—Labu vakar and Klusā daba ar perspektīvu—in the United States in cassette format and I was able to pick up a copy during the music camp. Though the sound quality of the recording wasn’t the best, and there were a few mistakes in the song listings, this was a tape I would continually listen to ever since.
During a trip to Latvia in the fall of 1998, I picked up the official Latvian cassette release of the two albums—this time with much better sound quality and the correct track listing. And all over again I began to listen to this tape all the time.
And now this collection of songs finally makes the transition to CD format—and what better format to hear these Latvian rock music classics in?
The CD is the second in the Dziesmu izlase series from Pērkons. The first CD, Dziesmu izlase #1, released in 1994, represented the years 1981 and 1982, and this CD represents the years 1985 to 1987. (Editor’s note: MICREC tells SVEIKS.com that “with luck” a third CD might be issued to complete the collection.)
Two songs were lost in the transition to CD—I’m assuming because of the space limitations of the CD format—“Sastrēgumstunda” and “Kā pasakā.” This is unfortunate, because “Sastrēgumstunda” is a favorite of mine.
Dziesmu izlase #2 contains Latvian songwriting and musicianship at its finest. Memorable songs include:
- “Gandrīz tautas dziesma” with faux folk song lyrics.
- The aforementioned “Zaļā dziesma,” a song dedicated and written for Greenpeace, showcasing the beautiful soprano voice of Ieva Akuratere.
- The catchy humor of “Baletomānija,” featuring Kulakovs on his only lead vocal performance, and also Akuratere making a very off-key performance!
- “Cik pulkstens,” which details the end of a relationship when two people are unable to express their feelings for each other.
Other favorites include “Mana dienišķā dziesma,” “Labu vakar” and “Slidotava”.
Many of the songs are very catchy and the group displays a growing maturity in its songwriting style and lyrics. A few of the longer songs drag a bit. “Lampas un zvaigznes” goes on for a bit longer than it should, and “Neatvadīsimies” is a bit repetitive, but these are just minor criticisms of this excellent CD.
Bonus points for including in the CD packaging all of the lyrics as well as previously unreleased photos of the band. But you have to wonder who was offering the band fashion advice in the photo on the inside back cover!
All in all, a great CD from a great band. Grade: 5 (the highest grade available in Latvian school – for those who might not know!).
(Editor’s note: This article orginally appeared on SVEIKS.com.)
Dziesmu izlase #2, 1985-1987
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