Latvian rock group Pērkons were one of the most popular, as well as significant, rock groups during the 1980s. Their songs provided much of the soundtrack for the Latvian Reawakening during the late 1980s, and even though the group fell foul of the Soviet authorities on more than one occasion, their popularity could not be diminished. Many of their songs, particularly their earliest songs, had a raw energy and unpolished roughness that provided a marked contrast with the polished, if occasionally bland, Latvian popular music of the early 1980s. Pērkons also used the poetry of a younger generation of Latvian poets for their lyrics – poets like Māris Melgalvs and Klāvs Elsbergs. Even today, many of their songs still resonate – songs like ‘Balāde par gulbi’, ‘Zaļā dziesma’, ‘Mēs pārtiekam viens no otra’, among many others, are still beloved and sung today.
Throughout its history, Pērkons has been led by keyboardist, composer, and occasional vocalist Juris Kulakovs. The group also includes vocalists Ieva Akurātere (who would later become one of the most recognizable voices of the Latvian Singing Revolution), Juris Sējāns (bass, vocals), Leons Sējāns (lead guitar), Raimonds Bartaševics (vocals), as well as opera singer and current Latvian Minister of Culture Nauris Puntulis on vocals.
Though the group has remained active in the decades since, their last proper album was released in 1991. Also, when their original albums were released on three best of CDs, to get everything to fit on one CD, a number of the songs on the original album were dropped. To collect some of these missing songs, as well as to properly release some songs recorded after 1991, Pērkons released the collection entitled 7os no rīta in 2018. The set gathers songs both old and new, covering their many decades of activity.
One of the more curious omissions from the CD that covered their earliest years was the song ‘Kukurūza’, which, as the title might indicate, is a song about corn. Strange because this song remains one of their most popular. The song, with lyrics by Klāvs Elsbergs, is perhaps a oblique parody of Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev’s decree that more corn should be grown in the Soviet Union (after a visit to the United States). Or perhaps it is a warped romanticized view of live on the collective farm or kolhozs. Either way, it is a Pērkons trademark – a song that is both catchy and, at the same time, a slight dig at the Soviet regime of the time.
Also likely appearing on CD for the first time is their early 1990s song ‘Kāzas’, a beautiful and sad song about the end of a relationship, with its repeated refrain ‘tās nav mūsu kāzas’ (that is not our wedding), and it shows a more lyrical and emotional facet of the group. Another welcome inclusion is the brief but tender ‘Vakars klāt’, a delicate lullaby that often closed out the group’s concerts.
Still, some of these hidden gems might have been left hidden, for example ‘Vēršu (horoskopa) dziesma”, a bizarrely distorted song that includes melodies from Georges Bizet’s opera Carmen while Kulakovs raps somewhat incomprehensibly. It is unclear if the song is meant to be satire or parody, perhaps more of an experiment that did not quite work out.
Unfortunately, the CD package doesn’t include any information about the songs. It would have been interesting to know when they were recorded, or even perhaps a few thoughts about the songs (many of Pērkons’ songs had a deeper meaning that may not be immediately clear to listeners). It also not a complete collection of unreleased tracks – there are still songs from the original albums yet to be released on CD – songs such as ‘Sastrēgumstunda’ and ‘Viss rudens’ are unfortunately omitted.
7os no rīta collects a number of gems from the many decades of Pērkons’ recording history. From their earlier rough, almost punk songs, to their later polished and intricately arranged songs, from the deeply serious to the absurd, if not outright silly, Pērkons is a band that have long been ingrained in the fabric of Latvian rock music. Though one does wish that they would record a proper album of new material, this collection is a welcome gathering of many of their otherwise unreleased songs, and a testament to the talent of the band as well as leader Juris Kulakovs.
For further information, please visit the Pērkons Facebook page.
7os no rīta
- Fly (Lidojums)
- 18. Novembris
- Es gaidu brīnumu
- Kā pasakā
- Vēršu (horoskopa) dziesma
- 7os no rīta
- Taureņi ir brīvi
- Meitene (lili)
- C. M. Bellam epistule nr. 82 (Ulla)
- Vakars klāt
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