La Minor – Oboroty

La Minor - Oboroty  

Katalognummer: EBM014
Release: 15.05.2009

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Lyrics | Photos

Street Chanson and Gangster Swing from St. Petersburg

 There is something like the La Minor sound: warm and authentic with live acoustic instruments; no overdubs or mini disc fibbing. This band you recognise instantly and they create their own atmosphere. They are real. And they have charm.

Founded in St. Petersburg in 2000, La Minor has been on tour in Europe several times and has played in many small clubs and bars as well as in bigger halls and on festivals since. They have since gathered a devoted fan base.

La Minor’s music invites you to a glass of wine as well as to dance. The Bayan (the Russian button accordion) pushes, the saxophone flatters and singer Slava Shalygin tells his lyrical gangster stories: backyard songs about bad boys, love, passion, alcohol and prison.

La Minor comes from St. Petersburg, but do have a partiality for Odessa. Indeed the alleys and bars of these two cities are a bit similar with their European charm. La Minor plays so-called street chanson, Russian folk, jazz and klezmer (Odessa style). They resurrect part of the atmosphere of the Odessa of the 20’s to 40’s. Their songs sound like musical detective stories about little rascals and tragic loves – joyful and melancholic at the same time. Thieves and police men, whores and undercover agents crowd the urban underworld of La Minor songs. The gentle-tender maternal nature of the Russian language makes the tough stories touching and timeless.

In a country, where every fifth man has been to prison once, jail and camp songs are part of the folklore. In White Acacia a mother waits for her son, who is in a prison camp. The classic Murka is about a gang of crooks, whose beautiful proud gang princess Murka snitched the boys for fur and diamonds and paid for that with her life. A big subject for La Minor are unhappy and passionate love and, of course, jealousy.  The Girl in the cotton dress had already lept onto the cult CD Russendisko by writer and DJ Wladimir Kaminer. In this hit – here on Oboroty again in a new crispy version – the mum of the beloved one prefers a decent son-in-law and not a drummer in a jazz band.

Oboroty can have several meanings in Russian: La Minor’s singer and lyricist Slava Shalygin had in mind the volume of alcohol, the speed of records (33/45/78) as well as the rotation of the circle of life, which turns continuously.

Slava’s hero is the Soviet underground singer Arkadi Severny. His style, not quite appropriately named Russian chanson, stems from the Soviet subculture of the 70’s. You could only officially get this music after the implosion of the Soviet Union. Before, this was the privilege of the few happy owners of mysterious samizdat tapes and cassettes which were copied in the underground. La Minor now develops Severny’s ideas further into their own repertoire with sophisticated arrangements and deadpan delivery. Russki Chanson has become an annoying genre in Russia and pounds out of every taxi there these days. Refusing to wear golden chains and add corniness to their music, La Minor are the black and thus likeable sheep of the Russian prison and camp chanson. Therefore the band performs rather in rock clubs and doesn’t get aired on Radio Chanson in Moscow. They call their music ‘underground chanson with a human face’. Deliberately, La Minor chooses for their interpretations mostly no standards, but rather not so well-known pearls of folk poetry. These old gangster and jail songs – so-called Blatnyak – had also been present in Soviet times. Officially banned, these songs were the real folklore, as sung by the people at private parties or played on guitar in the parks. Especially in Odessa, the colourful port city and melting pot for many nationalities, with its long Jewish tradition, these songs were sung in pubs as well as amongst intellectuals and artists. The proud tragedies and wild adventures of the sailors and thefts, combined with the infamous Odessa humour, are the material La Minor carves their world from: a world of dodgy port bars where smug gangster Casanovas dance tango with their ladies and drink wine and play cards with their pals.

Folk music rarely ever sounded so tight and cool. You might call it Dirty Folk. This makes La Minor popular not only with a rock and indie audience, but also amongst the folk fans and intellectuals. And when the musicians of La Minor, dressed in vests and flat caps, enter the stage of your club, you know that tonight it’s time to dance and indulge. Those little criminal chansons get you with a lot of soul and feeling, but also with a wink – sometimes pleasantly jazzy, sometimes with speedy polka. La Minor means high spirits and melancholy at the same time.





INTRO (Intro)





TIHIY VECHER (Quiet evening)





TANGO TSVETOV (Flower Tango)










BROS ZHALET NE STANU (Never mind, no regrets)





DAYTE HODU PAROHODU (Let the ship sail)





NOCH (Night)





DEVUSHKA V PLATIE IZ SITSA (The girl in the cotton dress)















MURKA (Murka)





VASILKI (Basket flowers)


Video: DEVUSHKA V PLATIE IZ SITSA (The girl in the cotton dress) 02:00