vs_baronin (vs_baronin) wrote,

Опять хвастаюсь: биография «Круиза» на английском моего авторства

В январе 2002 года мне позвонил покойный ныне Михаил Сигалов и сообщил, что немецкая фирма Repertoire Records, с которой он якобы был дружен, планирует переиздание альбома «Kruiz» – того самого, с красной звездой. За посуленные деньги я написал нижеприведенный текст. Переиздание не состоялось, и вряд ли смерть Михаила была тому причиной – скорее, ему просто был для кого-то нужна биография группы на английском, ну а я сдуру просто выступил в роли литературного негра.

Данный текст был отредактирован в 2004 году ginger_mood. По мнению некоторых товарищей, этот текст писал будто бы и нерусский автор.

Все! Вот и текст:

It’s often said that rock’n’roll is the art of coincidence. If so, there was no greater coincidence in history of rock music, then almost year-by-year synchronization of worldwide raising and spreading of most extreme in the terms of speed and hard riffing – for that era, of course – forms of 80’s Heavy Metal (yes, I mean Speed Metal and Thrash Metal here!) and some crucial political events in the life of then-Soviet Union. Well, you’re right: I talk about those almost-mad years of Perestroika and Glastnost in then-USSR. Russian homemade rock’n’roll and, most especially, Heavy Metal was that “Soundtrack for Perestroika” in all its direct and indirect forms. Loved by ones, hated by others, Perestroika and Heavy Metal were almost synonyms for millions and millions Soviet citizens – and not only for the young “rockers” and “metallists”, all that street heroes of the era.

And without a doubt, then-Heavy / Speed Metal trio Kruiz (Cruise) was on the forefront of all music chonicles in 1987–1990. Being well-known long before the rise of “heavy-metallism” (as the form of inderect mass protest of the young Soviet generation), Kruiz have surpassed all stylistic boundaries in the minds of homebased music lovers. One knows and loves Kruiz as a happy bunch of “heavy pop” hitmakers, due to the nature of their songwriting in 1981–1985, but most of others talk about three True Metal Warriors from 1986–1990. Never a text-oriented band in a Russian rock tradition, Kruiz in their Heavy Metal years was a bunch of ambassadors from outer space... the space of western heavy rock, to be precise.

But every great rock band that matters had its own very humble start. There’s no difference with Kruiz: first, there was no band. Just a boy named Valeri Gaina, who was born in Moldova and learned to play accordion in nearby music school. And he played it damn well – he often used to be a winner of various young talents contests. But one day in 1970 Valeri’s big brother, Alexander, started to learn to play guitar and Valeri decided to follow his footsteps. But there were no 6-strings guitars on offer in Moldova those years, so until 1973 aspiring young musician played Russian traditional 7-string. He started his way to rock’n’roll covering songs of The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin.

Back in 1973 16-years-old Valeri decided to be a professional musician, so he became a student of orchestral conductor’s faculty of Tiraspol music college. But for the long hours young guitar prodigy worked on his own style, self-based on countless solos of Hendrix, Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page and his all-time hero, Deep Purple’s Ritchie Blackmore. And, as Valeri pointed recently, “I was far more interested in working on my own ideas, than in copying those of Western guitar stars. I became guitar virtuoso for the sole need – to be absolutely free in expression of my own individual thoughts and style”.

The first steps on semiprofessional stage followed pretty soon: in 1975 Valeri debuted as bass player for Cordial band in Tiraspol, but soon occupated its lead guitarist position. This band also included bass player Alexander Kirnitski and drummer Vsevolod Korolyuk, both of whom worked with Valeri for 10 consecutive years. A year later Cordial made its way to Surgut city in Siberia, where band transformed into Magistral ensemble and turned fully professional. Almost four years of hard concert tours all over Siberia and Russian Far East gave Magistral’s musiciants many good business contacts, and Spring 1980 one Matvei Anichkin, then-manager of Molodye Golosa (The Young Voices) ensemble from Volgograd invited Valeri, Alexander and Vsevolod to work with this band. Well, Matvei got plans to form “second line-up”, or just “experimental (rock) group” (the very term “rock group” was forbidden in USSR back then) with those three young musicians. Valeri suggested with the name Kruiz – after all those long concert “cruises” in Siberia, and “experimental group” line-up was completed with lead vocalist Alexander Monin and keyboard player, singer and principial songwriter Sergei Sarychev, both from Molodye Golosa. Matvei, naturally, became Kruiz’ manager. The band immediately started to work on its own song material, and very first rehearsals and demo tapes have lead to crucial decision – Molodye Golosa disbanded, and Kruiz became a professional working rock group in his own right.

Truly mammoth demo tape of professional studio quality was recorded autumn 1980–spring 1981; it contained no less than 17 songs with total running time about 90 minutes! It wasn’t possible to issue this recordings in any vinyl formats that time, so demo tape transformed into “tape-recorder album” (quite unusual term for any Western consumer, but standart name for such Soviet artifacts until about 1989) – or even to 2 or 3 “albums” due to its great length. Even now it’s easy to understand why almost all the songs became truly underground hits all over former USSR – Kruiz’ songs sounded very fresh and unusual for Soviet rock stage. The band played hard’n’heavy with great poppy feel, songs were quite funny and have unique light feeling due to Alexander Monin vocal delivery, but the main course of those recording was its stylistic diversity. There were out-and-out heavy rockers as mid-tempo “Cruise” (band’s signature tune), fast and furious “Red Book” and anti-war song “There Are Madmen” but also real pop-hits “Music Of Neva River” and “Humming-Top” (the second one became Sergei Sarychev greatest hit and... mark of young generation’s bad taste for official press those years), great ballads “Mirror River” (Sarychev’s solo piano / vocal tour de force) and “This Is My Work (And What Can I Do)” and even pseudo-progressive heavy hit “Greatest Secret” about E.T.I. in fact. And there was a great heavy guitar sound even in poppiest songs – signature sound of Valeri’s Les Paul Custom ‘62.

Live shows were nothing short of triumph also – the first one was played in Kharkov September 1981 together with Estonian heavy-blues band Magnetic Band. More than 8 000 persons occupied 5 000 seats in city’s Sport Palace! Negative reaction in official press was guaranteed (especially Soviet Culture newspaper), but those were the days when worst official point of view gave any pop and rock artist enormous popularity – and finally, late Autumn 1981 Kruiz’ “album” caught the ears of Moscow music lovers. Most poppiest songs (especially “Humming-Top”) became hottest hits at Moscow discotheques and next at discos all over USSR.

Kruiz played its first Moscow shows March–early April 1982. The band played together with many foolish “support acts” (i.e. pointless MOR / cabaret artists), but positive shock among rock lovers was imminent. On April 18th Kruiz played almost two-hours spectacular show (on famous underground festival with such great bands as Avtograf and Voskresenie) together with then 14-years-old future pop star Vladimir Presnyakov jr. as guest second vocalist on two songs. This show was recorded, and such a “live bootleg” had quite a wide circulation.

October 1982 gave a first change in Kruiz’ line-up: Sergei Sarychev decided to start his own disco-metal (!) band Alfa. His replacement was second guitar player Grigori Bezuglyi – so Kruiz became very first professional Soviet band with twin guitar sound. Nevertheless, about two months later keyboard player Vladimir Kapustin (ex-Rock-Sentyabr) from Cherepovets city was added to line-up. May 1983 Alexander Kirnitski and Vsevolod Korolyuk also left the band, and they were replaced by bass player Oleg Kuzmichiov (later of Monte-Cristo) and experienced drummer Nikolai Chunusov (ex-Araks and Krug). This line-up immediately recorded not so heavy sounded romantic “tape-recorder mini-album” (about 35 minutes long) “Flight On Montgolfier” (July 1983), which became quite popular and finally was re-issued on CD in mid-90’s. Three old hits (“Humming-Top”, “Music Of Neva River” and “Greatest Secret”) were re-recorded with this line-up too, and they were issued by the only state record company Melodiya Records in greatest secrecy almost two years later.

Spring 1984 Kruiz’ was reformed in almost classic line-up (Gaina / Krinitski / Sarychev / Monin / Chunusov), but 1984 was the worst year for rock music in USSR (even the term “rock music” became strictly forbidden), so the worst possible disaster lied ahead. After series of very successful shows in Moscow’s Luzhniki Sport Palace in June the band was claimed “fascists and extremists” by communist officials, and “officially disbanded”, due to the rules of Ministry Of Culture. So it’s easy to understand, why the rest of 1984 and the beginning of 1985 there was no information on Kruiz...

But Valeri Gaina was a real rocker at heart, and he had a great manager Matvei Anichkin. So the pair decided to rebuild Kruiz around power-trio model (Gaina, Krinitski and returning Korolyuk), with lead vocal contributions from all musicians. At the end of 1984 Kruiz worked in secrecy on the third “tape-recorder album”, which materialized under the pseudo-Japanese name of “KiKoGaVVa” in March 1985, and contains almost pure new wave, very light-sounded material – the band modelled sound of The Police in fact. It wasn’t a success, and these songs never found its way to Kruiz’ live set. Nevertheless, Valeri and Matvei still tried and tried to find more suitable image of the band, as well as prolific lead vocalist – on some “closed” (i.e. secret) gigs around Moscow in 1985 Kruiz tried to adopt outrageous glam rock image a la Mötley Crüe and Vadim Malikov (later of Monte-Cristo too) as their frontman. At the moment it seemed like Kruiz would be staying in such a cul-de-sac forever, but on the edge of 1985 / 1986 Perestroika was on its earliest rise, and although Heavy Metal still claimed as “fascist music” in Soviet medias the time for HMR breakthrough all over former USSR has finally arrived. So Kruiz found itself on the crest of the wave again.

There was, of course, more. Not-so-radical political changes in everyday’s life allowed Valeri to tight sound and image of the band – as great record / videos collector, Valeri always knew all the latest trends in Western heavy rock, as well as Western heavy rockers stage looks. And the early Spring 1986 they were four: Valeri finally decided to share lead vocal duties alongside his ferocious guitar playing, Alexander Kirnitski still stayed in Kruiz’ ranks, drumstool was occupied by wild virtuoso Sergei Efimov (he played in one of fluctuated Sergei Sarychev’s Alfa line-ups in 1985) and there was keyboard player Sergei Astrashkov, who was replaced by keyboarder / rhythm guitarist Vladimir Gorbanev (ex-Avgust) very soon. New material, composed by Valeri and his wife / lyricist Olga Chaiko was nothing like anything played on Soviet stage before – very tight and highly melodic true speed metal, very much instrumental-oriented. Common (for those years) whispers “they even won’t dare to play this on stage” were blown away after sensational show on Panorama-86 pseudo-secret rock festival in Moscow at the very beginning of May, almost fully consisted of new speed metal songs. “Kruiz: this band seemes like Ritchie Blackmore meets Cozy Powell and tries to sing in Russian” – that was a verdict from forward-looking music journalists. Nothing strange that Kruiz played before 30 000-plus audience together with Avtograf, Bravo and Vladimir Kuzmin’s Dinamik on famous Account No. 904 show in Moscow on May 30th, raising funds for victims of Chernobyl’s disaster. Valeri’s lenghtly guitar solo (from “Introduction” instrumental) even appeared in TV version of this show, and his mad guitar technics as well as guitarists’ “Heavy Metal-warrior” image were the very first examples of Heavy Metal as music phenomena for general Soviet public.

Recording of fourth “tape-recorder album” became a next logical step for new Kruiz. It took place June 1986 at Moscow’s rehearsal room of fellow prog-rockers Dialog using a lot of Dialog’s equipment. Actually, there was no band at those studio sessions – just Sergei Efimov and Valeri, who not only played guitar and sings, but also supplied bass and keyboards parts as well as co-produced all the material. Nevertheless the resulting 8 songs which were “released” on tape around August under the name “Rock Forever!” became a kind of real Heavy Metal manifesto for music lovers all over USSR. In retrospect it should be said that this full version of album was and still is the greatest Russian-singing Heavy Metal recording even now. It’s not about quality of production – but sheer energy and agression combined with over-the-top musicianship and highest quality of songs themselves propelled Kruiz to the national Heavy Metal stardom.

“Rock Forever!”, armed with such catchy tunes as “Distant Light”, “It Happened So” and “Mirage”, Heavy Metal hymn in the form of “Rock Forever!” itself as well as 10-minutes epic “Pilgrim” with its Blackmore-like lenghtly eerie guitar / keyboards introduction really spread faster than a wildfire among metal lovers, so Kruiz became a force hardly possible to ignore. Late October band appeared on prestigious Rock-Revue ‘86 mini-festival in Moscow (still with Kirnitski and Gorbanev), and then debuted on Soviet State Radio at 45 Munutes In Sunday Studio radio show at November with “Mirage”. At the tail end of 1986 Sergei Efimov left Kruiz to play with Vladimir Kuzmin in Dinamik, so Valeri invited a real Metal Warrior in person of highly animated bassist / keyboard player Fyodor Vasiliev (ex-Chiornyi Kofe), keyboard virtuoso Alexander Dronov (ex-Labyrinth and Stalker, and later of Valkyria fame) and 20-years-old ferocious drummer Maxim Udalov (ex-Initial and Chiornyi Kofe, and later of Aria and Valkyria), but this line-up lasted only one gig in January 1987. Almost immediately Sergei returned to Kruiz and “power trio dream” at last came true. The truly great band – “classic Kruiz” in the eyes of many – finally arrived.

1987 was a year of true Kruiz’s national triumph. All their songs from “Rock Forever!” (minus, sadly, title track) were in the hot rotation at extremely popular Youth Channel radio show since January, and finally Melodiya Records gave in. “Rock Forever!” was issued September as “Kruiz-1” LP, without “dangerous” “Rock Forever!” track again. But it really didn’t matter – only in a first year after LP release more than 2 700 000 copies (!) were sold. That year Kruiz played about 130 shows in all USSR states, and this time band’s stage show used Ted Nugent-like stage antics and “Metal Warriors” costumes, modeled on Judas Priest / Iron Maiden ones. Monstrous concert activity culminated with unforgettable show at Rock-Panorama ‘87 festival in Moscow’s Luzninki Small Sports Arena at December 12th, some moments of which immortalised in compilation video released on SoRec label February 1988. An information about incredible trio leaked to the West, right management agreements were made and finally Kruiz played his first foreign show at Rockafeller Center in Oslo, Norway early spring 1988. Sensational 18-dates Spain tour followed, as well as (then West) Germany and Finland small club tours, and Kruiz opened for Uriah Heep in then-East Berlin. Band appeared at InterChance Festival in Moscow, where musicians presented not only new thrash-hinted furious songs, but also a new Valeri’s guitar – Washburn Stephen’s Extended Cutaway. It was where executives from WEA Germany saw Kruiz for the first time.

All those European mini-tours as well as Moscow show were a great culture shock for both western metal fans and businessmen, so WEA Germany offered contract. A full-length English-singing LP called simply Kruiz was recorded in Germany May-June 1988, right between tour dates. But, hey, I hope you’ll find more information about it somewhere in this booklet...

Just after LP / CD release December 1988 Kruiz started another German tour, this time with fellow Moscow power-thrashers Shah as support act. Good press support was guaranteed (there were more than 50 articles on Kruiz in German music press only), so success was quite stable – about 1 000–1 500 persons came to see each show of “red stars of Thrash”. Kruiz’s live show (together with Shah’s) even appeared at RTV’s Metal-show Mosh Special (hosted by Sabina Klaasen of Holy Moses) on February 5th, 1989, as well as continuous interview with all three musicians. Almost all 1989 was spend in Germany, but last concerts were played with drummer A.C. from Running Wild – Sergei Efimov returned to Russia due to his personal problems. Musicians dreamed about triumphant return to their homecountry listeners, but such a triumph never materialised. 1989 was the year of enormous rock crisis in USSR, because new third-rate home-made poppy stage just poisoned ears and souls of general public here. The very words “Heavy Metal” became synonym of bad taste once again.

So it seemed like the end of the road for Kruiz. Trio (with returning Efimov) played its official farewell show December 4th, 1989 in Moscow at next Interchance Festival. It was claimed that Kruiz would concentrate on foreign market – talks about second Western album started to circulate, but they turned just to two new tracks “Culture Shock” and “Killer Logic”, presented on those “farewell” show. Next, due to prestigious at the time contacts with US labels A&R’s Valeri decided to put Kruiz on hold and started US-oriented side project Gain A (later renamed to just Gain), whose music represented, as one of critics said, “worst sides of Mötley Crüe and Manowar at a time”. In fact Gain was a Soviet Metal supergroup – Valeri itself, vocalist Vladimir Bazhin (Tyazhiolyi Den), top ace session drummer Andrei Shatunovski and bass virtuoso Alexander “Alec” Granovski (Master), soon replaced by Alexander “Shprot” Krivtsov (ex-Zemlyane, West Express and Red Dawn). Full album “Crazy Russian Life” (originally high quality demo tape destined for US labels’ A&R’s) was recorded. But it was quite pointless due to the nature of its material, including tasteless re-work of Kruiz’ “Pilgrim” song, and it materialised five years later and on Russian market only. It seemed like last “real Kruiz” (together with Gain) live show took place on the second Monsters Of Rock USSR Festival May 1990 in Moscow. Almost immediately Valeri Gaina made its way to California where in the mid-90’s he worked with his own bands Karma and Insulated. Valeri established his own MG Sonic promotion company in 1997, and later worked with number of US bands (most notably Flambookey) and some South Corea melodic metal artists. Sergei Efimov had many false starts with his own “Metal Rhythm & Blues” bands Volki and Udar (where he appeared as lead vocalist too) until mid-90’s, then made its way to USA too, but soon returned. He’s Moscow Representative for DW Drums now. Fyodor Vasiliev became a quite successful music businessman, also he still plays bass on some occassions with his old mates from Chiornyi Kofe. And, sadly to say, today’s Russian band called Kruiz (modelled around 1981–1983 real Kruiz line-ups and without strong management) has nothing in common with classic Valeri Gaina’s Speed Metal trio of 1987–1990.

The great band has gone, but not forgotten. Although “Rock Forever!” or “Kruiz-1” haven’t reissued on CD in Russia (only some self-made CD-R’s are in circulation), those recordings became a pure cult among new, end-90’s Russian Heavy Metal community. There’s nothing strange – traditions of 80’s real Metal are strong in Russia as ever, and Valeri Gaina still is our real guitar hero of that glorious epoch, together with Avtograf’s Alexander Sitkovetski. And now you can know almost everything about energy and writing and playing possibilities of premier Russian Metal trio of 80’s. Maybe WEA’s “Kruiz” hasn’t displayed all the concert dynamics of the band – but it came dangerously close. And now your ears and your soul will come dangerously close to the metal show live situation too…

Official KRUIZ discography:
1. “Humming-Top”
(7" EP, Melodiya Records, 1985) – 1983 recording.
2. “Kruiz-1” (LP, Melodiya Records, 1987) – 1986 “Rock Forever!” tape minus title track.
3. “Kruiz” (LP / CD, WEA, 1988).
Two Kruiz’ tracks (“Culture Shock” and “Killer Logic”) appeared on “Monsters Of Rock USSR” sampler (1992, BIZ / Alien Records – 2 LP, Mausoleum Records – CD).

Official GAIN discography:
1. “Crazy Russian Life”
(PolyGram Russia, 1995) – 1990 recording plus the same Kruiz’ bonus tracks “Culture Shock” and “Killer Logic”.

© 2002 Vsevolod Baronin.

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