March 23, 2003

air-kissing the ground

Hey, all. I'm back, safe, happy and not yet as sleepy as I ought by rights to be. Just sent an email to some friends about my music-related experiences on the second half of the trip; let's start with that, and I'll get to the other stuff shortly...

*CDs in Russia are virtually all bootlegs--even the ones sold in great big nicely-lit stores on Nevsky Prospekt in St. Petersburg--and generally cost 60-70 rubles a disc, meaning around $2. The CDs themselves are professionally pressed rather than CD-Rs, but the artwork is usually color-photocopied, curiously. Some enterprising company has been pressing greatest-hits packages of a whole lot of bands with exactly the same design as ABBA's Forever Gold--the crown, the gold-on-gold artwork, etc. I would've bought Black Sabbath Forever Gold, but the guy at the underground CD stand claimed he didn't have change for a 500-ruble note.

*For about 10 rubles more per disc, one can get MP3 CDs, with eight or ten hours' worth of high-quality MP3s. I bought a few things I figured I probably couldn't get back home, including one with the first ten Nurse With Wound albums (yes, you read that right--this is in the equivalent of, say, Sam Goody). They had the entire Merzbox as a three-disc set, and I am now kicking myself for not having dropped seven bucks for it.

*Russian MTV is totally freaky: half "Jenny from the Bloc"-type imports from the U.S. and U.K., half horrible gangsta-folk--guys with short hair, Ocean's Eleven suits and acoustic guitars whose videos are all about shooting people and looking tough and rich. One was a live clip; the kids in the front row were pumping their fists like they were in the front row of a hip-hop show, but NOT IN TIME TO THE MUSIC. Or at the same time as each other. At all.

*In the Helsinki airport, at a somewhat more legitimate CD stand, I saw the Bangles' new album Doll Revolution, which I didn't even know was coming out. I thought "hey, wouldn't it be cool if that title meant they were covering Elvis Costello's 'Tear Off Your Own Head'?" Then I turned it over and saw that it did, so I bought it. On a first listen, that's the best song on it, but I'm just glad they're back.

Posted by Douglas at March 23, 2003 11:14 PM

...the first ten NWW albums on one CD...the future is here and it RULES

Posted by: John Darn1elle on March 26, 2003 12:23 PM
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