Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Seventies Suomi Sounds

I am just back from a couple of days in Stockholm - hello Stockholm! - where I managed to fit in a visit to the local branch of the excellent Bengans record store. While there I picked up a few albums by assorted Swedish hairy types from the early 1970s. They have all been added to the ever-growing pile of things I really must get round to listening to and sharing with you one day.

To tide you over for now, let's nip over to Finland for some rock music of similar vintage. This is something I came across in RadioShopen in the old town. The Finnish owner stocks an extensive collection of Finnish albums, most of them at Finnish prices unfortunately. But in the bargain bin I found "Nykyaikaa", the 1972 album by Kirka.

Kirka (real name Kirill Babitzin) was evidently a bit of a legendary figure on the Finnish music scene, starting in the 1960s with The Islanders before beginning a long and successful solo career. He died at the age of 56 in 2007.

I bought the album because I was intrigued by Kirka's choice of cover versions, which include Finnish language versions of "Tupelo Honey" and "Maggie May" amongst others. They aren't that great on the whole. The original material, on the other hand, is really rather good. Most of it was written or co-written by one Frank Robson, a British singer with the Finnish band Blues Section (with whom Kirka had cut a couple of singles back when he was still Kirill), and about half of it is in English. Here are two prime cuts.

"Whirlwind Nightmare" - Kirka

"The Old Woman" - Kirka

As a special bonus hree is one of the better cover versions. I am sure the old farts among you will immediately recognise that distinctive guitar riff, brought to you on this occasion by Hasse Walli (also of Blues Section).

"Kanelipuun Alla" - Kirka

In 1984 Kirka had the dubious honour of representing Finland in the Eurovision Song Contest. Having had a listen I think I'll stick to his early albums.


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