Thursday, June 18, 2015

Where's the Party? Looking Over Your Shoulder...

For teens, there are probably few words that inspire more boredom than some variation on "official government youth organization." Mix that complete lack of cool with the drab totalitarianism of the old Soviet state and you have Komsomol, an abbreviation of the Russian phrase kommunisticheskii soyuz molodyozhi and probably guaranteed to be the biggest group of killjoys in the known universe as the youth arm of the Communist Party of the U.S.S.R.

In 1985, the grim gray brigade published a list of 38 Western musical acts that shouldn't be played at dance clubs because of various crimes against the state they either advocated or regularly committed.

Some of them, of course, are hilarious. English synth-poppers Depeche Mode make the naughty list for "punk" and "violence," even though their breakthrough hit was the why-can't-we-all-get-along plaintive "People Are People." DM writer Martin Gore might agree with Komsomol, as he thinks the song not as subtle as he'd prefer and the band doesn't play it live anymore. The art-rock 10cc are pegged under the name "Ten CC" for "neofascism," which is as good an explanation as any for "The Things We Do for Love" and the post-band Godley and Creme song "Cry."

The Talking Heads are accused of feeding the myth of the Soviet military threat -- in case they "asked themselves, well, how did we get here?" in reference to the list. The Ramones are accused of the crime of being punks, to which they pled, "Onetwothreefour guilty!" Van Halen is guilty of anti-Soviet propaganda, even though lead singer David Lee Roth demurred that he did not feel anti-Soviet.

Some artists were actually pleased to make the list. The Komsomol lists Bohannon, the performing name of disco and R&B producer/drummer/writer Hamilton Frederick Bohannon, at #22 on their bad-people list for "eroticism," which the organization considers a crime because it has a rather hazy understanding of one of the major purposes of R&B. But that #22 is far higher than anything Bohannon ever did on the U.S. pop charts, as he cracked the Billboard Hot 100 only twice and the R&B Top 10 only once. So he's got that going for him as Russian premier Vladimir Putin seems highly interested in his own trip back in time to the Swingin' Soviet 70s.

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