Kickin’ It to The Soviet 60s Beat

Akkord original
Album cover of the Soviet quartet ‘Akkord’ Image Source

What does бабушка think of those new dance moves?…What do people call them now? The ‘rocks’ and ‘twists’ and all sorts of hip-shaking dance moves were unfamiliar to the older generation in the Soviet Union (USSR). By 1968 they would be introduced to rock-and-roll for the first time, via smuggled and copied records from countries beyond the ‘iron curtain’. Blogger Caroline Ritchey writes about the ways that pro-western youngsters got a hold of such music in her post ‘The Original Hipsters’.  However that is not to say that the Soviet Union didn’t have its own thriving music scene before the influx of western rock-and-roll. On the website ’17 Moments in Soviet History’, the authors/editors showcase a variety of music created within the USSR in the 1960s, including the following from the popular quartet ‘Akkord’ (circa 1966): 

The tune is very ‘old-timey’, but at the same time it’s no where close to a stringent Soviet marching song. It’s similarity to an American singing group at the time was striking to me.

On the other hand, the Soviets did play around with some interesting sounds, effects and new beats, like in ‘Grandma, Teach Me to Dance (1962)’. Does that sound like a folk-style song? Maybe a mashup of modern and traditional music at one?  According to ’17 Moments in Soviet History’, the describe it as a”mix of dixieland and charleston music, so alien [or unfamiliar] to the Soviet canon”. All I can say for certain is that the background beat reminds me a bit of the ‘Super Mario Brothers’ theme song, and that it was interesting to compare this side of Soviet music with the others.

By the 1960s, people were listening to all sorts of music in the USSR, and a lot of it wasn’t smuggled into the country either. Though the Soviets were a bit slow to adopt western music trends, they left a remarkable music legacy of their own within their borders. The two samples of Soviet music above show how much difference can be seen in music tastes among the population, without the direct influence of foreign sounds.


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7 thoughts on “Kickin’ It to The Soviet 60s Beat

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  1. I appreciate how you connected the topic to Caroline’s post on the stilyagi last week. It was only a matter of time until the older generation eased into Western music. Akkord not only had a popular sound, but visually, the video you shared is very similar to American television performances at the time. Nice post!


  2. I really enjoy that you focused on music, that is a really important cultural indicator on the status of Russia at the time. I also like that you drew inspiration from a classmates blog, that was really cool to see the links created between topics. The popular quartet ‘Akkord’s’ video was really interesting to watch. I find it interesting with was a male and female group, but the females were put “below” the males on the platform, a small signal of gender norms of the time.


  3. “Grandma Teach Me To Dance” does remind me a bit of Super Mario Brothers! Good ear! I agree with Caroline – focusing on the “sounds of the sixties” reveals so many convergences and divergences with Western pop culture of the same era. Wonder how many grannies traded in their knitting needles for the Charleston (which would have been scandalous in the 20s, but in the 60s???)


  4. I love the video that you included in your post, I think it shows how both the music and style of the USSR were becoming increasingly more modern/Western during this time! I agree with your statement that people were not only listening to a variety of different types of music in the USSR, but that it was music that was being produced by Soviets, for Soviets. Despite the fact that they were influenced by more Western style during this time period, their own artists adopted this style and made it their own; leading to the transformation of even Soviet rock bands, such as “Time Machine.”


  5. This is a very interesting topic to write about for this era of Russian history. I’m curious to see how much western music trends influenced music in Russia during this period. I also really liked the video and audio sources you provided, they added a lot to the post.


  6. This is a really cool topic to blog about! I love how you incorporated the video into your post because it allowed us to connect with their era of music for a few minutes. Their music started progressing into a more Western style, but I feel like this was bound to happen because of the way technology was advancing. Really cool post to read!


  7. I loved how this post focused on the music of the Soviet 60s, because normally when people think of classic 60s rock revolution, they do not think of Soviet rock. Classic rock is typically thought of as a western cultural revolution, not a staple of Russian culture. I think it is fascinating that the Soviets embraced this western music style. I also loved the music that you included, great post!


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