The return of Red Cowboy...
By: Gina Kay Singerhouse
(This article was printed in the March / April 2015 issue of Strictly Country Magazine.)
Back in 2005, we introduced you to a new band from Moscow, Russia, named Red Cowboy when they released their self-entitled debut album on AF Records. At the time, the music industry had dubbed this band the next Diamond Rio. However, I did not agree with the majority of the music industry.
Red Cowboy’s debut album was pure unadulterated crap. It lacked imagination, vocal talents, melodies and artistic definition. Since their release, we have been comparing bad albums to this one. We even use it as well as Red Cowboy as a reference on our ratings scale.
My article on Red Cowboy stated “On what day did God create Red Cowboy, and couldn’t he have rested on that day as well.” After releasing my article, I had heard that Red Cowboy was quite upset with it.
Therefore I was shocked when I had received a package in the mail containing Red Cowboy’s new album Back In Red. But I was more shocked as the band accepted my interview request. Here is what happened...
To refresh your memory, the band Red Cowboy was founded by Daniil, Nash, Ivan, Tam and Sasha. As teenagers, the five men worked at Moscow’s infamous Gorky Park, an amusement park that draws large numbers of visitors, both foreign and local. The band was known more for their upscale Russian rock sound, however, after seeing a live performance by Garth Brooks, the band changed their format to a more progressive country.
The band soon became a very popular exhibit at the park. It was after one of their performances that they met Mark Lutes, an inspiring record promoter. Mark was vacationing in Moscow at the time. Lutes told the band that they should make their way to the United States and try their hand in Nashville.
The band believed in what Mark told them and began their journey to the United States. Because the band did not have the funds to make it to the States, they ended up performing gigs to earn their way. Thus, telling people that they were ‘on tour.’
While on the road, the band ran into a vast array of bad luck when three of the band members passed away. Perhaps they had a run in with a leprechaun in Ireland where all of the bad luck began. Their keyboardist, Sasha, passed away in a bizarre kilt accident. They replaced him with Ivan, also known as Spots. Like many Russians, Spots was a drinker. While in Canada, Spots saw a sign that said “Drink Canada Dry.” He tried and without prevail, he died of an overdose.
Spots was replaced by Valadi. Valadi was a connoisseur of Russian vodka. While in Boston, Valadi died of an overdose of American vodka. He was only twenty-four. At the age of seventeen, Vasillii joined the group to replace keyboardist Valadi.
While in New York, they met up with Mark Lutes. Lutes was so fascinated by the group that he started his own record company called AF Records. Nearly after a year of performing in the eastern portion of the United States, Lutes took Red Cowboy to Nashville. It was in Nashville, that the group recorded their self-entitled debut album.
The album featured ten incredibly awful songs. These songs included “Moscow Or Bust,” “Gorky Park,” “Party Like Kieve,” “Vodka For A Buck,” “Help Me Rosa,” “Holiday In The U.K.,” “On Our Way To The U.S.A,” and their signature song “The Ballad of Red Cowboy” which I dubbed “The Ballad of Death.”
According to Red Cowboy, their debut album was welcomed with open arms as reviewers and radio personnel found it “...a refreshing taste of Europe.” I found this album filled with an annoying piece of garbage that they call music.
Red Cowboy spent the rest of 2005 and well into 2006, on tour with a wide variety of country music entertainers. Many of these performances were held at various festivals.
“Festivals, I like.” tells lead guitarist Tam. “I dig them. Lots of booze and drinks they have. I love drinking.”
The boys of Red Cowboy believed that they had got over their bad luck as their album started to rise on National Charts. However, on July 4, 2007, the band lost their current keyboardist - Vasillii.
“He was only nineteen.” shares drummer, Nash. “We played at, how do you say, Independence of country day in big state of Texas. Vas [Vasillii] loved fireworks, the boom and bang. We play on stage. One moment he was there. The next, gone. The only thing that was left were his hands on the keyboard. We didn’t hear anything. We just saw parts of him. The Chuck Norris guys [police], yeah police - said they could not find the rest of him.”
The police report on Vasillii states “better left unsolved.” Red Cowboy returned to Moscow to bury the young lad and to find a replacement keyboardist.
What they found was a contract to be judges of a music competition reality show. For the past six years Tam, Daniil and Nash hosted the ever popular television show Golos, where they judge contestants on their ability to perform cover songs of more notable songs in American Country and British Rock.
I find this interesting. How can three untalented people who only spent less than two years in the music industry, judge what is considered talent when they don’t have talent of their own? The winner of the competition would join Red Cowboy on tour across the U.S.S.R. and surrounding countries.
After an extensive tour across their home country and Europe, the band decided to return to the United States to record another album.
“Our first album did well.” tells Tam. “We come to record album again in Nashville. Many new songs we have on album.”
However, the band lacked band members.
“We could not do songs like before.” shares Tam. “We no people.”
Advised by Mark Lutes, Red Cowboy looked for a steel guitar player, to bring more of a country flare to the group. They found their first steel guitarist in Russia. Kuzma joined the band to replace the previous keyboardists.
Again, Red Cowboy made their way to the US via Europe, England, Ireland and Canada. It was while they were in Ireland, they performed at the Blarney Pub. After the show, the band was treated to an authentic Irish dinner of roasted potatoes, green beans, cabbage and corned beef served with a cold glass of Guinness. The next day, they found Kuzma’s body blown to pieces, from flatulence.
The band replaced Kuzma with his brother Petya, who had learned how to play the steel guitar from a video game. Although, Petya was not very fluent in playing the steel, he proved to be an unwise decision.
While in Niagara Falls, Canada, the band chose to do a photo shoot with the infamous falls as a backdrop for their new album. While setting up for the photograph, Petya fell over the edge into a barrel that just happened to be sitting on one of the rock cliffs. The barrel then went over the falls, never to be seen again.
“What are the chances of a barrel sitting below us?” asked Daniil. “That was a million and one shot! It could never happen like that again!”
“Well he always wanted to see the falls up close.” states Tam.
As the boys crossed the boarder into America they came upon a bar that plays country and western called The Barn Door. It was there that they found their newest steel guitar player Egor. In 2003, Egor moved to New York state from Bristol, Russia, a sub-burb of Moscow. At the time Egor was working for a local singer named Lurlene. Egor made a big influence as he and the rest of Red Cowboy hit it off.
Like so many years before, Red Cowboy eventually made it to Nashville and recorded their new album. On April 1st, Red Cowboy will release their new album, Back In Red. The album, if you call this an album, showcases exactly what I have been saying all along about this group - that they are incompetent of carrying a tune let alone performing a song.
The album opens with “Cruising The Volga River.” The lyrics of this song talk about love while the melody promotes a sense of war.
That same melody is also found in the second cut. The best part of “One Night In Moscow,” is the tambourine player who can really hit it.
“We found our - how do you say - drummer?” asks Tam.
“You ninny!” yells Nash. “I am drummer. You want percussionist!”
“Da, percussionist...” replies Tam. “We found him in Nashville. He turns out to be a distant cousin, twice removed!”
The album continues with “Remember Staligrad.” This song contains the same baseline melody as the previous two.
The only decent song on the album is found in the fourth cut. “Ode To Sasha” pays tribute to their original keyboardist.
“Sasha was the heart and soul of Red Cowboy.” tells Ivan. “We must pay tribute, da!”
If this is their idea of a tribute song for a dear friend, I would hate to be their friend. This song is a bumbling piece of a profound, half-baked, half-witted rip on someone they say they care about.
This imbecilic band includes two covers of two of the most notable songs in the music industry. Red Cowboy includes their version of the Beatles song “Back In The USSR.” You might think that this might be a sensible decision, however, the band tries to ‘countrified’ the song to the point that is sounds ghastly and scandalous. True Beatles fans would boycott this band to the brink of death if they heard this version.
The second song they try to do a cover of is Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.” In my twenty-two years in the music industry, I have heard some unacceptable versions of this classic song. However, this has to be the most shocking, terrifying and cruel attempt to pay tribute to Johnny Cash. Johnny and June Carter must be rolling in their graves. But then again, they were always humble to other entertainers.
However, I can not call this group entertainers. As I progress through the album, I find it heinous as to how they perform these songs.
The album continues with “Vodka, Vodka, Vodka.” This party atmospheric style song is an attempt to provoke people to shy away from their music. The melody is quite different then the first three songs on this album. However, the vocals consist of three guys screeching. I would rather hear the squeal of fingernails as they go across a black board, then listen to this song again!
Most substandard albums have at least one fairly decent song on them. I thought that just maybe “Three Kisses” might be that song. I was wrong. This song is a disastrous attempt of creating a love ballad. The melody is more of a dispassionate tune that rides the waves of sexually explicit lyrics. I thought that the three kisses were about the common Russian greeting of three kisses on the cheeks.
“Da! ‘Three Kisses’ is my prized song!” tells Ivan. “I wrote that. The three kisses are the three places that woman liked to be kissed.”
I can not see any country music radio station, let alone any station, even think about playing this song due to it’s sexual insinuation. Like the song before, this one is performed more of a shriek as the lead vocalist is screaming all the way through the song. Homer Simpson’s girlish scream mixed with the wail of a hungry infant sounds better than this.
The album closes with “The Red Square Dance.” I have no idea what the concept behind this song is. The song features a two-step pop melody. In the middle of the song Red Cowboy switches to a Country Rap style that makes this song sound quite ridiculous.
“Da, we include a dance song, no?” asks Ivan. “We see line dancing in New York and it looked fun. We do a song that everyone can dance too!”
Any person willing to try and dance to this song will look foolish. The only dance step that could even remotely go to this song would look like someone getting attacked by bees.
As demented as all of these songs have made me, one truly stands out to get me irate. The title track, “Back In Red,” contains a carbon copy of the legendary rock group AC DC’s “Back In Black” single. Red Cowboy slows down the melody slightly as they rearrange many of the lyrics to create their own piece of slop. I can not understand how a record label can allow this band to include an exact version of a more notable song. The evidence is so clear, that even a person who has never heard the song “Back In Black” could pick it out!
What’s more amazing is how fans have flocked to this band. Have country music fans become so deaf to artistry and originality that they need to celebrate mediocrity?
For some unknown reason, Red Cowboy includes a bonus cut on this abominable album. If you enjoy Christmas music as much as I do, then you will certainly prohibit the song “Christmas In Kieve.” Most Christmas songs contain an element to the season of love or Christian beliefs. This one, however, is infused with a sense of darkness that brings on an overwhelming feeling of depression and despair.
Sometimes an entertainer or group will learn from their first album to create a much better album in the future. It’s how music grows to become something of pure enjoyment. Sometimes entertainers are just born to create substandard albums. In my years of being in this industry, I have not heard of one entertainer or group to go from bad to worse, as Red Cowboy has.
Like their first, this album is a compound of pure unadulterated crap. They lack the skills to create, perform and bring forth a song that will touch the hearts of those who will listen. Their music is so manufactured that it lacks a heartbeat and has no pulse. No amount of CPR can bring this Frankenstein of an album to life. I only wish that the fans weren’t so brain washed to this style of country music.
I said it before and I’ll say it again - On what day did God create Red Cowboy, and couldn’t he have rested on that day too?
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