Cover Versions, Football, Hard-to-find, Peel Sessions

It’s great being Scottish

We’re top of our group, we’ve dumped the French twice and today we beat the Ukrainians 3-1. We are Scotland. We are magic. We are going to Euro 2008.

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Get your flat caps and clumpy shoes on and celebrate by dancing along to The Ukrainians folk-punk-polka versions of 4 Smiths tunes. The Ukrainians (the group not the football team) were formed as a side project to the Wedding Present. Guitarist Pete Solowka was of Ukrainian descent and when John Peel asked the Wedding Present if they’d like to do a session, the band recorded some traditional Eastern European folk music at the expense of their usual 100 mile an hour D-G-A strumalong. Truth be told, were it not for the Wedding Present connection, few people would have been all that interested. But thanks to this interest, Peel played the session over and over and the Ukranians went on tour. I saw them in Edinburgh (April 16th 1991) where the real Wedding Present played support and did an hours worth of brand new material. Then the Ukrainians came on and did their shouty punk-polka stuff.

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In 1993 the band released the Pizni ep, which featured 4 Smiths covers. They’re probably not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you like unusual cover versions or are one of those mental Smiths completists, these are for you. I like how the melodies still come through, even though I have no idea what they’re singing. Except I do really, cos I know every Smiths song back to front. And now I know how to say “when her Walkman started to melt” in Polish. Useful that.

Batyar (Bigmouth Strikes Again)

Koroleva Ne Polerma (The Queen Is Dead)

M’yaso-Ubivstvo (Meat Is Murder)

Spivaye Solovey (What Difference Does It Make)

Roll on Wednesday night and another 3 points. Surely every Scottish football fan has Georgia On My Mind. The Band‘s version is fucking sublime. A bit like oor fitba’ team.

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5 thoughts on “It’s great being Scottish”

  1. Thanks for The Ukranians Smiths covers. I’m a fan of both The Wedding Present and The Smiths and hadn’t come across this before and it is fab stuff. Cheers.

  2. sorry to be nitpicking, but…
    The Ukrainians sing in Ukrainian, not in Polish. These are two different languages, each used by over 40 mln people. Unfortunately, any Slavic languages are not that useful these days.
    Anyway, being Polish (I am) may not be so magic, but still – see you on Euro 2008 🙂 (do zobaczenia na Euro 2008)
    …and of course Euro 2012 which will take place in Poland/Ukraine.
    Thanks for the tracks – heard about them but never heard them before.

  3. Hello. I was original accordionist and co-songwriter of The Ukrainians full line up when seperate from The Wedding Present.
    When I co-wrote the Ukrainian words for The Queen is Dead, they weren’t exactly a translation. More of an abstract adaptation. So you dont really know what we were singing on that one. In fact the chorus goes “listen the Queen is NOT dead” “slukhay Koroleva NE pomerla”. For Meat is Murder the lyric “prykrasna korova moya” translates to “My beautiful cow”.

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