Stuffography 20th Century Texts

Medium

Тексты ХХ Века

20th Century Texts

Ãåëèêîí Ïëþñ 2001


Review

by Dzhon

Do you need this book? Let's approach this question through a sort of narrative decision-tree:

1) Do you own B.G.: Songs? YES or NO

If YES, go to Q #2.

If NO, then it really couldn't be easier. STOP. You need this book. Whatever quibbles one might have about it, it's the most complete collection of lyrics currently available, if you can't get your hands on a copy Songs. Granted, there's always 14, which remians a sublime Soviet soft-bound publishing wonder, but ol' Borya has written a whole lot since 1992, every bit of it interesting, and having 14, and only 14, just won't do.

2) Are you a huge fan of Lilith, Cabinet of Curiosities, and/or Psi? YES or NO

If NO go to Q # 3. If YES, then 20th Century Texts might come in handy, though "gift" copies of Psi already include the lyrics. These three albums alone, though, are a pretty thin pretext for plunking down the баксы for this book—especially since all the lyrics are readily available on PlanetAquarium—though it was enough of a justification for this Bodhisattva.

Also included are the lyrics for various uncollected recent songs such as "Skorbets" and "Afanasii Nikitin Boogie." Strange to say, lyrics for these hadn't made it to PlanetAquarium yet, last time I checked, so for the moment they're available here and only here, folks.

3) Are you particular about binding and presentation? YES or NO

If NO go to Q #4. IF YES, STOP here. Aesthetically the book doesn't have much to offer, and compared to Songs it's clearly being done on the cheap. The binding is Russian-book-stall-standard colored cardboard, the paper looks like ordinary Xerox paper, and the printing looks like it was done on an ink-jet that's running out of ink. It's no worse than the majority of books published for the Russian market, perhaps, but it has none of the nice design touches of Songs with its dust jacket, arabesque headers and footers, and eye-pleasing layout.

4) You're looking for something above and beyond the bare texts. YES or NO.

If YES, STOP here. 20th Century Texts has nothing to offer. The only photo is the frontespiece (B.G. the Pirate King!), and it doesn't have the valuable album-by-album notes that appear at the end of Songs. It does have a discography, but, by anyone's standards, it's an oddly incomplete one, covering only the basic studio and live albums in haphazard order (Aroks i Shtyor and All the Brothers are Sisters, for instance, appear near the end) and including only very, very basic publishing and musician info.

If NO, STOP here anyway, as you're probably a completist and will buy absolutely anything involving the intials B.G., including Burrito Grandes, Big Gulps and Bull Gonads. We, the Bodhisattvas, understand your sickness and are here to offer you our love and unconditional support.

You can order the book here at This Site in No Way Affiliated with Bodhisattvas of Bablyon (so we're not responsible if anything goes awry). Note that if you happen to live in Russia and can pay in rubles, it's less than half the dollar price. Llar-a-hlar.

Some other miscellaneous notes:

1) Includes Territory as if it were a real album, instead of the rather muddled compilation album it really is. Territory merits inclusion, but Prayer and Fasting, At the Taganka and Black Rose don't?? Give me a break. This is the kind of thing calculated to annoy the Bodhisattvas, though it was clearly done at Boris's behest.

2) The book is available in ordinary and "gift" editions. The gift edition is the same except that it includes a little 2001 календарчик with a truly alarming picture of B.G. on it (This is a new manifestation we've never seen before—an I-just-spent-midsummer's-night-sleeping-under-a-bridge-over-the-Moika-and-boy-does-my-head-hurt look) and the book is (allegedly) signed by the man himself. Since it was only a couple bucks more, I opted for the signed edition to see what happened, and it did indeed come adorned with the initials B.G., although a with a little practice I found I could soon write B.G. in a pretty much indistinguishable manner. I say save the 50 rubles (or $5) and write Б.Г. yourself on the title page, if so inclined.


UPDATE: December 2002

Reliable word has it that Songs is back in print (with lyrics for the albums released sine '97, but missing the BG's notes about the earlier albums). This being case, the above decision tree is largely irrelevant: If Songs is available in any way, shape or form, then Songs is the way to go.