By: Inna Nemchenko

Both my parents were born in 50s which means their youth took place in the 70s. Both my folks were music lovers and had vinyl LPs at home. In Soviet Russia most LPs were from Bulgarian factories or sovietic label Melodiya re-issues. Now they are usually told to be of poorer quality than US/UK records. Foreign bands’ names were translated into Russian.

The first vinyl my mom bought was, surprisingly, the collection of death marches. When I asked her about the reason she mentioned simple curiosity and the respect for such kind of music. Might it come from her music school studies? Anyway she is still a lover of the modern classical genre. Mom was the one to introduce me to Vangelis, Keiko Matsui, Maurice Ravel. I feel the same traits now as I listen to another Erased Tapes or Late Night Tales compilation.

Mom has been a primary source of music in our family, buying CD reissues of vinyl albums.  Manfred Mann’s Earth Band’s Angel Station album is a big memory from my early age linked with mom. I still have the track ‘Angels At My Gate’ in my routine playlist.

Also my mama has always been quite proficient in rock. In fact she charmed my dad with her knowledge and taste for Pink Floyd. Family stories about visiting each other to check out new records is 100% in my parents’ case. My dad has always been a tech-geek, with cool earphones and recorders.

My dad is an international class cyclist. He changed direction into training and organising events in his 30s, but being a young sportsman he travelled a lot. Journeys brought new things, including new music. Dad is supposed to be one of the first Dark Side of the Moon LP owners in the USSR. He still listens to Pink Floyd at biggest volume. While listening to it, he always tells about the album and the year of release. In his student years he joined a musical band. He was a drummer and still amazes me with his sense of rhythm.

Unfortunately, when it was suspected he had cancer, dad sold most of his collection. The diagnosis was never proven and I have a big box of cassettes as a souvenir from the past. These are big magnetic tapes called “bobina” in Russian slang. I don’t have a suitable recorder for them but hope to get it someday for checking out Creedence Clearwater Revival and Deep Purple in that format.

I have an elder sister who was my best music dealer in school years. Kids swap records and this is how The Matrix soundtrack, The Prodigy and Fatboy Slim appeared in our collection. We also used to record a lot of music from the radio. The peculiar fact is that my sis has always been more into heavier sounds, while I have been massively influenced by Britpop (and Radiohead) music. Though I appreciated Damnation by Opeth so much when she recommended it to me!

Getting older, I turned to the retro side and there is no surprise in it – I take swing dancing lessons and listening to 40s swing or blues has become my habit. The opposite process also takes place. Dad is impressed by And So I Watch You From Afar, though ‘Set Guitars to Kill’ sounded too heavy for him. But Echoes and Signals were very ok with his tastes. Mom once put on my earphones for curiosity and checked out KoRn’s ‘Kiss’. In her words, the voice was quite unpleasant but the music sounded lovely.

Me and my sis are both proficient in foreign languages – English and French. That is a skill that soviet kids were not so good at. So the favour “What is the song about? Translate it for me” is very common for our family. And makes my buddies damn surprised. 😀

I am often told I have a good music taste. This even offended me somehow. Why do people emphasize it like I have no other good character or appearance traits? Now it feels much more pleasant to hear though. Guess why? Because it first started with my family. 🙂

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