Right after his first full length, a “live” album called Kirka keikalla, was released this second album of Kiril “Kirka” Babitzin simply called Kirka. It was an album of studio recordings but it wasn’t actually an studio album. It was a compilation of his earlier recordings that were originally released as 45s between 1967 and 1969. So if you’re not a format purist and accept only these quite scarce 45s, this is your choice to get the good ones. The sound quality of this album is pretty ok compared to some other Scandia releases from the same period.
The albums starts with the breakthrough song of Kirka career, “Hetki lyö”, originally released in 1967. It’s a cover of “Beat the clock”, written by Richard Gottehrer and Jonathan Stroll and released by the US pop rock group The McCoys in 1967. It’s more rock and at the same time more funk than the original and somehow always gets people moving whenever it’s playing. Next one is a funky country track “Okolona river bottom band”, a cover of Bobbie Gentry’s original from 1968. “Kellon soiton kuulla saan” (literally “I can hear the bell toll”) is a cover of “No help from me”, the b-side track from the biggest selling hit “Green tambourine” of the US psychedelic pop rock band The Lemon Pipers, written by their headman, Ivan Browne. Originally it was released in 1967, Kirka recorded this almost the same sounding version a year later. Next to mention is “Pitkän tien pää” (literally “End of the long road”). A pretty good cover of the 1969 original “Spinning wheel” by Blood, Sweat & Tears. it has hard drums, nice horns and all, but sadly no break. There’s however two tracks over the others on this one. “Yksinäisyys kolkuttaa” (literally “loneliness is knocking”), a cover of Nancy Sinatra’s “Happy” from 1969, written by Lee Hazlewood. It’s a funky uptempo groover and in my opinion, it’s even better than the original. The wailing organ solo of Esko Linnavalli in the middle of the song is really amazing and reminds me of the Alan Hawkshaw stuff. In this album is also included four songs from the Jörn Donner movie 69, “Alku kaiken kauniin”, “Igor”, “Mr. wonderful” and “Voin haaveesi täyttää”.
In an interview Kirka tells that Jörn Donner was making a movie at that time and needed the music for it. So he rushed into the Scandia office and told that he needed a singer, a good one, and he knew Scandia had one. So Donner picked up Kirka to sing the soundtrack songs that were first released on a four track 45 ep and later on Kirka’s self titled debut studio album. Kirka also tells that Donner already had in mind some songs made by Claes af Geijerstam that were already recorded in Sweden and he wanted Kirka to sing them in Finnish.
So Kirka did sing his raw vocals to these four tracks and the rest is history. Included in these four songs is the toughest track on the album, an uptempo funk track called “Igor”. It starts with an open break and soon the bass joins in. In the middle there’s a solo that sounds much like sitar and therefore “Igor” has been labeled widely as a psychedelic sitar funk track. But it’s actually not a sitar, it’a a regular guitar with really loose strings and they just made it sound like a sitar. Innovative huh? Jörn Donner also made an international release of his movie and he wanted an international version of the soundtrack too. So he took the same four soundtrack songs sung this time in English by the Swedish rock singer Tommy Körberg. And there was included of course “Igor the dog”. But that’s another story and I’ll tell you about it later. Nowadays Kirka album is quite hard to find and not that cheap. But it’s still an original and beats easily those youtube ripped mp3’s people seem to be playing in bboy jams these days.
Okolona river bottom band
Kellon soiton kuulla saan
Pitkän tien pää