More from the vinyl graveyard
For reasons unknown, I have developed an interest in synth pop of the late eighties and this had caused me to venture forth and dig up all sorts of obscure gems. Nothing rare or expensive, of course, just downright obscure and “White Slave” (ьЕлАЯ РАбыня) by Magdalene (магдалина) is, as such albums go, nothing if not obscure.
“White Slave” appears to be the only album that Magdalene made and, if the copyright date of 1991 is correct, it was released two years after the fall of the Soviet Union but was still on the state Melodiya label. The cover is simply a joy for retro fashionistas with our Magdalene decked out me for the nightclub in a silver dress and some sort of sparkly shawl.
Is the album actually any good though? Actually it is. Magdalene has a strong voice that easily carries the rather mundane songs on side one of this album. Stylistically, the dancefloor of the time seems to have been a minor motivation for the album but, on side one at least, there are other slower songs that fit better into the dramatic rock style that was popular in Europe at the time. Think Bonnie Tyler without the cigarettes if you want a sonic comparison and the rock historians out there might even hear some pronounced Alannah Myles references in послЕдняя расплата.
Side two is the side that counts though with the killer song of the album – the self-titled магдалина – literally tearing up the dance floor as Magdalene sets out to entrap the hearts and feet of the listener with a killer synth riff and maximised passion.
I suppose the odd thing about this album is that it doesn’t sound Russian and it is perhaps the overwhelming reliance on the , then fashionable, synthesiser and drum machine combo that makes it sound much like European, or even American, records of the time. This does not, however, detract from confidence and power of Magdalene’s voice that is, for me, the best reason for tracking this album down.