was born in Siberia as the project of Yegor Letov and the early
lo-fi cassettes were entirely played and sung by him.
Totalitarizm (1987) and Myshelovka (1987) are emblematic of this early anarcho-punk phase.
For his anti-establishment
lyrics, he was interned twice in a mental hospital.
In 1988 he was finally able to assemble a band. They recorded in the space of three days three albums:
Vsyo idyot po planu/ Everything Is Going According To Plan,
Tak zakalyalas' stal/ That's How The Steel Was Tempered and
Boyevoy stimul/ Battle Stimulus,
each a collection of very brief angry songs.
Punk songs like Poganaya Molodyozh/ Filthy Youth (1985) revealed Letov as an impeccable pupil of the Ramones, and the
Farfisa-driven surf-rock of Sledy na Snegu/ Footprints in the Snow (1987)
showed that he could fit even in the garage-rock revival of the time.
Another influence was Jonathan Richman in
reggae-tinged and poppy ditties like
Zoopark (1987) and Na Nashikh Glazakh/ Before our Very Eyes.
Psych-rock influenced the distorted Optimizm (1987), while the
emphatic singalong Vse Idet po Planu/ Everything is Going According To Plan (1988) was the closest thing to a folk song.
The following year they released six albums:
Pesni Radosti i Schast'ya/ Songs of Joy and Happiness, with a new version of Vse Idet po Planu,
Zdorovo I Vechno/ Famously and Eternally,
and Russkoe Pole Eksperimentov/ Russian Field of Experiments.
Armageddon-pops contains virulent rants like
Vintovka/ Rifle, in the style of
catchy British pub-rock of the late 1970s,
and it's Letov's most vitriolic work.
Armageddon-pops sounds like Barry McGuire's
Eve of Destruction after the destruction.
Kak Listovka is the punk version of a requiem.
Uzhas I Moral'nyy Terror/ Horror And Moral Terror erupts all the desperation of hardcore punk-rock.
Zdorovo I Vechno contains the
distorted visceral punk-rock of Ya ne Veryu v Anarkhiyu/ I don't Believe in Anarchy and Mertvyy Sezon/ Dead season, the
supersonic dadaistic rigmarole Vso Sovsem Ne To, the
industrial voodoo dance Zdorovo I Vechno,
the David Peel-esque street chant Moya Oborona and the catchy singalong Prazdnik Konchilsya/ The Holidays are Over,
and the grotesquely operatic hymns Zagovor/ Conspiracy and Vso Kak u Lyudey/ Everything is like People.
Russkoe Pole Eksperimentov contains the delirious
14-minute rant of Russkoe Pole Experimentov/ Russian Field of Experiments over chaotic garage-rock dissonance.
They disbanded just when the Soviet regime was collapsing.
Instruktsiya po Vyzhivaniyu/ Instructions For Survival (1990) was their
last album, while various compilations collected live classics like Detskiy Mir and Beri Shinel.
Letov started the garage-rock trio Egor I Opizdenevshie which released
Pryg-Skok (1990), with the Devo-esque bolero Pro Mishutku and
the ten-minute threnody Pryg-Skok,
and Sto Let Odinochestva/ One Hundred Years of Solitude (1993).
Grazhdanskaya Oborona reformed in 1995 and released
Solntsevorot/ Solstice (1997), recorded in 1995 and reissued as
Lunnyy Perevorot/ Lunar upheaval (2005), which contains the folkish
Dembelskaya, the anthemic Nechego Teryat/ Nothing to Lose and the solemn organ-driven Zabota u nas Takaya,
Nevynosimaya Lyogkost' Bytiya/ The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1997), recorded in 1996 and later re-recorded as Snosnaya Tyazhest' Nebytiya (2005), with the feverish sermon of Pobeda/ Victory and
the 14-minute psych-rock suite Nevynosimaya Logkost' Bytiya/ The Unbearable Lightness of Being.
The band went on a hiatus again following the accidental death
of guitarist Evgeny Pyanov.
Zvezdopad/ Starfall (2002) is a collection of covers.
Svoboda/Freedom (2002) contains the street anthem Svoboda/Freedom.
Their last albums adapted a much fuller sound:
Dolgaya Schastlivaya Zhizn/ A Long Happy Life (2004),
with the stately and poppy Long Happy Life and especially
Bez Menya/ Without Me (that weds a baroque melody and metal-grade guitar noise),
Reanimatsiya/ Resuscitation (2005), with the poppy and jangling Nebo Kak Kofe/ The Sky is like Coffee, the funereal dirge Reanimatsiya
and the eight-minute Ramones-ian Ubivat/ Kill (possibly their most "mainstream" albumfor better and for worse),
Zachem Snyatsya Sny?/ What are Dreams Dreamt for? (2007),
with the lullabies Osen and Kroliki/ Rabbits,
the romantic folk-rock elegy Siyaniye/ Shine and especially the
thundering and anthemic Slava Psikhonavtam/ Glory to the Psychonauts,
a fitting swan song.
Yegor Letov died in 2008 from a heart attack.
Throughout his career Letov displayed a stunning melodic gift, a master of the singalong.