One of the drivers for the Russian transformation was the conflicted view that the Soviet leaders had toward Judaism. As Ottens and Rubin note,
"Stalin’s cultural ideologues planned to deploy the music of the Yiddish-speaking Jews of the Soviet Union as a building block for the new Soviet music, whereas the Jewish religion with its traditional way of life was damned as counter-revolutionary."
This scarcity of these recordings make the Shalom Comrade! album that more special. At 24 tracks, it contains over 10 percent of the entire recorded output of Soviet Jewish music of that period and covers a range of thematic topics the show integration and tensions of Soviet Jews. This first sample (from Rubins website) is a Yiddish art song composed by B. Bergolt, lyrics, and Moses Milner (score). The song is performed by Misha (Mikhail) Aleksandrovich, who was born in Latvia, lived in Britain, and after World War II became one of Soviet Russia's most popular performers. Here's a translation of the lyric from the album liner notes.
Last night grandma suddenly remembered how grandpa came back from the Civil War front. Her big tears shone happily as she embraced him, danced and cried. That’s how they partied, into the deep of night, the tables broke under all the honey-cake and wine. A glass and another glass, higher and higher in the hand, to spite the enemies and to the joy of our country. Many years pass by with peace everywhere, and an old lady sits with her grandchildren around her and tells of the Great Fatherland War [World War II] and what a holiday it was when grandpa came back in victory.Misha Aleksandrovich / Di bobe hot zikh dermont (Grandmother Recalled)(M: Moses Milner; T: B. Bergolts)
This second sample was, as Ottens and Rubin note, "belonged to the handful of warhorses which every Soviet interpreter of Yiddish song had to have in his or her repertoire." This version, performed by Zinovii Shulman, was the one that popularized the song.
Oh dear! Where do you get flour to make varnitshkes? [A plainZinovii Shulman / Varnitshkes
Without yeast or salt, or pepper or fat. Where do you get a board
to roll out the varnitshkes? Where do you find a stove to cook
the varnitshkes? And where do you find a lad to eat the
varnitshkes? Without yeast or salt, or pepper or fat. Where do
you find one, where?