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Kukuruza

Endless Story – 1998 (Gadfly)

Reviewed by Mark "Brink" Brinkman

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CDs by Kukuruza

Kukuruza is self described as a "Russian-country-bluegrass band." Celebrating their 12th anniversary together, the disc is half sung in Russian and English. The best part by far is the fine voice of lead singer Irina Surina. She has a wonderful depth and soul bringing tremendous emotion to the music. Her rendition of the traditional Russian tune "Iskhodila Mladeshenka" is wonderful. She also does several American hits such as "Crazy." The problem is the standard was set so high by the original, it is almost impossible to create an equal. She falls short.

The band never really sounds comfortable doing on American tunes. The players are solid and one can tell these are accomplished musicians, but at times the arrangements are questionable. Their rendition of the old fiddle tune "Red Haired Boy" begins by sounding like they are going to tear into the Who's "Pinball Wizard"and ends as if they all had way too much caffiene.

While containing extremely good cuts ("Beyond the Rocky Mountain" and "If I Know Where"), it pulls itself down with ineffective ones (John Hartford's "Vamp In The Middle" and "Dried Fig"). Kukuruza tries to be all things to all listeners.