Here's one for the "exotic punk" fanatics - a great starting point if you're ready to dive into the early Bulgarian punk scene! AON Productions (Bulgaria) and Break Even Records (Canada) brought us this magnificent 7" compilation of rare, mostly unreleased tracks back in 1999, and it's limited to 500 copies!
The collection kicks off with a solid rager by one of Bulgaria's first punk bands, DDT, who only released two demos throughout the '80s. Next up is a really incredible live track by REVIEW - by far my favorite song on this comp. REVIEW was fronted by a woman named Milena Slavova, who supposedly became a sort of alternative "popstar" later on in Bulgaria. Online articles that I have read described her as the Bulgarian NINA HAGEN!? Their track, "UFO," is one of those comp tracks that made me exclaim, "Oh my God, I have to track down everything related to this band!" (which I sadly still have not managed to do - little help?) Amazing, melodic, interesting, upbeat punk with excellent dynamic vocals. On to U.Z.Z.U from the small town of Gabrovo. Their demo got the John Peel treatment on the BBC in the early 90's, and this track is a satire on a traditional patriotic Bulgarian song. Next up is a total smasher by Bulgarian punk legends, CONTROL. They were the first Bulgarian punk band to release vinyl (I'll post in someday!), and really shook things up in the Bulgarian underground beginning in late '80s. Their sound here is fast and aggressive, but nuanced with driving keyboard lines and catchy choruses. Back again with DDT, this time presenting a very rough recording - but if you can tolerate the rawness, you will appreciate the great hooks of a solid, mid-paced punk tune. NEW GENERATION offers up a more dancey new wave track, the best of all their material that I've heard. Adept musicianship and a great recording almost put this track in a different category to my ears, but the liner notes identify NEW GENERATION as an influential part of the early Bulgarian punk movement. The compilation fades out with a sample of some old traditional Bulgarian song.
I'm certainly no expert, so I really can't school you on the history on Bulgarian punk beyond the info on the records and tapes I've collected, but I found a link to an excellent scene report written by Ivailo Tonchev (of AON Productions) for Maximum Rocknroll (I think). Check it out here!
Funny side note: I found this record at a punk record store in or near Orange County (the name of it escapes me...it didn't even have a sign out front and it was in a very non-descript building). I bought a nice stack of stuff that day, but this was one of the records I was most excited about finding. When I got home I pulled the record out of it's sleeve and the center labels were for a DEEP WOUND "American Style" EP (demo tracks i think). Shit - they stuffed the wrong record in the sleeve! So I sadly put it to the back of the listening pile and played everything else that I bought. At the end of the stack I thought - what the hell, I like DEEP WOUND - it's not obscure punk from behind the Iron Curtain, but i didn't pay 5 bucks for nothing. I threw it on and it was not DEEP WOUND after all, but the BULGARIAN ARCHIVES 1985-1990! It made it even more exciting, and made my record shopping day feel so much more triumphant - saving the best for last without even knowing it! I don't know if all copies have the wrong labels, but if you're lucky enough to find one of these and notice DEEP WOUND labels on it, don't be deterred! Also, anyone out there have the DEEP WOUND "American Style" 7" with BULGARIAN ARCHIVES labels? Just curious.