Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Peter Hnatiuk Discography

Yes, I'm featuring another Ukrainian-English performer from the V-Records label (except for the three albums that weren't on V-Records). My first exposure to Peter's records was as a child. We would make visits to my Ukrainian-only speaking grandmother, and I'd sit and play her records for hours, looking for something interesting to hear. The first Peter Hnatiuk album I ever heard was the "You Gotta Be Kidding" album. I fondly remember the songs "Sweet Violets" and "Rye Whiskey", but I was also confused by the amount of canned laughter and applause that was used and repeated on the album. I always wondered (and to some degree still do) wonder where they stole it from.

Fortunately, Peter sings songs in both Ukrainian and English. Some of the best examples are on his album "If I Was Prime Minister". While transferring his albums (and to my knowledge, I own all of them), I decided to start at the very beginning of his recording career, just to see how things evolved right up to his last recorded effort in 1985.

The bulk of Peter's best work, including the incredibly absurd album covers occurred in what is arguably the core of V-Records' best years. After recording 11 albums, Peter curiously left V-Records in 1968 and his output slowed down over the next two decades. He passed away in 1994 at 60 years old. There is a very poorly written biography/obituary on Peter at this website. According to whoever wrote it, Peter retired from professional recording in the year 19990, just over 17000 years after his death. Great job, guys.

Anyway, let's dive into the albums. There's 16 of them to cover along with a few notable others...

Tommy Buick Presents a Ukrainian Wedding

01 - Wedding Presentation Melody
02 - Syva Kobyla Kolomayka
03 - E Shumyt E Hudyt
05 - Good Husband
06 - Ye-Byk Doma
07 - The Last Drink
08 - Woman Driver
09 - Bride's Waltz
10 - Gail's Polka
11 - White Gardenia Polka
12 - Wedding March

Hey! This is a Tommy Buick album! What gives??? 

This is the second album released in V-Records' extensive catalog. Peter's distinct voice is featured on most of the songs here. He essentially got his start being a singer for Tommy Buick's band. You will notice two more Tommy Buick albums in this discography, along with some of Peter's albums being backed by Tommy Buick's band.

Since I got this album sealed, it was transferred digitally for it's first spin. The audio quality is exactly what you would expect from a 1960s Winnipeg record label releasing their second album.

Ukrainian Folk & Love Songs Vol 1

01 - Lovers Waltz
03 - Chornay Orel
04 - Kohut
05 - Rich Girl Poor Girl
06 - Cymbaly Polka
07 - The Unlucky Lover
08 - Black Eyes
09 - Cher Wona Rooza
10 - Cossack Love Song
11 - Loom Hom Too Hom
12 - Hania's Polka

This album sounds very different from Peter in his "classic" years, but you have to start somewhere. Each side end with a song played on the cymbaly (also known as a dulcimer) which Peter was extremely talented at playing. Also, according to my notes, there is a bad tape dropout on side 2 although I can't remember where. This was pressed onto the vinyl and not due to any error in my transfer.

Ukrainian Folk & Love Songs Vol 2

02 - Ukrainian Heel & Toe
03 - Holubka
04 - The Young Lovers
05 - My Neighbours
06 - Zahodochka
07 - Between The Mountains
08 - The Gay Dancers
09 - Balamoota
10 - Orphan Lament
11 - At Sundown
12 - Maidens Lament

More of the same as volume one except with no cymbaly instrumentals at the end of each side

Tommy Buick Presents A Ukrainian Wedding Vol. 2

01 - Brides Presentation
02 - The Working Villager
03 - Courting Problem
05 - Be Good To My Daughter
06 - Rolisia Polka
07 - Farmers Polka
08 - Tommy's Polka
09 - Bev's Polka
10 - Mom's Waltz
11 - Mazurka Waltz
12 - Valley River Polka

Another Tommy Buick album with Peter singing on the majority of it. Ukrainian weddings are quite a common theme on many of these records, and I wish I could say I've attended one. They're probably a very drunken good time!

Light-hearted Ukrainian Favourites 

01 - Yebik No. 1
02 - Yebik No. 2
04 - Under The Cherry Tree
05 - Toomba Toomba
06 - Cymbaly Kolomayka
07 - Kolomayka No. 1
09 - Arkon
10 - Mushroom Song
11 - Beside The Woodlands
12 - Sunday Polka

Peter is starting to come into his form on this album with "light-hearted" (read: not so serious) Ukrainian songs. Tommy Buick's band backs Pete's vocals. The album is pretty good!

Strangely, there are two different covers for this album. I'm not sure if the real girl complained about her picture being used on the cover, or if K Records complained about V-Records stealing their artwork which I've provided below. I'd love to know the story behind this!

10 Little Bottles

01 - 10 Little Bottles
02 - Wishing & Thinking
03 - A Hospital Checkup
04 - Marusia
05 - Country Polka
06 - Unfaithful Husband
08 - Pete's Kolomayka 2
09 - The Widow Song
10 - Under The Oak
11 - The Old Mill
12 - Mother's Lament

Tommy Buick again backs Peter on this album. I find the albums with Tommy Buick have a distinct sound from the albums where Pete has his own band. This is another good album, and it sounds like Peter is playing quite a bit of cymbaly on this one.

Horeevka Party

01 - Pete's Horeevka Song Part 1
02 - Lay That Pistol Down Pete
03 - Pete's Horeevka Song Part 2
04 - Ten Gallon Stephen
05 - I Gotta Travel On
06 - Out Of Our Mind
07 - I'm Sick, Sober & Sorry
10 - She Thinks I Still Care
12 - Night Wind Waltz

Pronounced "Hor-you-ko", which is the Ukrainian word for whiskey. This is the first album that I would consider to be "classic" Peter Hnatiuk, where his sound really became his. There's a lot of drunken dialogue on Side 1, so if you speak English only, this is probably not the best one for you to dive into. Someone is singing backup with Peter, and there's no credits on the album that tell me who it is.

I Wish I Was Single Again

01 - Six More Miles
02 - When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold
03 - Wreck On The Highway
04 - I Wish I Was Single Again
06 - No One Will Ever Know
07 - I Still Miss Someone
08 - Mansion On The Hill
09 - Please Release Me
10 - Goodnite Irene
11 - Cheating A Sin
12 - Yellow Bird

We've got another one with Tommy Buick. These are all old country songs that are sung in Peter's unique style. Despite the amusing cover, I personally think this is one of Peter's weakest albums, but that may be from my inability to understand Ukrainian.

Tommy Buick Goes Ukrainian Western with Peter Hnatiuk

01 - Springtime In The Rockies
02 - The Birds Are Singing
03 - Songbirds Are Singing In Heaven
04 - Carmel By The Sea
05 - Fraulein
07 - The Prisoner's Song
08 - I'm So Lonesome Today
09 - At Mail Call Today
10 - Crying Heart Blues
11 - Are You Teasing Me
12 - Sweeter Than The Flower

And now for one last album with Tommy Buick. This is pretty much a continuation of the last album, featuring more covers of old country songs.

You Gotta Be Kidding

02 - Marriage Experiences
04 - Marriage - Old Style
05 - Wedding Presentation
06 - A Visit To The Doctor
07 - Deck of Card - Ukrainian Style
08 - Army Days Pete Style
09 - Army Doctor Verse Pete
10 - Variety Kolomayka
11 - Back From The Army Pete
12 - Seven Years - With The Wrong Woman
13 - Pete The Politician

This was my first exposure to Pete's music. There is a lot of dialog on here and the canned laughter is absolutely terrible, but there's a couple of really good songs on here. I have no clue where the canned laughter was taken from, but some of the other albums in Pete's discography suggest an old sound effects record.

Don't Get Married Son

01 - The Happy Widow
02 - Dom-Nee-Tay-Ish-When
03 - Bingo Crazy
04 - Clementine
06 - Poor Farmer
07 - Extra Gang Days
08 - No Beer In Heaven
09 - Orange Blossom Kolomayka
10 - Veen Ne Mee Milay
11 - Chomoo
12 - Don't Get Married Son

What a magnificent album cover! In my opinion, this album represents the definitive Peter Hnatiuk sound. This and the next two entries make this the ultimate trilogy of classic Pete. The songs on here are excellent and the band is fantastic.

If I Were Prime Minister

01 - The Covered Wagon
02 - Mary and Bill
03 - Pompeye
04 - Please Re-Grease Me
05 - Mayoo Dohi
06 - Nema-Nema-Diwchini
07 - If I Was Prime Minister
08 - Taye Yoho Nema
09 - Off To Gilbert Plains With Brew
11 - Married To Hard Labour

This is arguably Pete's best album. There is lots of English on it, the songs are all catchy (including the absolutely bizarre cover of "Popeye The Sailor Man"), and it has the classic Pete sound. I have no clue who the other guy is singing on this as there are absolutely no credits for any of the other performers. I know for certain it's not his brother Nick. If I ever find out who it is, I'll be sure to update this spot.

Peter seems to have mastered a new instruments for the recording of this album... a bicycle horn! It shows up in the most absurd spots, sounds ridiculous, and it works extremely well. I can listen to this album all day and never lose my smile.

Hell's A Poppin

01 - Welcoming Kolomayka
02 - Censored Kolomayka
05 - Ukrainian Roulette
06 - Hopper - Grass
07 - Unknown Polka
08 - Mule Tren
09 - Intro Polka
10 - Tam Doornay
11 - Samsyo Petrolovich
12 - The Haunted Lover's House
13 - Confused Kolomayka
14 - How Dry I Am
15 - Too Fat Polka
16 - Dead End Polka

Peter goes out with a bang for his last V-Records effort. It sounds like the entire band got completely shit-faced drunk, performed with the tape machine running non-stop, and edited the hell out of it afterwards. There's sound effects that are poorly spliced in, obvious cuts of dialogue, and self-censoring where they remembered to do so. The bicycle horn even comes along for the ride. I can't help but wonder if the session for this recording was the reason that Peter never recorded again for V-Records, or if the reasons were completely non-related. I can only guess this was one hell of a crazy recording session!

Every time I listen to this album, the more I enjoy it due to how absurdly bizarre it is. I don't think V-Records ever released anything else that comes close to being this crazy. If you like really strange records, you'll enjoy this one.

Given all the edits on this album, I would love to hear an uncensored copy (if one exists) of this session. If anyone has the master tapes for this particular V-Record, please let me know!

Peter Hnatiuk Goes To a Ukrainian Wedding

01 - Bride Leaving Her Home
02 - Bride's Blessing
03 - Marriage Vows
04 - Arriving At Home
05 - Wedding March
06 - Waltz For Bride & Groom
07 - Rah Chah Polka
08 - Nobody To Live With
09 - Vecela Kolomyka
10 - Wedding Presentation
11 - Father's Toast To Son
12 - Kabasayou Polka
14 - Bride's First Night
15 - Presentation Polka
16 - Jolly Good Fellow
17 - Mnohaya Lita

This is Peter's first venture outside V-records, on the short-lived Eagle Records. To my knowledge, It's the only album he did on this label. It appears to be a scripted story with songs thrown in. The recording quality is actually decent, but I wouldn't consider it to be one of Pete's best albums.

I found a re-release of this album by "Baba's Records" on compact disc and it's dreadfully awful. Someone put the entire album through a click & pop filter and added a layer of reverb to it. It sounds hollow and terrible (as all of the Baba's Records releases that I've heard). I will be honoring the actual Eagle Records release by providing a transfer of the LP. However, the record is warped on the edge, so you'll hear a "whirr" noise for the first bit on sides a and b. Someone left it sitting upright on the stove I guess.

12 Goofy Ukrainian Hits

02 - The Pills
03 - Oie Staraw
04 - Hospital Stay
05 - Combination (underwear)
06 - Ukr. Jingle Bells
07 - 12 Days of Holiday
08 - The Metro System
10 - The Non Drinker
11 - The Smoker's Song
12 - Fee-Faw

His first (and likely only) entry on Sunshine Records (which I believe was sort of a replacement for V-Records). Despite the title, it's not a greatest hits album. It's an album of entirely new recordings. The recording quality is excellent which is almost strange to hear from one of Pete's albums. This is probably the best post-V-Records release of his. 

Peter & Nick Hnatiuk - Together Again

01 - Chorney Orel
02 - Zvidky Zviyalysia Vitry
03 - Lover's Waltz
04 - Marshall's Polka
06 - Oy U Zelenim Hayu
07 - Oy Vidse Hora
08 - Cherez Sosidonky
09 - Kozak's Love Song
10 - Altaneer's Polka

Peter's brother Nick decided to have a music career of his own (although not nearly as successful as Peter's), and Peter decided to join his brother on this album. I have next to no knowledge of Lily Records, but Nick released some of his albums on this label. To my knowledge, this was Peter's last music-related release before his death in 1994. In all honesty, I think this album sucks. The music is terrible, it's got 1980s over-production on it, Nick's afro is terrible, and the songs lack the quirkiness that appeared in most of Peter's previous releases. However, Peter gets to return to the cymbaly on this one, but it's buried in the terrible mix. The accordion is too loud and the drums are too quiet. If I'm honest, I wouldn't be able to tell the difference between this and a shitty Bobby Vinton polka album. All the V-Records releases seemed to have more life to them for some reason. Modern polka and waltz recordings sound like cheezy mush, and Nick's albums are no exception.

While we're on the subject, here's two other albums that Nick released. I'm not providing download links to them solely because Nick is not the focus of this entry. These sound just as mushy as the one with Pete.

Cymbaly Contest Albums

I covered these album in this entry. Pete performed on both of them, and won the competition on the 1972 album. He also performed one song. Check out this link if you want more details on these two releases.

Roy Mykytyshyn Sets Your Hearts On Fire

Peter performed with Roy on the song SOB. It sounds like the both of them were in the liquor cabinet.

Dennis Lischynski's Tribute to Peter Hnatiuk

This album is only worth mentioning because it has Peter's name splashed on the front of it. From what I can tell, it doesn't contain a single song that Peter did and is NOT a genuine tribute album.


RighteousRadio said...

Last year I inherited my Ukrainian grandparents record collection, many of these were in it including Mae Chwaluk Ukrainian Country Farm Party. And then two of them which I remembered when I was young about a loud wedding party/social. I kept the last two and a few others, but gave them all away to a much younger collector than me. He was going to get them digitized. If I had known about you, I would have given them all to you to find good homes.

Dennis Lischynski said...

you dont know to much