привет all you Public Recordeers! Welcome to another edition and addition to our ever growing album of the week series. We are in the middle of our Euronation month of May. Last week, we were in France dancing to the disco tunes of the female trio Belle Epoque; this week we are going to head into the rising sun and slip under the Iron Curtain to hear another talented lady.

The Public Records is happy to share with you the USSR’s one and only (and our album of the week) Маркиза or Marquis. Marquis was formed in Moscow in 1987 by Elena Sokolova who had had a long and difficult time getting there. Sokolova began her musical career with her brother Sergey Sokolov in 1970 after she had attended the ‘October Revolution’ academy for the arts with a degree in musical comedy.

The road wasn’t an easy one as the general population at the time was not very receptive to a female singer in the world of rock and roll (nor was rock and roll very acceptable to the Soviet state). Finally in 1981, they were able to record a tape, but this was not the success they had hoped for; it took another four years to be able to get anything together – and in 1985 the siblings were able to form Double 1 with Elena as the vocalist, Sergey on keyboard and working with Igor Kozhin on guitar, Vadim Mikhailov on bass, and Vladimir Volodin as the drummer.

Elena was the first female to lead a hard rock group, but thanks to their skill and the management they had Double 1 began to get noticed and were able to participate in the large festival “Rock Panorama-86”. However, every blessing comes with a curse. Now they had a massive following, but due to their unorthodoxy the state placed them on the ‘forbidden bands’ list. The Directorate of the Philharmonic got involved and made their lives miserable and the band soon broke up. Elena, fed up with bureaucracy, quit the business and began to work in The House Of Pioneers helping educate children in the arts. And that was that…

Until another set of siblings, the sisters Elena and Svetlana Molchanova, whose elder brother was a drummer in a hard rock band, met Elena Sokolova. Initially the three decided to just jam, but soon realized they had something serious on their hands. However, they also wanted to do their own thing and side step all the governmental controls. They decided to start a new group but in order for the people ‘to be serious about metal, they needed to take it seriously’.

In 1987, Marquis was formed with Elena Sokolova singing, Elena Molchanova on guitar, Svetlana on drums, Vladimir Kaverin also on guitar, and Alexander Palamarchuk on bass. They had immediate success and thanks to Sokolova’s experiences in the past, didn’t let it get to their heads. However, like most groups line up changes were made; Svetlana left to join Prima Donna and was replaced by Yuri Mamontov, Vladimir Kaverin was replaced by Dmitri Lukyanov, Elena Sokolova picked up the bass alongside Alexander, and her brother Sergey joined as the keyboardist.

By early 1989, Marquis had recorded their first album ‘Marquis’ (Melodiya, 1989), and with it Elena’s dream of control. The A side are all songs she wrote lyrically and the B side is comprised of songs she composed musically. Marquis was also very popular right out of the gate and took part in both ‘Monsters of the USSR’ festivals.

Let us celebrate these hardcore women who wouldn’t take no for an answer and just had to get things done their way by raising a glass of Penn Square Lavender vodka from Thistle Finch (a distiller who does it their way as well).