In 1985 I watched a film called Rocky IV in which an American boxer by the name of Rocky Balboa defeated a Soviet boxer named Ivan Drago. I left the theater that day with the knowledge that the Russians had been soundly defeated and the Cold War was finally over! But shortly thereafter it was brought to my attention that this so-called “film” was actually fictitious. Would you believe that the parts of Rocky and Drago were played by actors? It’s true. The Cold War was not over at all! Plans to re-purpose our bomb shelter into a game room had to be put on hold.
Fast forward to 1989 and though the Iron Curtain was still very much a thing, the winds of change were-a-blowing. Mikhail Gorbachev “glasnost” policy was loosening the reigns on censorship in the U.S.S.R. — just a enough for a hair band by the name of Gorky Park to travel to the U.S.A. and make an album. Released on Mercury Records, the album was called Gorky Park (or Парк Горького in Russian). Gorbachev was the first person thanked in the liner notes.
Gorky Park were a benevolent bunch of guys making a seemingly sincere attempt to bring together Americans and Russians in peaceful brotherhood using the universal language of rock n’ roll. The well-polished Gorky Park album was a fairly typical late eighties hair/AOR hybrid. There are highlights and low lights. As for the lows, the cover of The Who’s My Generation is an interesting take — though I think it’s ultimately a failure. There’s also a song written by Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora called Peace In Our Time. This song kind of sounds like something Jon and Richie stole from John Mellencamp’s garbage can.
My favorite songs on Gorky Park are the first two. Song number one is a rousing anthem called Bang that has a sort of bombastic Def Leppard sound. Bang is instantly catchy — though a bit repetitive. I kind of got sick of this song after a few listens. The second song on the album is a wonderful ballad called Try To Find Me. I am a known sucker for a good power ballad and this song hits me right in the cockles! Try To Find Me has very plain lyrics — but we can excuse Gorky Park for this because English was not their first language. Try To Find Me has a simple elegance that, in my opinion, puts it in the same class as the exquisite Love Is On The Way by Saigon Kick. I really love this song! I feel like it really comes from the heart. (I told you these guys were benevolent!) Gorky Park did a very nice live version of this song at the famous Moscow Music Peace Festival in late 1989 (here’s a link). From Russia with love! My score: B