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The Leningrad Cowboys is a Finnishmarker rock band famous for its humorous songs, ludicrous hairstyles and concerts featuring the Russianmarker military band Alexandrov ensemble.


The band was an invention of the Finnish film director Aki Kaurismäki, contributing music in his short films "Rocky VI" (1986), "Thru the Wire" (1987) and appearing as a fictional band in the short film "L.A. Woman" (1988) and in the feature film Leningrad Cowboys Go America (1989). The fictional band, however, was made up of Sakke Järvenpää and Mato Valtonen, members of a real Finnish band the Sleepy Sleepers with some additional musicians. In the film, they are joined by Nicky Tesco, founding member of the UKmarker punk rock band, The Members.


After the film, the band took on a life of its own, recording music, making videos and giving concerts. The band appeared in two other Aki Kaurismäki films, the Leningrad Cowboys Meet Moses (1994) and the Total Balalaika Show (1994), which is a film of a concert performed by the band and the full 160-member Alexandrov ensemble in Helsinki, Finland in June 1993. Kaurismäki also wrote and directed two videos featuring the band: their cover of the 60's folk standard Those Were The Days (1992) and Thru The Wire (also featuring Tesco) (1992).

In 1994, the band appeared together with 70 members of the Alexandrov ensemble at the 11th annual MTV Music Awards, at the Radio City Music Hallmarker in New Yorkmarker, where they sang the Lynyrd Skynyrd classic Sweet Home Alabama. The show was seen by an estimated 250 million people worldwide. That same year, the band and ensemble again joined forces for the "Nokia Balalaika Show", a concert held in Berlinmarker. In 1998 they featured in the film L.A. Without a Map.

Currently, the band has 11 Cowboys and two Leningrad Ladies. The songs, all somewhat influenced by polka and progressive rock, are performed in English and have themes such as vodka, tractors, rockets, and Genghis Khan, as well as folkloric Russianmarker songs, rock and roll ballads and covers from bands as diverse as The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and Lynyrd Skynyrd, all presented with lots of humour.

Ten years after the Total Balalaika Show, on August 23rd 2003, the Leningrad Cowboys and the Alexandrov ensemble returned to the Senate Square in Helsinki with UMO and various international performers for the spectacular Global Balalaika Show, was released on DVD directed by Timo Suomi, on November 21th 2003.


Album "Zombie's Paradise"

The album has a hard-rock sound even closer to alternative speed-metal. However, covers of famous old songs sounds chaotically effective (especially "Manic Monday"). The album also includes the 1994 Studio version of "Happy Together" as well as a new 2006 version. The music video for the album's cover of the song "You're My Heart, You're My Soul" - is made totally in animated 3D computer graphics as a road-thriller movie.


One more show with the Russian Military Band was played in Finland on 22nd November 2008. A newly-released publication, Bio-Book PRAVDA - The Truth About The Leningrad Cowboys also appeared. Promotional lines included: "Here it is finally, The Leningrad Cowboys book "Pravda"!



Title Label Year
1917 - 1987 Megamania 1988
Leningrad Cowboys Go America Megamania 1989
We Cum From Brooklyn Johanna 1992
Live in Prowinzz Johanna 1993
Total Balalaika Show - Helsinki Concert Johanna 1993
Happy Together Johanna 1994
Go Space Johanna 1996
Mongolian Barbeque Johanna 1997
Thank You Very Many - Greatest Hits And Rarities BMG 1999
Terzo Mondo Johanna 2000
Go Wild BMG 2000
Global Balalaika Show Johanna 2003
Zombies Paradise Sony BMG 2006

Singles and EPs

Title Format Label Year Notes
"Those Were The Days" CD-Single BMG Ariola 1992
"Thru The Wire" CD-Single BMG Ariola 1992
"Jupiter Calling" CD-Single BMG Ariola 1996
"Where's The Moon" CD-Single BMG Ariola 1996
"Be Worry Don't Happy" CD-Promo Single Megamania 1999
"Happy Being Miserable" CD-Single Roadrunner 2000
007 Villian Club by Swatch Promo-CD Swatch 2008 Features: "A View to a Kill", "Goldfinger", and "James Bond Theme"


Title Year Director Notes
"Rocky VI" 1986 Aki Kaurismäki short film
"Thru The Wire" 1987 Aki Kaurismäki short film
"L.A. Woman" 1988 Aki Kaurismäki short film
Leningrad Cowboys Go America 1989 Aki Kaurismäki feature film
"Those Were The Days" 1991 Aki Kaurismäki short film
"These Boots" 1992 Aki Kaurismäki short film
Total Balalaika Show 1993 Aki Kaurismäki Concert film
Leningrad Cowboys Meet Moses 1994 Aki Kaurismäki feature film
NOKIA Balalaika Show 1994 Concert - TV broadcast
11th Annual MTV Video Music Awards 1994 Performance of "Sweet Home Alabama" withe the Red Army Ensemble
"Jupiter Calling" 1996 Sakke Järvenpää music video
"Leningrad" 1996 Sakke Järvenpää music video
"Where's The Moon" 1996 Sakke Järvenpää music video
L.A. Without a Map 1998 Mika Kaurismäki feature film
"Happy Being Miserable" 2000 music video
Leningrad Cowboys Go Classic 2001 Concert - TV broadcast (NDR)
Global Balalaika Show 2003 Timo Suomi Concert - TV broadcast (YLE)
Leningrad Cowboys Play Hurriganes 2004 Concert of Hurriganes music - TV broadcast (YLE)
"You're My Heart, You're My Soul" 2007 music video

External links

  • , their first short film from 1986

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