Troyka – S/T
URGENT: If you have any information on the whereabouts of MICHAEL (MIKE) RICHARDS drummer of Troyka and member of Edmonton, Alberta’s rock-and-roll group The Royal Family, please contact Rob Edwards or Ron Lukaweitski (of Troyka and Royal Family) through the comment page below.
Wow, Troyka. Where do I start? I guess 1965, with Edmonton, Alberta’s rock-and-roll group The Royal Family, a group of four young Edmontonians who released two singles on the Apex label, one of which contains a comp’d garage-punker called Solitude. After touring and recording for a while it became apparent that Apex was pushing them towards a more pop-sound, something the band members did not wish to do. It was decided that Rob Edwards (guitar), Rumor (Ron) Lukaweitski (bass), and Michael Richards (drums) would split to form Troyka. With the contacts they made recording for Apex, they landed a deal with Atlantic’s new division Cotillion, even having infamous Velvet Underground producer Shel Kagan get involved.
Round Sound Studio was created, the first home-studio in Edmonton, and the group decided to have jam sessions open to the public on Friday nights. These sessions were packed by locals, either fans of the Royal Family or the new burgeoning “psychedelic scene”. Each song on the Troyka album was born from one of these sessions, which helps to explain the sometimes erratic (in a good way) nature of the album.
Unlike so many stories that usually end right here with the group producing an acetate that never saw the light of day until it was found and reissued by labels like Rockadelic, Troyka’s album was finished and released. I have no idea how the album sold, but it did receive a review from Rolling Stone (Issue #58, 1970) of which Rob Edwards wrote a hilarious 35-year late reply that I will post below. However, after the fact, the album has become somewhat legendary amongst psychedelic collectors.
The album sounds very much like the manner in which it was recorded; over a series of sessions. While it can be argued there is no “consistent vibe” to the album, Shel Kagan and Troyka did an amazing job at ordering and choosing the tracks in a way that makes the album have a natural flow. It is obvious the band was having fun, experimenting, fooling around, all the while making good music. Everything is captured on here: wild hard-psych with grunted lyrics, East-European influenced awesomeness (is that a Kobza on Dear Margareta?), dreamy soft-psych (see early morning below), melodic 6 minute psychedelic guitar jams, and all complete with awesome theme’d interludes, keeping the flow together. Overall? This album is amazing. There is not one thing I would change. It is unique, charming, hilarious, weird, outrageous, exciting, and brilliant. The type of album you could show to people who don’t get record collecting and they would briefly understand.
It shoud also be noted that the group recorded many of these sessions, and that somewhere these tapes exist…
After releasing their album the band went their separate ways. Michael Fraser, who became increasingly interested in spiritualism and yoga, left to British Columbia and has not been heard from since. Rob Edwards continued to write music and is now a music teacher (visit his web-site below, both informative and funny). I’m unsure what Ron Lukaweitski is doing now, but him and Rob are still friends, and even recently performed as “Troyka” and “The Royal Family” (with assistance from Holgar Peterson, who produced the ACME Sausage Company album I reviewed on here).
I have had the pleasure of meeting Rob Edwards on several occasions, and it has been nothing short of awesome. It’s weird, I never really thought about it before hand, but he could very well have been a crusty old psychedelic dude more interested in reviving his Troyka heritage than actually discussing music. Nope, instead I got a stream of hilarious e-mails and anecdotes, and I can say he is a good reflection of the album itself. He’s even a fellow record digger/collector, even going on a short to trip to the flea markets with me one saturday morning. “I’m like you Aaron, I’d rather find that stuff for a buck in a thrift store!”.
Finally, for an album that rarely gets negative reviews these days, an album that is scarce even in the city it was made, an album that is sought after by many psychedelic collectors the world-over, it is surprising that you can still get it for cheap on eBay. In fact, I am completely bewildered by this every time I see a copy selling. But, this is to your benefit. So go and get a copy (there is a German reissue, but I’m unsure as to the legitimacy of it).
LETTER TO ROLLING STONE
Dear Rolling Stone
Recently I sent an e-mail asking for help locating a 1970 , # 58 issue of your magazine. But so far no reply.
The reason I wanted a copy was, there is an article reviewing an Lp of Troyka in it.
At that time I was the lead guitarist in that band and because of “leading the life of musician”, I wasn’t aware that you had reviewed the album.
So, after finding the magazine and reading the review by Charles Perry, it was not what I remembered or hoped for. Wow! I may have been ‘medicated’ at the time, however, it was news to me to read that Mr. Perry thought Troyka was from Russia, (whereas Cashbox wrote that we were an excellent band from Canada…)and “jamming radio broadcast” with our “third rate Afro-cuban jazz played at 45 rpm”!!!
But! It seems that the more I read on the internet about Troyka, the negative review (36 years ago) most likely helped the band to remain a sought after album. It has been re-produced in Cd, tape and 180 gram Lp format in the U.S. and overseas.
This Lp has many interesting facts about it, it was engineered by Gene Paul, Les Paul’s son.
The photo and co-producer was Shel Kagan, producer of of many well know artists such as Lou Reed, Velvet Underground, Jack Elliott and Sweet Stavin Chain .
I would like to thank you at Rolling Stone.
If you print any of the above, we (Rob Edwards and Ron Lukawietsky) are trying to locate the drummer and third member Michael Richards. Could you please ask him to call us in the far north, Canada (NOT Russia!)