Year of Release: 1963
The sixties guitar-based instrumental act is seldom looked upon with much fondness or regard. True, there are some Joe Meek productions out there which some like to spin, and few would object to the likes of Dick Dale on their stereo, but there were sheer volumes of twangy-guitar playing, foot shuffling smiling boys (they usually were boys) on the circuit back in the early part of the decade. The NME et al would generally have "Best Instrumental Group" categories in their year end polls, which The Shadows normally won hands down.
Perhaps the spectre of The Shadows and Hank Marvin's perceived naffness eventually did for instrumental acts everywhere, but it's when you come across inventive little ditties like this one that you almost mourn the passing of the genre. Group X were apparently a studio-based affair, but this oddly titled tribute to the Ukraine/ Russian region (I wonder if Peter Solowka out of the Wedding Present was listening?) is everything an instrumental pop record of the period should be - fizzing, buzzing and twanging with so many hooks it earworms its way into your brain immediately. Here seems to be the primary difference between vocal acts and their instrumental cousins of the time - when lyrical phrases were lacking, the melody lines had to have an extra added potency to hit home, and so they frequently did. Once again, this is hyperpop stuff, very very infectious and with little time for subtlety.
"There are Eight Million Cossack Melodies..." wasn't a hit despite (or perhaps because of) its preposterously long title, but the number of online mentions its received on forums recently would suggest that its remembered by many. Group X never did go on to any sort of success, but I'm sure they found other session work to occupy their time.
(This blog entry was originally uploaded in August 2009, and I'm afraid no additional information about the band ever did come to light).