Restrictive Remix

Furthering the idea of the censor remix is the restrictive remix or the employment of remix for political ends that was observed in all former Communist states, including Bulgaria. In the years until 1989 (the collapse of the Zhivkov regime), in order to filter out Western ‘Capitalist’ influences, Bulgaria’s Communist regime regularly ordered or supervised the production of localised versions of the original. One of the first examples is Emil Dimitrov’s 1964 Ако имах чук, based on the 1949 If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song) by Pete Seeger and Lee Hays, which was also recorded by another Bulgarian pop-music icon, Lili Ivanova the next year. Some performed a moralising function through their lyrics, a notable example being Todor Kolev’s Жигули, based on Louis Prima’s 1956 Just a Gigolo - I Ain’t Got Nobody (which is a remix itself of the 1929 adaptation by Irving Caesar of the 1928 Austrian song “Schöner Gigolo”). Such remakes of Western European and American music were written and composed under the dictation of the Party. Other popular restrictive remixes include the 1978 Спри се by Signal (sourced from same year Uriah Heep’s Free Me), the 1968 Тя днес си купи билет by Lili Ivanova (sourced from 1965 The Beatles’ Ticket to Ride), the 1980 Лодка по Реката by Mimi Ivanova (sourced from the same year Boat on the River by STYX), Margarita Radinska’s 1969 Бенг Бенг (sourced from the 1966 Cher Bang Bang), FSB's След десет години (sourced from Le Orme - Amico di ieri) and so on and so forth.


The article studies the impact of a state policy of restriction of access to and influence of Western music on music entertainment and production in countries in the Eastern Bloc during the 1960s–1980s, focusing on the situation in Communist-era Bulgaria. A type of musical works is described that are created in a censorial system having an inhibitive approach to English-language works originating in Britain or the United States. A variety of Bulgarian works are compared to their prototypes, discussing the distortions of the originals and the introduction of moralising features under a politically determined agenda by comparing the lyrics of the original and the remix. The long term impact of this policy of discouragement of Western musical works and production of localised versions is assessed in the present, a quarter of a century after the fall of the Communist regime in Bulgaria.

Full text from Textualia or from my Academia profile.

An example proper of the restrictive remix, and an all time favourite of mine is Rositsa Kirilova & Bratya Argirovi's Избрах нарочно вас (I've Chosen You Intentionally, 1984) which reflexively treats the source material of The Exiters' Tell Him (1962). The song, which stayed in Bulgarian dance floor compilations for several years, is an accelerated synthesized beat disco track with lyrics unconnected to the English ones, but following the same rhythmic structure - have phonetic similarity. Lyrics by prolific 1980s songwriter Ziva Kyuldjieva (Жива Кюлджиева), music by Bulgarian electronic music pioneer Simo Lazarov, arrangement by Blagovest Argirov.

Written by Bert Russell Berns, the song was originally titled Tell Her and was first performed by Gil Hamilton aka Johhny Thunder (1962). There have been over a dozen remixes of Tell Him - for an exhaustive list see the Wikipedia article.

The most recent remake of the song is by Vonda Shepard who performed for the Ally McBeal TV series under the name I Know Something About Love (1999).