Kremlin krazy for Smokie

In the legendary words of Boney M’s Ra-Ra Rasputin: "Oh those Russians". In a surreal piece of music news it has emerged that wrinkly 70s rockers Smokie are big in Russia. So big in fact that they were invited to perform at a Kremlin dinner for the Russian president Dmitry Medvedev.

The band played to top Russian luminaries including the prime minister and next president, barring electoral mishaps, Vladimir Putin, among high-ranking ministers and generals. It makes a change from the northern club circuit.

Smokie last impinged on our consciousness with a profane version of their 1970s hit Living Next Door To Alice, performed with vulgar comic Roy Chubby Brown. The Russians, it seems, treat Smokie with more reverence.

Terry Uttley, the band’s bassist, was impressed with the gig, as he told The Guardian. "I think Medvedev and Putin were at the first table in front of the guitar player, although I couldn't be certain," he said. "It was very highbrow. There wasn't any dancing in the aisles."

Their manager John Wagstaff explained that Smokie remain huge in Russia, and throughout Eastern Europe, and received their presidential invitation in December 2011. "Their number, What Can I Do, is especially popular," he said. "I've even heard that Russian students turned it into a drinking song called Vodka I Do."

Medvedev is also a big fan of Deep Purple, and met the elderly rockers when they last toured Russia. He makes David Cameron, with his fondness for The Smiths, look like a wimp, frankly.

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