Troyka

Troyka was a Canadian blues-psych trio that released a self-titled album on Cotillion in 1970.

Members: Robert Edwards (guitar, mandolin, vocals), Michael Richards (lead vocals, drums, percussion), Ron Lukawitski (bass, bongos, banjo)


Background

Troyka had its roots in The Ortegas, an early-Sixties Edmonton teen band with guitarist Rob Edwards and bassist Ron Lukawitski. As the British Invasion swept Canada, they welcomed drummer Larry Hall and English-transplant guitarist–singer Michael Richards.

As The Royal Family, they signed to the Lachine-based record label Apex and cut two 1965–66 singles: the ballad “I Told a Lie” (b/w the moderate-paced “Don’t You Even Want to Know”) and then “Sometimes” (b/w the uptempo beat ditty “Solitude”). In 1966, they played to 40,000 attendees of the Calgary Stampede. Despite modest local airplay, they left Apex due to the label’s attempt to pop-groom their image.

The Royal Family relocated to Montreal and performed at the Expo 67 Fair. After a spell in New York, they re-settled in Edmonton, where Richards overtook Hall on drums. The new three-piece lineup of Edwards, Lukawitski (aka Rumor), and Richards renamed themselves Troyka — derived from troika, a Russian three-horse carriage — picked in honor of their Slavic heritage.

Richards’ father, Ted, managed the band and constructed Round Sound, their home studio. Troyka signed with Cotillion Records, a nascent division of Atlantic devoted to the new forms of jazz, rock, and soul.


Troyka 

Troyka released their self-titled album in January 1970 on Cotillion (North America) and Atlantic (Australia). It features nine group-written songs; each side unified with prelude–postludes.

Side A contains five proper songs, including “Early Morning,” “Burning of the Witch,” and the whimsical “Rub-A-Dub-Dub Troyka In a Tub.” Side B contains four, including “Dear Margaret (Malgosia)” and the six-minute “Go East Young Man Beautiful Pink Eyes.”

Rumor Lukawietsky plays four- and eight-string bass plus bongos on Troyka, on which features guitarist Robert Edwards doubles on mandolin and drummer Mike Richards handles lead vocals.

A1. “Introduction” (0:37)
A2. “Natural” (2:47)
A3. “Early Morning” (3:52)
A4. “Life’s O.K.” (4:03)
A5. “Burning of the Witch” (2:54)
A6. “Rub-A-Dub-Dub Troyka In a Tub” (2:19)
A7. “Troyka Lament” (0:33)
B1. “Troyka Solo” (0:37)
B2. “Rolling Down the Back Road” (4:04)
B3. “Berry Picking” (2:48)
B4. “Dear Margaret (Malgosia)” (2:33)
B5. “Go East Young Man Beautiful Pink Eyes” (6:12)
B6. “Troyka Finale” (0:30)

Sessions took place in late 1969 at Round Sound, where Ted Richards engineered the album, which Troyka co-produced with Shel Kagan, a soundman on 1970 Cotillion titles by Sweet Stavin Chain and The Velvet Underground (Loaded).

Veteran Atlantic–ATCO graphis illustrator Loring Eutemey designed the cover to Troyka, which shows the band jacketed up in the Great White Northern snow (front and back). Kagan photographed the band in a similar manner (informal, alfresco) to his group-pics on Sweet Stavin Chain.

Cotillion lifted “Natural” as a single (b/w “Berry Picking”). Troyka plugged the album with US and Canadian dates with Blue Cheer (Detroit), The Byrds (Edmonton), Canned Heat, Family, Rare Earth (DC), and Savoy Brown. The tour wrapped with Mountain at Toronto’s Electric Circus.


Later Activity

After the tour, Edwards left Troyka, which hired guitarist Bob Styrna and re-entered the live circuit. They twice visited Los Angeles and scoped record labels but folded in mid-1971.

Richards reappeared on the 1972 Chrysalis release Spilt Milk by ex-Justine singer Laurie Styvers. Edwards contributed one track (“March of the Turkeys”) to the 1972 private multi-artist folk release ACME Sausage Factory. He played on recordings by Spiney Norman’s Whoopee Band and singer–songwriter Paul Hann.

Troyka reappeared in 2000 as a CD release by German archivists Black Rose Records. Amid renewed interest, Troyka reunited in 2006 for a one-off show at the Winspear Centre in Edmonton.


Discography:

  • Troyka (1970)

Sources:

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