Belaboris - FinnScene: The Early Years

Belaboris was a Finnish female group featuring vocalists Vilma Vainikainen (Belaboris MK I, 1982-83) and Saara Soisalo (Belaboris MK II, 1984) on vocals. The other members were mostly just seen on promo pictures; their actual vocal parts being only minimal if not non-existent.

The band moniker was taken from a combination of the names of two famed horror film actors, Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. Belaboris was a brainchild of the famed Finnish indie producer and punk journalist Kimmo Miettinen, commonly known in Finland just by his family name.

Miettinen was obviously planning his own version of the Malcolm McLaren type of "Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle", and his original intention was to give the public the idea that the band members were playing themselves on their records, when in fact the music was provided by Esa Ijäs's synthpop band Tyhjät Patterit ("Empty Batteries").

Miettinen managed to sell his idea to Epe Helenius, who ran the Poko Rekords label in Tampere. The debut single 'Kuolleet peilit'/'Monsteribaari' was released on Poko Rekords' sublabel Femme Fatale in November 1982. It was followed by 'Odotus'/'Babypop' (on the flipside a version of a Serge Gainsbourg song) in February 1983, and after Belaboris had already split, the mini-album ...Olipa kerran ("...Once upon a time") in December 1984, which also featured a Finnish cover version of 'Venus' by Dutch band Shocking Blue.

All original Belaboris songs were written by Esa Ijäs and played by his band Tyhjät Patterit (Esa & Ari Ijäs and Martti Jalonen), and responsible for the vocals was mostly Vilma Vainikainen. Of the other members, Sisko Vainikainen and Rita were singing on some tracks; Jake and Mari don't sing at all on Belaboris records.

Due to lack of success, the original Belaboris split soon afterwards. Not letting himself be discouraged by this, in 1984 Miettinen put together Belaboris MK II. However, this line-up featuring no original members was to be short-lived, too; featuring vocals from Saara Soisalo and having as its other members Sallamaari Muhonen (backing vocals) and Minna Soisalo ("moral support").

Their only single was 'Rakkauden jälkeen' ("After love"), an atmospheric electronic version of a song originally made famous in 1968 by Finnish chanteuse Carola (1941-1997). The track was a Finnish translation of 'Was ich dir sagen will' by Udo Jürgens, and Belaboris was seen performing a playback version in a gloomily lighted studio set on Hittimittari music show of Finnish TV 2, perfectly exuding icy 1980s coolness.

After Belaboris, its members were to continue their individual careers in Finnish music and media. Saara Soisalo became a successful jazz singer after a brief career in pop. Vilma Vainikainen was heard as vocalist in the flamboyant beehive-wearing 1960s pastiche garage rock group Pim! who released three cultish singles in between 1985 and 1987.

Saara's sister Minna Soisalo had acted in Mika Kaurismäki's film Klaani - tarina Sammakoiden suvuista (1984) and was also to be seen in some other Finnish films. Sallamaari Muhonen was involved in different tasks in Finnish media, later also in politics.

Belaboris was not completely forgotten, though. 'Rakkauden jälkeen' gained occasional radioplay in Finland and was included on some retrospective compilation CDs of Finnish rock, as was also the track 'Kuolleet peilit'. Belaboris songs also became available as torrent files and at YouTube, raising some posthumous interest even on international music blogs.

In February 2012 Poko Records finally released the whole recorded output of Belaboris on a CD called ... Olipa kerran - Koko Tuotanto (POKOCD 130), featuring the original mini-LP and all singles; added by Saara Soisalo's 1986 solo single and her 1985 collaboration 7" with Popeda's vocalist Pate Mustajärvi.

  • Belaboris @ Discogs
  • Belaboris @ FinnMusic
  • Belaboris @ Finnish Wikipedia


    Kuolleet peilit

    Kuolleet peilit / Monsteribaari (12")
    FISH 1
    Femme Fatale
    A. Kuolleet peilit (3:09)
    B. Monsteribaari (3:15)

    A. & B. written/arranged/lyrics by Belaboris.

    Recorded at MSL-Studio, May 1982.
    Recording engineer: Mika Sundqvist.
    Personnel: Vilma (vocals), Sisko (moral support), Rita (moral support), Jake (moral support), Mari (moral support).
    Esa Ijäs (synthesizer), Ari Ijäs (bass).
    (others unknown)

    NOTE: Kuolleet peilit also on the compilations Suomi-Rock 1982 and Eilisen jälkeen - Suomalaista postpunkia 1981-1987.

    /pic/belabo3.jpg /pic/belabo4.jpg

    Odotus / Babypop (7")
    FISH 3
    Femme Fatale
    A. Odotus (3:28)
    B. Babypop (2:40)

    A. written/arranged/lyrics by Belaboris.
    B. written & lyrics by Serge Gainsbourg.

    Recorded at MSL-Studio, late 1982?
    Producer: Belaboris.
    Personnel: Vilma (vocals), Sisko (moral support), Rita (moral support), Jake (moral support), Mari (moral support).
    Esa Ijäs (synthesizer).
    (others unknown)

    /pic/belabo1.jpg /pic/belabo2.jpg

    Rakkauden jälkeen (7")
    Poko Rekords

    A1: Rakkauden jälkeen
    B1: Muut sen tietää (original: 'Shake Me, Wake Me')

    Recorded in 1984.
    Produced: Jay Havanna.
    Personnel: Saara (vocals), Salla (backing vocals), Minna (moral support).
    (others unknown)

    NOTE: 'Rakkauden jälkeen' also appears on Poko Rekords' Suomirokkia compilation CD (1998).

    ...Olipa Kerran (mini-LP)
    Formula 5
    Poko Rekords
    December 1984

    A1. Kuolleet peilit (3.10) - "Dead mirrors"; side A of the single FISH 1
    A2. Yö vanhassa talossa (4.02) - "A night in an old house"; side A of an unreleased single
    A3. Odotus (3.18) - "The waiting"; side A of the single FISH 3
    A4. Kolme askelta (2.40) - "Three steps"; Side B of an unreleased single, Costello remix
    B1. Monsteribaari (3.17) - "Monster bar"; side B of the single FISH 1
    B2. Mitä lapsille tapahtui (2.52) - "Whatever happened to the children"; an unreleased song from the first recording session
    B3. Babypop (2.40) - Side B of the single FISH 3 B
    B4. Venus (2.25) - An extra song from the second single session, released on the compilation cassette REPLAY 2.

    Recorded at MSL-Studio, 1982-1983.
    Recording engineer: Mika Sundqvist.
    Personnel: Vilma (vocals), Sisko (moral support), Rita (moral support), Jake (moral support), Mari (moral support).
    Esa Ijäs (synthesizer), Ari Ijäs (bass).
    (others unknown)

    ...Olipa Kerran - Koko Tuotanto (CD)
    POKOCD 130
    Poko Rekords
    15 February 2012

    1. Kuolleet peilit
    2. Yö vanhassa talossa
    3. Odotus
    4. Kolme askelta (Costello-remix)
    5. Monsteribaari
    6. Mitä lapsille tapahtui
    7. Babypop
    8. Venus

    Bonus tracks:

    Belaboris MK I:
    9. Odotus (original version)
    10. Kolme askelta (original version)

    Belaboris MK II:
    11. Rakkauden jälkeen
    12. Muut sen tietää

    Pate Mustajärvi & Saara Soisalo 7" (1985):
    13. Hei Paula
    14. Mä lähden stadiin

    Saara Soisalo 7" (1986):
    15. Hiekkarantaan
    16. Sympatiaa
    17. Paljain jaloin

    For compilation appearances, please refer to Belaboris discography @ Discogs.

    Belaboris - Kuolleet peilit

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