Czechoslovakia. With the collapse of the Habsburg monarchy at the end of WWI, the independent country of Czechoslovakia was formed, encouraged by, among others, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson. The Czechs and Slovaks were not at the same level of economic and technological development, but the freedom and opportunity found in an independent new country enabled them to make strides toward overcoming these inequalities. However, the gap between cultures was never fully bridged, and the discrepancy played a continuing role throughout the seventy-five years of the union.
The first republic led by Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk (politician, sociologist, and philosopher), a rationalist and humanist, lasted until the German occupation and settled the country in the 10th position of world industrial production. The second and third republic was shortened by the beginning of the communist era, after WWII in 1948.
Then, the economy was committed to comprehensive central planning and abolition of private ownership of capital. Czechoslovakia became a satellite state of the Soviet Union; it was a founding member of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon) in 1949 and of the Warsaw Pact (URSS’s response to OTAN) in 1955. The attainment of Soviet-style command socialism became the government’s avowed policy.
Although Czechoslovakia’s industrial growth of 170 percent between 1948 and 1957 was impressive, it was far exceeded by that of Japan and the Federal Republic of Germany (almost 300 percent). The 1960 Constitution declared the victory of socialism and proclaimed the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic.
De-Staliniziation had a late start in Czechoslovakia, in the early 1960s, the economy became severely stagnant, the industrial growth rate was the lowest in Eastern Europe. As a result, in 1965, the party approved the New Economic Model, introducing free-market elements into the economy. The KSČ (Communist Party of Czechoslovakia) ‘theses’ of December 1965 presented the party response to the call for political reform.
Democratic centralism was redefined, placing a stronger emphasis on democracy. The leading role of the KSČ was reaffirmed but limited. On January 5, 1968, the KSČ Central Committee elected Alexander Dubcek, a Slovak reformer, to replace Novotný as the first secretary of the KSČ. The most turbulent period since the war had begun, amongst the wanted reforms were the press freedom, the end of political monopoly (from Communist Party), the free party organization, religious tolerance, amid other measures that pointed to a radical democratization of Czechoslovakia.
The massive support from intellectuals, the society and countries like Yugoslavia left the URSS fearful with the end of their hegemony and on August 20, 1968, after refusing to attend a meeting at the Warsaw Pact.
These same troops from the alliance invaded the city of Prague, Dubcek was arrested and brought to Moscow, along with other Czech leaders.
The following months were marked by the peaceful resistance to the occupation from the population. Local radio broadcasts were brief stimulating resistance. Days after the seizure of Prague has triggered a general strike. The USSR tried unsuccessfully to arrange a collaborationist government, but the solidarity with the old leadership had become widespread. Dubcek returned to Prague and still remained for some time in office. But the reform plan was dropped in exchange for the withdrawal of troops.
In January 1969, a young man immolated himself publicly in the Czech capital, restarting a wave of demonstrations. But by that time, the hard-line Communist Party had recomposed. The favor of rapprochement with the USSR again took control of the party. The election of Gustáv Husák, in April 1969, which succeeded Dubcek, ended the short but significant movement known as the Prague Spring. The reforms would come just two decades later, with the crisis of the socialist bloc. (!)
Let’s go to our history:
In 1969, long-time collaborators Jiri Cerha and Ladislav Kantor had the idea to get together talented vocalists for a multi-timbered vocal ensemble, and so was born C&K Vocal. At first, their style was folk-based and they often participated in folk and country festivals. By 1973 though, with their new concert repertoire, they started exploring the rock. The line-up included Lubos Pospisil, Zdena Adamova, Milena Cervena and Helena Arnetova besides the two co-founders.
In 1976 they released an English Lp called Generation, which was mostly comprised of unique covers of rock artists such as Uriah Heep, Flamengo and Marek Grechuta. The Czech version was released a year later containing a considerable number of originals as well. The style was hard prog, quite similar to Flamengo but with voices replacing saxophones and strings/synths replacing Hammond.
The prog influence was likely brought to the band by guitarist Ota Petrina, who was a co-writer and producer and also the leader of the instrumental segment which included top Czech musicians such as Pavel Fort, Guma Kulhanek, Jan Kubik, and Anatoli Kohout. During the late ’70s and early ’80s, the band focused on audiovisual programs, combining music with photography, visual arts and film. They also recorded a considerable amount of singles and another English-sung Lp Growing Up Time.
During the late 80’s they recorded two more albums, Balada o Zemi (1985) and Causa Krysar (1989), the latter of which had a modernized 80s new wave sound but also abundant symphonic elements. Ladislav Kantor left the ensemble in 1990, but despite this, they have still been sporadically active.
Let’s go to our album:
Today’s record will leave the fans of choral and vocal techniques much impressed. With a large range of influences such as rock, prog, soul, jazz, Latin tinges, ballads, and an incredible backing band this is one of the musical gems that the Iron Curtain hid in those days. The Czech Republic has also a distinct mark in terms of arts: the Czech new-wave cinema, Franz Kafka, Gustav Mahler, Antonín Dvorak and many Cubist, Abstract and Surrealist painters, are just a few names of this underestimated society.
The ‘IM’ highlights are for: Rám Příštích Obrazů, a fantastic opening track, delivering complex harmonics in a carrousel of voices and soulful breathtaking conclusion, just brilliant! And Doky, Vlaky, Hlad A Boty, with resemblance of Flamengo’s sound (a dedicated post of them will be held), this brass-rock got some psychedelic riffs, sweet breakbeats, and a wholly tuned vocal performance.
Enjoy this commie rock act and Boa Viaxe!
A1 Rám Příštích Obrazů (music: V.Misik, lyrics: J.Kainar)
A2 Na Kraji (music: J.Cerha, lyrics: L.Kantor)
A3 Lásko, Lásko… (music: O.Petrina, lyrics: L.Kantor)
B1 Doky, Vlaky, Hlad A Boty (music: J.Kubik, lyrics: L.Kantor)
B2 Generace (Životopis) (music: J.Cerha, lyrics: L.Kantor)
B3 Vteřiny (music: J.Cerha, lyrics: L.Kantor)
B4 Chorovod (Korowód) (music: M.Grechuta, lyrics: L.A.Moczulski, L.Kantor)
Supraphon 1 13 2023
- Alto Vocals – Helena Arnetová (tracks: A1, B2, B3), Milena Cervená
- Guest, Soprano Vocals – Zdena Adamová (tracks: A2)
- Mezzo-Soprano Vocals – Petra Janu (tracks: B2)
- Tenor Vocals – Lubos Pospisil (tracks: A3, B1, B3)
- Baritone Vocals – Ladislav Kantor (tracks: B1, B4)
- Bass Vocals (Bass-Baritone) – Jiri Cerha (tracks: A2, B1, B2)
- Arranged By (Vocal) – C & K Vocal (tracks: A1 to A3, B3, B4), Jiri Cerha (tracks: A2, B1, B2, B4), Ota Petrina (tracks: A3, B3)
Leader (C&K Vocal) – Ladislav Kantor
Backing Band – Labyrint
- Bass Guitar – Vladimir Kulhánek (tracks: A1, A2, B1, B2, B4)
- Drums, Percussion, Congas – Anatoli Kohout (tracks: A1, A2, B1, B2, B4)
- Electric Piano, Organ, Piano, Percussion – Pavel Vetrovec (tracks: A1, A2, B1, B2, B4)
- Guest, Bass Guitar – Vladimír Padrunek (tracks: A3)
- Guest, Congas – Jiri Tomek (tracks: A2, B4)
- Guest, Drums – Vlado Cech (tracks: A3)
- Guest, Flute – Jiri Stivin (tracks: B2), Libor Mikule (tracks: B3)
- Guest, Organ – Petr Dvorak (tracks: B3)
- Guest, Synthesizer (Moog) – Jan Neckar (tracks: B2, B4), Martin Kratochvíl (tracks: A3)
- Tenor Saxophone, Flute, Percussion – Jan Kubík (tracks: A1, A2, B1, B2, B4)
- Arranged By (Instrumental), Electric Guitar – Pavel Fort (tracks: A1, A2, B1, B2)
- Arranged By (Instrumental), Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar – Ota Petrina (tracks: A3, B3, B4)
- Leader (Labyrint) – Pavel Fort
- Photography By – Vladimír Merta
- Producer [Umělecká Spolupráce] – Hynek Zalcik
Released in collaboration with the Mladý Svět magazine, Discotheque of Mladý Svět edition series. Recorded at the Supraphon studio Dejvice, Prague, from December 16, 1974, to September 3, 1976.