The 1953 Iranian coup d’état, known in Iran as the 28 Mordad Coup, was the overthrow of the first democratically electedPrime Minister of IranMohammad Mosaddegh on 19 August 1953, orchestrated by the United Kingdom’s MI6(Operation Boot) and the United States’s CIA(TPAJAX Project).
Mossadegh had sought to audit the books of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC), a British corporation (now BP) and to renegotiate the terms of the company’s access to Iranian oil reserves. Upon refusal of the AIOC to cooperate with the Iranian government, the parliament (Majlis) voted to nationalize the assets of the company and then, expel their representatives from the country. (!)
Following the coup, a military government under General Fazlollah Zahedi was formed which allowed exiled dictator Mohammad-Rezā Shāh Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran (Iranian king), to effectively rule the country as an absolute monarch.
By the ’70s, there was growing unrest with the Shah’s autocratic and repressive government along with its infamous police: the SAVAK. In January 1978 the first major demonstrations againstthe Shah occurred. After a year of strikes, clashes and millions of people on the streets, the country, and its economy were paralyzed.
The Shah fled Iran in January 1979, then Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned from exile to Tehran to establish the Islamic Republic,becoming the supreme leader.
Let’s go to our artist:
The golden age of Iranian pop music took place on a westernized and liberal Tehran of the ’60s and ’70s. This market offered an unprecedented way of artists for all tastes, the classically-trained Ramesh Azar Mohebbi(November 13, 1946) was part of it.
Playing the serious, quiet marquess in contrast toGoogoosh’s languorous pop princess, both singers made the papers every time they changed their haircuts and appeared on TV frequently. Ramesh’s appearance though was not as gay and colorful as the blond-haired and joyfully dancing singer-actress mate!
Ramesh appeared dark-haired, with stiffer hairstyles, always with a certain distance, never showing much of her emotions, except a somewhat melancholy of silence.
Belying what Light in the Attic promo-release says about the artist, Ramesh isn’t dead! Iranian Wiki, Youtube (!) and some musical blogs deny the fact. Its last song recording ‘Rumi’ (and album?) comes from 2003. Nowadays, she retired from the music business and glamorous spots to devote (only) to its family and daughter. (!)
Let’s go to our album:
I must admit, I’m very thrilled by the artist of today, this compilation by Pharaway Sounds is arguably one of the best, presenting us with a very rich scene that was the Iranian pre-revolution period. Other singers will be debuting here soon, ok?!
A funky queen whose rich voice sits like a mink coat, twirling its a melancholy way around long-necked lutes, sleazy Western brass, strings, synths and goblet drums. Luckily, the collection of videos with her performances on TV programs and Festivals are vast! You can appreciate them at the following links, check it out!
The ‘IM’ highlights are Mondanam Az Bodanet and Aroose Noghreh Poosh.
Alexander III of Macedon, better known as Alexander the Great, single-handedly changed the nature of the ancient world in little more than a decade.
Alexander was born in Pella, the ancient capital of Macedonia in July 356 BC. His parents were Philip II of Macedon and his wife Olympias. Alexander was educated by the philosopher Aristotle until the age of 16.
Philip was assassinated in 336 BC and Alexander inherited a powerful yet volatile kingdom. He quickly dealt with his enemies at home and reasserted Macedonian power within Greece. He then set out to conquer the massive Persian Empire.
Against overwhelming odds, he led his army to victories across the Persian territories of Asia Minor, Syria and Egypt without suffering a single defeat. His greatest victory was at the Battle of Gaugamela, what is now northern Iraq, in 331 BC.
The young king of Macedonia, leader of the Greeks, overlord of Asia Minor and pharaoh of Egypt became ‘great king’ of Persia at the age of 25. (!!)
Over the next eight years, in his capacity as king, commander, politician, scholar and explorer, Alexander led his army a further 11,000 miles, founding over 70 cities and creating an empire that stretched across three continents.
The entire area was linked together in a vast international network of trade and commerce. This was united by a common Greek language and culture, while the king himself adopted foreign customs in order to rule his millions of ethnically diverse subjects. Alexander was acknowledged as a military genius who always led by example, although his belief in his ownindestructibility meant he was often reckless with his own life and those of his thousands of soldiers.
The fact that his army only refused to follow him once in 13 years of a reign during which there was constant fighting, indicates the loyalty he inspired to his men.
Tihomir Pop Asanović (1948, Skopje, FYROM Macedonia)is one of the best ex-Yugoslavian keyboard players. He started with The Generals (Latin rock) in 1968 and played frequently across East European and German jazz clubs.
He was original line-up member of legendaryprog-rockTimetaking part in their celebrated eponymous debut album in 1972. During the mid-1970s he either played occasionally with Yu Grupa(classic) and Smak(jazz-prog), while in 1974, founded a supergroup called Jugoslovenska Pop Selekcija(The Yugoslavian Pop Selection), which gathered some of the best rock and jazz players of the era.
Together with a colleague from the Selection, vocalist Janez Bončina, he founded jazz-rock band September in 1975. After they disbanded in the late 70s he also joined in Boomerang (funk) and finally as a prominent session musician to then (phew), finish its career as a musical instruments dealer!
Happy 2014 to all our friends, I was away for a few days but we’ll resume gradually the number of posts, January is always a little slower, isn’t it? Today’s artist is a small (late) tribute to our Polish friends, nothing less than one of the biggest visitors of our page!
The culture of Poland is closely connected with its intricate thousand-year history. With origins in the culture of the Early Slavs, over time Polish culture has been profoundly influenced by its interweaving ties with the Germanic, Latinate and Byzantine worlds as well as in continual dialog with the many other ethnic groups. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the Polish focus on cultural advancement often took precedence over political and economic activity, these factors have contributed to the versatile nature of Polish art. Nowadays, Poland is a highly developed country, however, it retains its tradition.
Poland still suffers from a bad image in a way that people who are not from there see the country as the pool where your local painter, farm-help or building constructor comes from (sic). And those people lack the sophistication we, of course, had in our years after WWII, Right? Wrong!! (XO)
Let’s go to our history:
In fact, Poland has a long history of being one of the most cultural evolved countries in Europe. With an empire that once stretched from the East Sea to the Black Sea with an elective monarchy in the 16th century (probably the first of the western world). Thanks to Nicolaus Copernicus we finally found the scientific proof that the world was round! Musically Poland shows influences from composers like Chopin and folk music like the Mazurka, Bohemian Polka and Polonaise.
Not to mention in its world-famous writers and filmmakers like Adam Mickiewicz and Stanisław Lem; or legendaryAndrzej Wajda and Krzysztof Kieślowski.
Poland should be famous for its jazz scene during the communist regime and has an interesting pop and rock scene evolving in the 70s and 80s, with artists and acts like: Czesław Niemen, Novi Singers, Niebiesko-Czarni, Halina Frąckowiak, Big Band Katowice, SBB, Breakout, Marek Grechuta, and Stan Borys.
But let us return a little bit, to understand the darkest period of the country.
Started on the night of 1 September 1939, when Wehrmacht wore on their battle lines, Polish forces were the first to face the Germanwar machine, unfortunately, defeated in just over a month. Even with the 4th largest army, without the presence of the allies, any country would ever accomplish the deadly feat. The Soviets advanced on 17 September as agreed in the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact (split into two zones).
The Poles were the people most affected by WWII. There too the war ended in 1945, but the end of the conflict did not mean the liberation of the country. In 1945, Poland was a country dismantled, its western border had been pushed 500 kilometers to the west (!), in accordance with agreements made in November 1943 by Soviet Joseph Stalin with the then British Prime MinisterWinston Churchill and U.S. PresidentFranklin D. Roosevelt in Tehran. Millions of Poles living in the east were transferred to territories formerly under German rule. Warsaw was uninhabited and in ruins.
Six million Poles died in the conflict, of which more than 95% were civilians. (!!)
Czeslaw Milosz (writer and Nobel laureate) would recall: ‘For six years, Poland seemed a mechanized slaughterhouse, whose treadmill constantly carried the corpses of murdered human beings’ (!)
Intellectual, religious and noble were transported by the thousands to concentration camps or executed immediately. The goal was Germanizing Polish territories and transform the population into slave labor.
The main concentration camps were located in occupied Poland: Auschwitz, Treblinka, Sobibor, Belzec, Chelmno, and Maidanek. Only 10% of the 3.3 million Polish Jews managed to save themselves. The Polish resistance decided on two fronts: against the Germans a military struggle, against the Soviet Union, a policy.
In 1944, when the Red Army began to approach the east of the country, the Poles wanted to present them as masters of their own place. Planned so that, a few hours before the arrival of the Soviets, Warsaw take up arms to expel the Germans. The 1st of August 1944, the Polish resistance began fighting against the Nazis but was left in the hand by the Soviets, because Stalin refused to help. Soviet troops had been halted by Moscow across the banks of the Vistula River – at the gates of Warsaw – and watched 63 days of bitter fighting, with a balance of 200.000 Poles killed. (!)
The Germans dominated the uprising and drove the survivors out of the city that was completely ruined. Hitler even ordered the implosion of what was left standing, consecrating Warsaw as the most destroyed capital in WWII.
The Resistance was cruelly fought by Nazi occupiers, for each dead German, hundred Polish hostages were executed. Until today, the Warsaw uprising isn’t just a national trauma, but also a double symbol of resistance – against the Nazi terror and against Soviet oppression. Every year, the 1st of August, thousands of residents of the capital gather to pay tribute for the uprising.
1945 was the year of liberation from the German terror. The 60th anniversary of this date is remembered by Poles accordingly. But nobody forgets that Poland wasn’t free after the War. The communist regime installed by Moscow only made the Nazi terror be replaced by the Stalinist (sic).
The development of WWII, its battles and countless other situations will be addressed in future posts, this is just a small summary to contextualize, ok?!
Let’s go to our music:
With the coming of the world wars and then the Communist state, folk traditions were oppressed or subsumed into state-approved folk ensembles. The most famous state ensembles were Mazowsze and Śląsk. Though these bands had a regional touch to their output, the overall sound was a homogenized mixture of Polish styles. The whole field seems unhip to young audiences, and many traditions dwindled rapidly.
The entrance of Jazz music, much more appealing to the young audiences, shook up the Soviet structures, in the 50s. Changing once and for all the Polish soundscape.
Before WWII, bands playing in restaurants and bars of Warsaw, Krakow or Poznan already had jazz elements in their repertoire. After the war, the initial period of fascination by youngsters with jazz music was quickly suppressed by communist authorities. The Catacomb Periodtried to ban the genre, jazz was played unofficially as a piece of underground music, but two events helped to change that.
First, Stalin died in 1953 which brought a political change that brought freedom also in the field of art. Second, jazz pianist Dave Brubeck visited Poland which had an enormous impact, it was the beginning of the development of an authentic jazz movement and the start of Polish pop music.
During the 50s and 60s, Polish musicians reached for records of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, of hard-bop quintets as well as for the records of bands led by Miles Davis and John Coltrane. The main promoters of modern jazz during the 50s were Andrzej Trzaskowski, Jerzy Milian, Andrzej Kurylewicz, among others.
Polish popular music in the 60s was relatively tame compared to its Western contemporaries, mostly because the Communist government was rather skeptical about rock’n’rolland tried to limit its cultural influence on the young generation. In fact, to avoid trouble from the association, a new term was coined – big beat and its Polish-language equivalent, Mocne Uderzenie. The big beat performers were mostly imitating British stars of the time, sometimes adding elements of Polish folk music.
The 60s also brought Poland one of its most original artists, Czesław Niemen. He started out performing Latin and big beat songs, but soon transformed into a superstar when his protest song Dziwny Jest Ten Swiat (Strange Is This World) was applauded to no end at 1967 Opole Festival. The key to his success was not only an extraordinary voice and image but also very expressive, soul repertoire and poetic lyrics.
At the end of the decade, big beat finally gave way to more evolved rock genres, which would dominate the Polish scene in the following years: blues, soul, prog, disco, etc. The complete unfolding of the 70s will be studied at a later time, after this overview (phew!), let us return to today’s artist, shall we?!
Let’s go to our album:
Henry Debich (18 January 1921 – 4 July 2001) born and buried at Pabianice, was a Polish conductor, composer, arranger, and educator. Born in a family of musicians, his father, Bernard Debich, was a bandmaster from the factory’s orchestra. Before the war, he had private lessons on piano, trumpet, and trombone. He graduated in Theory, Composition and Conducting at Lodz Academy of Music.
During WWII, he was arrested on May 16, 1940, as part of a large share of the Lodz Gestapo, being placed in a camp in Radogoszcz, and then in Dachau. After the war, he took a job teaching in Pabianicka music school and began working with the Polish Radio. At the same time, he continued his studies at the Conservatory H. Kijeńska-Dobkiewiczowej, and studied music theory and conducting.
Debich was co-founder and since 1952 the conductor and artistic director, of The Entertainment Orchestra of Polish Radio and Television in Lodz. Being a multi-annual music director, conductor and juror at festivals in Opole, Sopot, Kolobrzeg and Zielona Gora. He was the second conductor of the Philharmonic Orchestra (1956-1958), and together with its ensembles, recorded music for over 20 films and released more than 50 Lp’s throughout its brilliant career!
As a conductor and arranger, the maestro worked with orchestras in Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Netherlands, Cuba, East Germany, Portugal, USSR and so on. He also collaborated with opera and Musical Theatre in Lodz.
Finally, some Polish jazz and funk to roll you upside down! It took a while for us to enter in Poland, this String Beat is almost a sum of every genre that was happening in a strong instrumental act: rock, soul, funk, fusion, soundtrack music, with lots of woodwinds and reeds. It is always good to see the intersection between classical and popular music, with some (dope and mellow) Western covers included.
The ‘IM’ highlights are Bez Metalu, straight from some Blaxploitation movie, this insane groove will leave your jaw open with every single aspect, the arrangement here is some real deal, get ready. And Kameleon, Hancock’s famous song, got a classy drapery here, with swinging guitars, flute/sax solos, and light synths. Frightful!
O Dara Irin Ajo!
A1 Na Opak (Z. Karwacki, J. Delong)
A2 Bez Metalu (M. Racewicz)
A3 Gry Flute (A. Żylis) – [Solos, J. Delong & Z. Karwacki]
A4 Oscypka (Z. Karwacki) – [Solos, A. Szczepański & K. Osiński]
A5 Standard In B (J. Malinowski) – [Solos, J. Delong & Z. Karwacki]
B1 Melodia Z Filmu “Shaft” (I. Hayes / M. Hoffmann)
B2 Opadający Widnokrąg (A. Żylis)
B3 Kameleon (H. Hancock) – [Solos, J. Malinowski &J. Olejniczak]
B4 Obladi – Oblada (J. Lennon, McCartney / M. Hoffmann)
Hungary. Following periods of successive habitation by Celts, Romans, Huns, Slavs, Gepids, and Avars, the foundation of Magyarország was laid in the late 9th century by the Hungarian grand prince Árpád. His great-grandson Stephen I ascended to the throne in 1000 AD, converting the country to a Christian kingdom. Hungary became a middle power and part of the Western world by the 12th century. After the Battle of Mohács and about 150 years of partial Ottoman occupation, Hungary became part of the Habsburg, and later formed part of the Austro–Hungarian Empire.
Hungary’s current borders were first established by the Treaty of Trianon (1920) after WWI. The country lost 71% of its territory, 58% of its population, and 32% of ethnic Hungarians. (!) On the side of the Axis Powers, Hungary also suffered great damages in WWII, during its four decades-long communist dictatorships (1947–1989), the country gained widespread international attention regarding the Revolution of 1956 and the seminal opening of its border with Austria in 1989, previously restricted by the Iron Curtain, which accelerated the collapse of the Eastern Bloc.
On 23 October 1989, Hungary again became a democratic parliamentary republic, and now it is a developed country, only standing behind Austria and Slovenia (its bordered countries) in HDI indices. Nowadays, Hungary is a very popular tourist destination attracting 10.2 million tourists a year!
Let’s go to our history:
The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 was a spontaneous nationwide revolt against the government of the People’s Republic of Hungary and its Soviet-imposed policies, lasting from 23 October until 10 November 1956. It was the first major threat to Soviet control since the USSR’s forces drove out the Nazis at the end of WWII and occupied Eastern Europe. Despite the failure of the uprising, it was highly influential and came to play a role in the downfall of the Soviet Union decades later.
The revolt began as a student demonstration, which attracted thousands as they marched through central Budapest to the Parliament building, calling out on the streets using a van with loudspeakers via Radio Free Europe. A student delegation entering the radio building to try to broadcast the students’ demands was detained. When the delegation’s release was demanded by the demonstrators outside, they were fired upon by the State Security Police (ÁVH) from within the building. As the news spread, disorder and violence erupted throughout the capital.
The revolt spread quickly across Hungary and the government collapsed. Thousands organized into militias, battling the ÁVH and Soviet troops. Pro-Soviet communists and ÁVH members were often executed or imprisoned and former prisoners were released and armed. Radical impromptu workers’ councils wrested municipal control from the ruling Hungarian Working People’s Party and demanded political changes. A new government formally disbanded the ÁVH, declared its intention to withdraw from the Warsaw Pact and pledged to re-establish free elections. By the end of October, fighting had almost stopped and a sense of normality began to return.
After announcing a willingness to negotiate a withdrawal of Soviet forces, the Politburo (Central Committee of the Communist Party) changed its mind and moved to crush the revolution. On 4 November, a large Soviet force invaded Budapest and other regions of the country. The Hungarian resistance continued until 10 November. Over 2,500 Hungarians and 700 Soviet troops were killed in the conflict, and 200,000 Hungarians fled as refugees. (!) Mass arrests and denunciations continued for months thereafter, by January 1957, the new Soviet-installed government had suppressed all public opposition. These Soviet actions, while strengthening control over Eastern Europe, alienated many Western Marxists.
But how music has been influenced over the years that followed? Let us understand a little that other context.
Hungarian popular music in the early 20th century consisted of light operettas and the Roma music of various styles. Nagymező Utca, the Broadway of Budapest, was a major center for popular music and boasted enough nightclubs and theaters. In 1945, however, this era abruptly ended and popular music was mostly synonymous with the patriotic songs imposed by the Russian Communists.
In 1956, however, liberalization began with the three Ts (tűrés, tiltás, támogatás, meaning toleration, prohibition, support), and a long period of cultural struggle began, starting with a battle over African-Americanjazz. Jazz became a part of Hungarian music in the early 20th century but did not achieve widespread renown until the 1970s, when Hungary began producing internationally known performers like the Benko Dixieland Band (below) and Bela Szakcsi Lakatos.
In the early 60s, Hungarian youths began listening to rock in droves, in spite of condemnation from the authorities. Three bands dominated the scene by the beginning of the 70s, Illés, Metró, and Omega, all three of which had released at least one Lp. A few other bands recorded singles, but the Record-Producing Company, a state-run record label, did not promote these bands, which quickly disappeared.
In 1968, the New Economic Mechanism was introduced, intending on revitalizing the Hungarian economy; in the 70s, however, the Russians cracked down on subversives in Hungary, and rock was a major target. (!) Illés was banned from performing and recording, while Metró and Omega left for exile. Some of the members of these bands formed a supergroup, Locomotiv GT, that quickly became very famous. Bands like Piramis and Skorpio kept the underground prog-rock scene alive. These bands also succeeded to get more in the mainstream by supporting female singers like Kati Kovács, Zsuzsa Koncz and Sarolta Zalatnay on their albums.
But further, rock bands in the late 70s mostly had to conform to the Record Company’s demands and ensure that all songs passed the inspection of the Song Committee, who scoured looking for ideological disobedience (sic). Locomotiv GT was the most prominent band of a classic rock style, along with Bergendy. Meanwhile, the disco style of electronic music produced such performers as the officially-sanctioned and praised Neoton Familia and Judith Szűcs.
The following decades saw the entrance and growth of punk, new wave, clubbing, electronic dance, as well as the end of the (infamous) Record Production Company and with the fall of the wall greater freedom of expression and paths.
Let’s go to our album:
Sarolta Zalatnayborn on December 14, 1947, as Charlotte Sacher, grew up in Budapest. At the age of 16 she auditions as a singer with the folk/jazz band Bergendy. They started recording old fashioned melodies but soon changed into more modern material. With the band she appeared in the Hungarian Television’s song contest named Táncdalfesztivál in 1963 with the song Hol Jár Az Eszem?
The band developed a style that would be known as Beat Ablak and Zalatnay was pushed forward as lead singer. In 1967 under her nickname Cini she won the contest with the song Nem Várok Holnapig, which was accompanied by the Hungarian rock group Omega. It gave her a chance for a study/trip to Paris and London in 1968-69 during which she got acquainted with the members of the Bee Gees group.
Back in Hungary in 1969 the musical climate already changed and with Metro, she records some singles before state label Qualitation releases her debut album Ha Fiú Lehetnék in 1970. Her breakthrough came when she performed in the alternative musical movie Szép Lányock, Ne Sírjatok. In 1971 she wins first prize in the Dance Song Contest with Fák, Virágok, Fény. With Locomotiv GT she started recording two follow up albums. Hitherto, her albums sold over 400.000 copies. (!)
In 1973 she broke with the LGT team to switch to Skorpio with whom she recorded the album Hadd Mondjam El including elements of funk, beat and synthesizer experiments. Responsible for this was pianist Gyula Papp. LGT meanwhile started to record with singer Kati Kovacs which turned competitive with Zalatnay. In 1974 she got married to Sándor Révész (singer of Piramis), but they divorced later on.
At the start of the eighties Zalatnay’s star started to fade next to a whole new musical scene, she turned to write an autobiography called New Vagyok En Apaca. In 1987 she married László Benedek and got a daughter in 1989. Since 1995 she also became active as chairman of the Hungarian Animal Protection and Nature Federation.
In 1995 she married her third husband Márton Csaba, a porn director. Although not a very faithful husband he swept Sarolta into a TV-production venture called CiNN TV, he also persuaded her to pose for Playboy! In 2004 she appeared in the Hungarian Big Brother days before she had to sit out a three-yearprison sentence for tax fraud. This also was the end of her marriage. In prison she worked in a new book and in 2009 she performed again for a documentary about her life. In February 2009 she released a second biography with a new album Magadat Vállalni Kell.
After this little lesson, we will stick to the album, perhaps her last great commercial success from the 70s, again she is accompanied by a great band: Karthago. Headlong into the Disco wave his romantic side also emerges in certain moments, in whole this is a bit different from Hadd Mondjam El but still deserves your care.
Sarolta has the voice of Janis Joplin with a Hungarian temper, a nose for good bands and a lascivious body. She was there at the forefront in the sixties and seventies with bands like Omega, Locomotiv GT and Skorpio. A phenomenon in Hungary and hardly known outside. Her career after 1990 has been laced with dodgy marriages, uncontrolled TV appearances and being prey for the paparazzi. Lately, she gets some recognition abroad due to a finders-keepersre-press released in 2009.
The ‘IM’ highlights are: Add Vissza a Babaruhát, a heavy clavinet funky-disco with Sarolta’s harsh voice, boogie chorus, synth-strings, light percussion and an invitation to not leave the dance floor, get down! And Karnevál a Hungarian attempt to portray the carnival, this stimulant song brings us a little of folklore guitars, woodwinds and a great performance from the diva by the end. Jó Utat!
A1 Széttört Tükörkép
A2 Mondd Nekem
A4 Add Vissza A Babaruhát
A5 Mindig Kell Egy Barát
B1 R’ And R’
B2 Százszor Visszaadok Mindent
B4 Hozzám Tartozol (feat. Máté Péter)
Backing Band – Karthago
Conductor (Orchestra) – Bolba Lajos
Directed by (Musical Director) – Kószás László
Engineer – Szita István
Written by – S. Nagy István, Máté Péter (A1 to A3, B1, B2, B5)
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 rationalistand 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 1960Constitution 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.