The wider context surrounding GOTGE

(Introductory ‘Sticky’ Blog post – Links also here)

‘The Story So Far’ portion of the GOTGE Blog was a way of illustrating the sheer rapidity of how this music scene crept up on me – a matter of still under a year, as I write. It was a partially redacted digest of the E-Mails I sent to my poor put-upon brother about my latest discoveries.

The reader will need to know the following to put GOTGE into its fullest context (demonstrating that GOTGE hasn’t arisen in a vacuum. There have been other events surrounding it.)

(a) In November 2014 my father just happened to switch on the local radio station as ‘I’ll Go Where Your Music Takes Me’, by Jimmy James and The Vagabonds was being played, which I overheard and was reminded of a French version of that song – ‘Ne raccroche pas, je t’aime’ by Carene Cheryl, of whom I first became aware some decade or so before that, after finding a photo of her in an old ‘Paris Match’  (dated 13th November 1976) which had been amongst a pile of old copies of that publication, dating from the Mid- to Late-1970s in our attic and wondered why I’d never heard of her – she coming from what I would call ‘my generation’. It fairly soon became clear to me that we were rapidly approaching the fortieth anniversary of the beginning of her recording career in January 1975, so I decided to start ordering her records on-line on the respective fortieth anniversaries of their original release. (Thus far, it’s been her first four singles and her first LP). More relevant facts in this respect are that she shares the same birthday as me, incredibly enough, she later (in 1978) changed stage name and image and became Karen Cheryl and that her real name is Isabelle Morizet and that under that name she currently presents (on the radio station Europe 1) two hour-long shows per week, interviewing personalities from various fields on Saturday and Sunday mornings (at 10.00 am UK time) entitled ‘Il n’y a pas qu’une vie dans la vie’. In addition to all this she was a Winner of the First Prize at France’s National Drumming Conservatoire. Finally, I have come to the perhaps controversial conclusion, in my following of her early recording career, that the later name- and image-change was a mistake and that her drumming talents should have been publicly marketed and will accordingly, with all respect to the person of Isabelle Morizet, be discontinuing my record-buying as soon as the fortieth anniversary of 1978 comes around.

The clip of Carene performing a live version of ‘Ne raccroche pas, je t’aime’ comes from an appearance on 30th January 1977 on the show ‘Musique and music’. During this episode, since her agricultural background was often traded on, she drove her father’s tractor and also led a cow onto the stage, improbable though that may sound, given the glamorous gown she was wearing!

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(Note the spelling ‘Carène Cheril’…it was fortunate that my initial searching on that mis-spelled term way back in 2004 found something. Otherwise my personal life history might have turned out somewhat differently!)

http://www.europe1.fr/emissions/il-n-y-a-pas-qu-une-vie-dans-la-vie

https://www.facebook.com/Morizet.Europe1/?hc_ref=NEWSFEED&fref=nf

The clip below of Carene being interviewed after playing a short drum solo comes from an edition of the TV magazine programme ‘Aujourd’hui madame’ dated 11th August 1976. If one has an outline understanding of the French language one will note that there is a reference to her being eighteen years of age at the time of the interview. If she had been born in 1955, as most Web-based sources quote her birth year, this would have been impossible! (That would have had her turning eighteen in 1973, circa one-and-a-half years before her recording career began!) That is why I am so confident that I am correct in quoting her birth year as 1957, which would have made her eighteen between 19th July 1975 and 18th July 1976. The actual interview itself would probably have been conducted shortly before she turned nineteen on 19th July 1976, therefore. If one has an outline understanding of French, likewise, one will note a reference to her previous ambitions for a career in Medicine.

https://player.ina.fr/player/embed/I15201198/1/1b0bd203fbcd702f9bc9b10ac3d0fc21/460/259/1

Elsewhere in that collection of old ‘Paris Match’ magazines (in an edition dated 31st December 1976 – so just a month or so before the aforementioned performance of ‘Ne raccroche pas, je t’aime’) one can see who the presenter of ‘Musique and music’ was – the great French entertainer, Jacques Martin, whose life and work was celebrated last November (21st) on a programme on France 2, entitled ‘On a tous en nous quelque chose de Jacques Martin’ (‘We’ve All Got A Bit Of Jacques Martin In Us’), a trailer for which one can see linked below. I suppose  one could call him a sort of ‘French Sir Bruce Forsyth’, in that context.

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http://www.programme-tv.net/videos/bandes-annonces/49717-on-a-tous-en-nous-quelque-chose-de-jacques-martin-france-2-samedi-21-novembre-2015/

(b) Some three or so years ago, in the series of re-broadcasts of ‘Top Of The Pops’, The New Seekers appeared singing ‘Anthem (One Day In Every Week)’ (incidentally, on the episode from the day after my 17th birthday on 19th July 1978, when I was actually out of the country for the first time in my life, on a schools’ exchange trip to Nienburg, about half-way between Bremen and Hannover). Since I was so impressed with it I looked into it on ‘YouTube’ and my attention was, in the process, (somewhat indirectly, clearly, since it is very difficult now to try to re-construct how that might have originally occurred), drawn to a lot of related material on the early-1970s group from Scotland, Middle Of The Road, which, in turn, led me to all manner of connections on the Continental Mainland (and in some cases way beyond) performing their own versions of MOTR songs. Amongst these was Hana Zagorová’s ‘Pan Tydlitýt a pan Tydlitát’. My careers advisor’s suggestion at the end of May 2015 made me think of matters Czech and since I’d found out all these things about Isabelle Morizet over the years I wondered what I’d find on Hana.

…and the video below was my first-ever encounter with the world that was to become GOTGE.

(c) Some years ago I brought a copy of the book ‘Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth’ out of the library. There was a chapter in the book devoted to the Dutch Girl Group of the late 1970s, LUV’, in whom I have have had an interest for some time. Also last Summer, as I was trawling through some old colleagues seeing if they had a LinkedIn presence, I encountered an old friend from The Netherlands, with whom I got in touch and since I was already in a musical groove from that period that got me thinking LUV’ thoughts all over again, which, at length, brought me in contact with all sorts of other Dutch Girl Groups of the late-1970s/early-1980s (plus the Belgian Girl Group of that sort of era, Venus…who, to keep the Eastern European connection going, clearly appeared on East German TV), making me realise that it was a Girl Group boom almost up there with that of Early-1960s America.

(d) Finally, since I have been looking into the Female Pop Music scene in Communist Europe from an era within my living memory, for the purposes of political balance I thought that looking into the other political extreme, Franco’s and Salazar’s Fascist regimes, respectively in Spain and Portugal, might be a good idea, using the 1971 Eurovision Song Contest Runner-Up, Karina, as a way into that. The video embedded below is not that ESC entry. It is one of those B-Sides (from 1969) that effectively ended up being treated as the A-Side, given its massive popularity and has gone down in Spanish Pop Music history as a record that defined both Karina’s career and that particular era and has even been referred to by some as an alternative national anthem. I was so inspired by it myself when I discovered it on-line back in December 2015 that I actually bought a copy of the original vinyl record forthwith.

I hope that this adequately sets out the wider context.

‘The Story So Far’ concludes with a summary of my experiences going to Slovakia for the first time in my life, variously to attend a concert marking the fortieth anniversary of the death of Eva Kostolányiová, in Bratislava and to visit the birthplace of Valérie Čižmárová, Michalovce.

A fellow Blog on this sort of subject: ‘Funky Czech-In’ – An introduction to Czech and Slovak pop music from the sixties, seventies and eighties with a touch of funk, soul, disco and jazz.

Another fellow Blog: ‘Interstellar Medium’ – Vintage Eastern/Western Pop from the 20th century, without necessarily being psychedelic! Spices, perfumes, tissues, seeds…, of which I have started to be a ‘Follower’….and which is now a ‘Follower’ of ‘Girls Of The Golden East’.

The first ‘Follower’ of ‘Girls Of The Golden East’: ‘Cue Castanets!’ – Musings on Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound and similar music….and going the opposite way around to the aforementioned Blog, ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ is now a ‘Folllower’ of ‘Cue Castanets!’, in return for the favour.

I have now had the very great privilege to have had my application to join the ‘Valérie ČIŽMÁROVÁ’ Facebook Group accepted as a gift to ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ for the New Year of 2017.

Aleš Korábek’s Valérie Čižmárová Fan Site.

My ‘About’ Page, with a link to direct E-Mail Contact Information

Všechno nejlepší k narozeninám, Alenka!

The day immediately following the day on which Valérie Čižmárová ‘dotted the Is and crossed the Ts’ of her eponymous LP, Alena Tichá celebrated her Thirtieth Birthday, so it’s a Happy Seventy-Third Birthday to Alenka today!

In many ways there is a lot to associate Alenka with the singer born just nineteen days previously and circa forty miles away, Vlaďka Prachařová – the one being born in Zlín (becoming known as Gottwaldov during the Communist era, before reverting to its old name) and the other in Brno – since they both have that gorgeous tone to the voice and, although Alenka is not quite such an obvious ‘sex bomb’ as Vlaďka, there is a ‘quiet sexiness’ there, which is entirely fitting, since the surname, ‘Tichá’ literally does mean ‘quiet’ (a somewhat inappropriate name for a singer, then!) Another thing that is entirely fitting is that her cover of The Archies’ ‘Sugar Sugar’ was entitled ‘Med a cukr’ (‘Honey And Sugar’), since that voice of hers is pure honey, as evidenced by this charming video of her covering of Laura Nyro’s ‘Hands Off The Man/Flim Flam Man’), ‘Dám vám lék’ (‘I Give You The Cure’). The music and original English-language lyrics were composed by Laura Nyro herself, with Czech-language lyrics by Jiří Kameš. Instrumental accompaniment came from Orchestr Studio Brno under Erik Knirsch and it was recorded at Čs. rozhlas Brno (Czechoslovak Radio Brno) on 19th October 1972. Like Valérie Čižmárová’s ‘Oči nelžou’, from slightly earlier that year, which drew my attention to Craig Scott’s ‘When Jo Jo Runs’, this is another one of those cases where an Eastern Bloc covering brings a song from the Western World to a UK-based listener’s awareness…and very grateful I am to Alenka for doing so. It is a cracker of a tune!

Going over to the other side of that 45 R.P.M. release, recorded on the same day, at the same location and with the same personnel comes ‘Náhody’ (‘Coincidences’), illustrating that, while the Czechoslovak record industry covered all the ‘good stuff’ coming from the West, it could come up with some fairly decent material of its own. The music was composed by Max Wittmann, with lyrics coming from Pavel Cmíral. If Max Wittmann could get together a tune like Helena Blehárová’s ‘Hodina ‘H” (‘Hour ‘H”) that is a fairly good indication of his qualities as a tunesmith. This is always a highly entertaining video, with a pair of rooftop dancers, too!

Alenka is one of those maybe exceptional artists from the Czech portion of the former Czechoslovakia to perform and record songs in Slovak. ‘Váhaš’ (‘You Are Hesitating’) is one of those songs, which would explain why this video is from ‘RETRO SLOVAK’. It is a great pity that I cannot seem able to track down any details about this, since I absolutely adore it. It is Pop-Soul of the highest calibre, in every way.

There are not too many contemporary insights into what day-to-day life was like for the GOTGE, but Alenka is an exception here, too. Many GOTGE readers may not be able to keep up with the language (which I take to be Slovak) in this very evocative video, but the images show that Czechoslovakia could provide stunning backdrops to videos from ruined Mediaeval castles to bang-up-to-date Modernist concourses. One will also spot that Alenka took on covers of Petula Clark’s ‘Don’t Sleep In The Subway’, Mary Hopkin’s Eurovision Song Contest entry, ‘Knock Knock, Who’s There?’ and Dana’s entry, ‘All Kinds Of Everything’.

Also of note is the following:

We see shots of Alenka at a blackboard. This is a nod towards her ‘day job’ as a schoolteacher – a career she resumed as her son started school around the end of the 1970s.

Her mother is shown helping out with Alenka’s fan mail.

Alenka does some singing practice with the help of one of those real old-school reel-to-reel tape recorders.

Perhaps Alenka could be thought of as one of the ‘petrolheads’ of the GOTGE Generation (despite us seeing her travelling by public transport!), since amongst her items of pride and joy is a model car collection. This probably chimes with her appearance in the various artists video of Songs from 1973, with her cover of Mouth & MacNeal’s ‘How Do You Do’, as ‘Láska je pes’ (‘Love Is A Dog’), driving a Škoda 110R ‘Rapid’, which I think would be my ‘dream car’.

So, I hope GOTGE readers will themselves appreciate the power of the ‘quiet’ woman.

As the former Leader of the Conservative Party, Iain Duncan Smith said during a speech at the Conservative Party Conference, “Never underestimate the power of a quiet man”. I think Alenka has rather more to recommend herself than ‘I.D.S.’ does, though!

 

Boldog születésnapot!

Just a brief notification to GOTGE readers that, on 10th April 1974, Valérie Čižmárová completed work on her eponymous LP with the recording of the concluding track, ‘Slova kolem nás’ (‘The Word About Us’). There was an intention to have an embedding of the track here, but domestic circumstances have militated against that today, so that is perhaps something for GOTGE readers to look forward to this time next year.

Nevertheless, I suppose that, since I have made reference to Valinka’s 1973 singles recordings as a sort of ‘virtual LP’ and LPs are the subject-in-hand, now would be a good excuse for the track listing for a real LP, on vinyl, on Supraphon, possibly entitled ‘Rok v životě Valérii Čižmárové’ (‘A Year In The Life Of Valérie Čižmárová’), with this piece of work by Vilém Sochůrek on the front cover (being a photo dating from 1973)…

Valerie_VS_Photo_Cover

…and this other piece of work by Vilém Sochůrek, from the same year, on the rear…

ateliér sochůrek

Strana 1:

‘Tak měj mě rád’ (‘So Just Love Me’)

‘Mít aero a létat’ (‘To Have A Plane And To Fly’)

‘Pojď jen dál’ (‘Just Come On’)

‘Sbohem, školní bráno’ (‘Farewell, School Gate’)

‘Důkaz mi dej’ (‘Prove It To Me’)

‘V poschodí pátém’ (‘On The Fifth Floor’)

 

Strana 2:

‘Malý princ’ (‘Little Prince’)

‘Žar léta’ (‘The Glow Of The Years’)

‘Láska na dlani’ (‘Love In The Palm Of The Hand’)

‘Náhodou’ (‘By Chance’)

‘Spousta příběhů’ (‘Lots Of Stories’)

‘Zrzek’ (‘Redhead’)

That’s what you call a proper six-on-each-side set! (and what an end to the First Side and beginning of the Second!)

Watch that fly off the record shop shelves!

Go on, Supraphon…you know you want to! (Sometime in 2023…to mark fifty years down the line, perhaps?)

There’s one ready-made customer somewhere in the UK 😉

Boldog születésnapot!

Valérie Čižmárová had started her recording career releasing two records on the smaller Panton label and – after turning eighteen – had recently been ‘promoted’ to the larger Supraphon label for her first serious smash-hit, ‘Léta letí’/’Dávno nejsem hloupá’ (‘Time Flies’/’I Haven’t Been Crazy For A Long Time’), when – after now turning nineteen – she recorded ‘Za sluncem, za vodou’ (‘In Sunshine, In Water’) on 5th April 1971, so it’s a ‘Happy Birthday!’ to this short-but-very-sweet blast of driving ‘Eastern Soul’ (under two minutes long), which was Valinka’s entry that year in the Děčínská Kotva (Děčín Anchor) Festival – the ‘answer’ in the Czech portion of the former Czechoslovakia to the Slovak portion’s Bratislavská Lýra (Bratislava Lyre) Festival.

It was recorded at the Studio in Dejvice, Prague and the music was composed by Ivan Šendera, making it Valinka’s first fully natively composed release on Supraphon, unlike ‘Léta letí’ and ‘Dávno nejsem hloupá’, which had been covers of Giorgio Moroder’s own ‘Looky, Looky’ and Harvey Price’s and Daniel Walsh’s ‘Sha-La Love You’ for Lancelot Link and The Evolution Revolution, respectively. Lyrics were by Jana Hornofová and instrumental accompaniment came from Karel Vlach se svým orchestrem (Karel Vlach and his Orchestra), with backing vocals from Sbor Lubomíra Pánka (The Lubomír Pánek Singers).

If Ivan Šendera demonstrated that composers from the former Eastern Bloc could lay down Soul on paper every bit as storming as that from composers in the Western/English-speaking World, the then fifty-nine-year-old Karel Vlach (born on 8th October 1911, in what would then have been the Austro-Hungarian Empire) also shows that he could drive it along with just as much gusto as, say, The Funk Brothers might have done at Tamla Motown. It isn’t everybody who associates Soul Music with the Austro-Hungarian Empire (wasn’t that all about Waltzes?) but I do! However, ultimately, it was down to the singer more than forty years his junior fully to bring the whole enterprise to life with her (as always) mature-beyond-her-years delivery.

The pre-twenty Valinka never fails to astound!

…and she puts the ‘Hungarian’ into the Austro-Hungarian Empire!

Finally, here are some photos of the great child of the Austro-Hungarian Empire himself – first, with that other GOTGE, Marcela Laiferová…

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…and second, with Valinka herself.

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Re-united in Musical Heaven

Today should have been the sixty-sixth birthday of Jana Robbová, who sadly passed away on 4th August 1996, at the young age of forty-five. Under very sad circumstances this links in with current events inasmuch as, during a concert on Wednesday 22nd March,  in the town of Čáslav, through which I travelled on the way from Prague to Žďár nad Sázavou during my recent stay in the Czech Republic, Věra Špinarová collapsed with heart trouble. She was rushed away to hospital in Prague, but never regained consciousness and passed away on Sunday 26th March, leaving all those from the GOTGE Generation in the former Czechoslovakia and those who are fans of Věrka’s (and even fans of her erstwhile rival, Valérie Čižmárová, like Aleš Korábek) in utter shock.

Here is the photo I took of the railway station in Čáslav.

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It is very ironic that three of the youngsters of the GOTGE Generation, who would all have been under twenty as 1970 rolled around to 1971 – Janka, Věrka and Valinka – have been amongst the first to depart this World. It is not only their comparatively young years that connect the three. They were all considered to be ‘the Little Ladies with the Huge Voices’ and – as a self-confessed Valinka Fan – I regard it as an almost ridiculous honour that, during the documentary on Valinka’s life and work, ‘Příběhy slavných – Léta letí’, it was remarked that, whereas Valinka might have envied Věrka’s regular backing band and tighter professional support network, which probably enabled Věrka’s recording output to be more prolific, even one with such a gigantic voice as Věrka’s conceded that, in terms of vocal quality, that aforementioned envy was returned in full.

Regarding the Valinka versus Janka rivalry I have heard it remarked that their respective repertoires would not always have entirely overlapped, since they approached the Music Biz with differing influences. In this respect it is interesting to note that both Věrka and Janka were referred to as ‘the Janis Joplin of Czechoslovakia’. I doubt that anybody would have dreamed of referring to Valinka in such terms. Her voice was far too melodic for that! It is therein that I theorise that Věrka’s envy of Valinka’s voice lay. One also cannot lose sight of the fact that Valinka was brought up in a Hungarian-speaking household about as far away from the nation’s capital as one could get, so, singing the vast majority of her repertoire in Czech, with some Slovak-language exceptions as her first single, ‘Sunny’, she was effectively singing in a foreign language…and being first-class at it. This is an opportunity, incidentally, to set the record straight regarding Valinka’s true ethnic background. Although she was buried in the Nový židovský hřbitov (New Jewish Cemetery) I have been informed that this was not through being herself Jewish. The Kind Family, with whom she was interred, were apparently close friends and it was that reason that led to her being buried there, which might go some way towards explaining why, in photos I have encountered of Valinka in later life, she was wearing crucifixes, which I found very difficult to square with being buried in a Jewish cemetery.

Returning to the subject-in-hand it has long struck me as being remarkable that my journey of musical discovery throughout the Continental Mainland of the 1970s has taken me from one female artist who began her recording career at seventeen, Carene (later, Karen) Cheryl to another, Valinka herself. Regarding rivalries it is almost impossible to overlook Carene’s with her senior label-mate at Disques Carrère, before Carene broke away with her Producer/Mentor, «Mémé» Ibach, to Disques Ibach, Sheila (later Sheila B. Devotion). Given the multifarious life in the public eye of Carene/Karen Cheryl and her ‘real-life’ identity of Isabelle Morizet it has, ever since I got to know the full story of their respective careers, been my impression that, whereas Sheila is the ‘Great Specialist’ in Pop – the ultimate Pop Star – Isabelle/Carene/Karen is the ‘Great Generalist’ – singer, talented drummer, TV and radio host and comedy actress. It is also interesting to note that the young Carene Cheryl was ‘groomed’ (although that word does, nowadays, have negative connotations) as ‘the New Sheila’….just like, at the Divadlo Rokoko, Valinka was sort of ‘groomed’ as ‘the New Helena Vondráčková’.  This is where there was a qualitative difference, I think, between Janka and Věrka on the one hand (arguably, ‘Great Specialists’ both in Pop and Rock) and Valinka on the other – a ‘Great Generalist’, with a background in Jazz as well as Pop and Rock and who would go on to make her own comedy creation, the character, Maria Drevokocúriková, trading on her ‘down-home-ness’, like Carene, the farmer’s daughter. Although, Michalovce is rather more provincial than Poissy – the former being on the very fringes of the nation and the latter being in what could be termed ‘the French Home Counties’ .

So, the three ‘Little Ladies with the Huge Voices’ are finally re-united as a ‘Holy Trinity’ in Musical Heaven.

I have perhaps implied, in GOTGE, that Valinka’s eponymous LP, recorded in 1974 and released in 1975, could have been a stronger set than it eventually was. Even as a Valinka Fan, I would perhaps concede that it wasn’t the classic LP that Věrka’s ‘Andromeda’, from 1972, had been. However, I am beginning to wonder if Valinka’s spectacular run of singles recordings from 1973 could be regarded as a sort of ‘virtual LP’ in answer to ‘Andromeda’…almost as if to say, “I might not be the album-recording Rock Legend that you are, but I could still be the Queen of the Singles”. So, in that respect, despite the second-LP-that-never-was of Hungarian Rock and Roll from the early 1980s, maybe we did get two LPs out of Valinka’s recording career…only one of them wasn’t called as such!

Sorry about the lack of videos here. It’s a bit difficult to do justice to what I’ve had to write all in one go! As time goes on I’m sure it will become evident just what I mean. Anyway, there’s a very juicy Valinka recording anniversary to look forward to tomorrow, so ‘normal service’ will be resumed at GOTGE after this very dramatic development.

Finally, continuing the parallels between events in the Czechoslovakia of the early 1970s and those in the France of the mid-/late 1970s, it is gratifying, in the case of the former, to note that this was a thoroughly professional rivalry – not the almost personal rivalry that emerged from the internecine power struggles at Carrère.

 

 

 

 

Všechno nejlepší k narozeninám, Vlaďka!

Since today is the birthday of Vlaďka Prachařová this would seem to be a good ‘excuse’ to introduce this spectacular artist to GOTGE readers – an artist who could be described as coming from the ‘reserve squad’ of the GOTGE Generation, demonstrating that the Czechoslovakia of the time had so much female talent at their disposal that a personality such as Vlaďka could substantially be done without. It is notable that my acquaintances out there in cyberspace who are fellow fans of Valérie Čižmárová – ‘591010710’, or Aleš Korábek and ‘zappatx’, or Ches Cain – have been leaving comments on some of her videos, variously heaping praise on Vlaďka and enquiring if she is still alive, which, I am relieved to report, she is and will have turned seventy-three today. Given Valinka’s talents I would say that praise from quarters such as that shows that Vlaďka must have been cut from very similar cloth and I wholeheartedly concur. The voice bears all the right hallmarks – power, depth and aural beauty and dare I say that the aural beauty is fully matched by her physical beauty – as Aleš remarked about Valinka in his interview in the documentary on Valinka’s life and work, ‘Příběhy slavných – Léta letí’, “I was impressed in every way”, I think it can safely be said that the same could be said in Vlaďka’s case.

So, to celebrate the birthday, here is just a small sample of Vlaďka’s work.

The way into the world of GOTGE was one of the many coverings of Middle Of The Road’s songs, so let’s kick off with Vlaďka’s more impressive Czech-language version of ‘Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep’, yea, even in comparison with the great Věra Špinarová’s ‘Táta Jan’ (‘Papa John’), ‘Nejdu, nejdu ven’ (‘I’m not going, I’m not going out’). This was recorded on 30th July 1971 at Čs. rozhlas Praha (Czechoslovak Radio, Prague), past which I walked on the way between the Prague Hostel Cathedral and the City Centre during my stay in the city back in January.

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The music was composed by Lally Stott, with Czech-language lyrics by Eduard Krečmar. Accompaniment came from Taneční orchestr Čs. rozhlasu (The Czechoslovak Radio Dance Orchestra) under Josef Vobruba.

From the previous year comes a glimpse into what must have been a hectic day for Vlaďka on 18th August 1970, ‘Hele Kid’ being recorded at Studio Žižkov, in Prague and ‘Hrací strojek’ (‘Musical Instrument’) being recorded in Vlaďka’s home city of Brno, at Čs. rozhlas Brno (Czechoslovak Radio Brno). The music for the former was by Richard Gottehrer (originally as ‘Beat The Clock’) and the Czech-language lyrics by Pavel Cmíral. The music for the latter was by Jiří Kolísek, with lyrics also by Pavel Cmíral. In both cases, accompaniment came from Studio Brno, under Erik Knirsch. In the video for ‘Hele Kid’ can be spotted Karel Gott and Ladislav Štaidl, both recently featured in GOTGE.

I have previously featured Czech-language and English-language interpretations of Gerry Goffin and Carole King’s classic for Little Eva, ‘The Loco-Motion’ – from the mid-1960s by Eva Kostolányiová and Eva Máziková and from the early 1980s by Hana Zagorová. In 1972, Vlaďka turned her very able hand to the tune, with ‘Anděl strážný’ (‘Guardian Angel’). Czech-language lyrics were by Miroslav Černý, with accompaniment coming from Orchestr Karla Vágnera (The Karel Vágner Group) and backing vocals from Jezinky.

Talking of Hana Zagorová, take a look at this thriller of a video of a performance from 1971 – not obviously related to any actual vinyl release, unfortunately – of the song, ‘Táhni se svým hříchem dál’ (‘Drag your sin away’). Also talking of Hana Zagorová, what may go some way towards explaining why she and Vlaďka were appearing in association with each other is the aforementioned accompanying group for ‘Anděl strážný’. Hanička would go on to have a very close association with Orchestr Karla Vágnera, they being the regular backing group for Hanička’s own TV show of the early 1980s, ‘Dluhy Hany Zagorové’ and, furthermore, they were also the backing band for Hanička’s own Czech- and English-language interpretations of ‘The Loco-Motion’, the former being entitled ‘Diskohrátky’.

Leaving the finest to last, we have seen Martha and Tena Elefteriadu singing in a cavern in GOTGE before. Here is Vlaďka performing, in 1973, in a similar environment, one of those songs that could be described as Reggae/Ska from east of the former Iron Curtain, ‘Mistr Flint’.

There may have been a few tears shed over yesterday’s outrage in Westminster during this last day or two. Mine today have been tears of awe-struck admiration at Vlaďka at the many other videos there are ‘out there’ of this apparently half-forgotten star…who is a real star. I love this woman so much!

Boldog születésnapot!

The day after having recorded ‘Byl’s má bój’ (‘It Was A Fight’), ‘Démantová zem’ and ‘Proč si to brát’ (‘Why Get Married To That’) on this date in 1974 Valérie Čižmárová reached the penultimate stage of recording her eponymous LP at the studio at Dejvice, Prague, with just one recording date to go, on 10th April, recording the opening track, consisting of a medley of three of her ‘oldies’, plus the song written by Petra Černocká, ‘Koukej, se mnou si píseň broukej’ (‘Look, Hum The Song With Me’), that its composer should have showcased at the Bratislavská Lýra Festival the previous year, but, due to her indisposition, had called Valinka to the rescue to perform it on her behalf – an incident which strikes one as supremely ironic inasmuch as Valinka was, as far as could be made out, quite a heavy smoker and it was that that, I suspect, may have had an impact on her health in later life, whereas, according to what I have been reading in Petruška’s book, ‘Co mě maminky (ne)naučily’ (‘What My Mums Taught Me (Not)’) the latter was, so it would seem, a keen sportswoman in her youth and is still alive and kicking today. I wonder if Valinka might quite cheekily have suggested to Petruška at that time to take up smoking, since it might have done her some good!

The other songs in the medley were as follows: ‘Koko’ (the fifth single: Valinka’s cover of The Sweet’s ‘Co-Co’, with music by Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman and Czech-language lyrics by Vladimír Poštulka), ‘Léta letí’ (‘Time Flies’) (the third single: Valinka’s cover of Giorgio Moroder’s ‘Looky, Looky’, with music by Giorgio Moroder and Pete Rainford and Czech-language lyrics by Vladimír Poštulka), ‘Sunny’ (the first single: Valinka’s cover of Bobby Hebb’s ‘Sunny’, with music by Bobby Hebb and Slovak-language lyrics by Ali Brezovský).

It was arranged by Mirko Krebs, instrumental accompaniment coming from Karel Vlach se svým orchestrem (Karel Vlach and his Orchestra) with backing vocals from Sbor Lubomíra Pánka (The Lubomír Pánek Singers), with production from Mojmír Balling, Jan Hrábek and Květoslav Rohleder, sound engineering from František Řebíček and Jiří Brabec and technical co-operation from Milan Svoboda and Jiří Rohan.

Here is that medley courtesy of ‘Valentisekk’, AKA, so far as I can ascertain, the party who approved my admission to the  the ‘Valérie ČIŽMÁROVÁ’ Facebook Group , Pepa Zýka, with ‘that’ immortal Vladivoj Burjanek photo from the rear cover of the LP.

Although I, of course, am a ‘Valinker’ (the name I’d like to coin as a fan of Valinka) and the medley was an interesting re-interpretation of those ‘oldies’ and that Petra Černocká song I cannot help but feel that, since this ended up as Valinka’s one and only LP, that opening ring of vinyl could have been filled with something brand new and that, as such, it was maybe a missed opportunity and that there is something slightly saddening about it, almost as if to indicate that her best days were behind her. However, at that time, nobody could have known that it was going to be the only chance for her to record an LP, so is that the proverbial twenty-twenty vision of hindsight talking?

 

Boldog születésnapot! (x3)

A week on from the recording of ‘Koňskou dráhou’ and ‘Žokej’ – the former for her eponymous LP and the latter for release on a single – Valérie Čižmárová was back in action at the recording studio in Dejvice, Prague for another two-day session, on the first of those days recording the following tracks: ‘Byl’s má bój’ (‘It Was A Fight’), ‘Démantová zem’ and ‘Proč si to brát’ (‘Why Get Married To That’), so it is a ‘Happy Birthday!’ to those three tracks.

Out of those three, perhaps the stand-out track has to be ‘Byl’s má bój’, which, in a case of symmetry with ‘Koňskou dráhou’, is the third track on Side Two (if one counts the medley of four ‘oldies’ that kicks off the album as all one track), as ‘Koňskou dráhou’ is the third track on Side One. The music for ‘Byl’s má bój’ was by Vít Clar, with lyrics by Ronald Kraus, instrumental accompaniment coming from Karel Vlach se svým orchestrem (Karel Vlach and his Orchestra). Arrangement was by Jiří Svoboda. Musical direction was by Mojmír Balling, Jan Hrábek and Květoslav Rohleder. Sound engineering was by František Řebíček and Jiřího Brabec. Technical co-operation came from Milan Svoboda and Jiří Rohan.

Here are Ronald Kraus’ lyrics – adapted, as best as I can, from an IMTranslation automated translation – courtesy of Aleš Korábek’s Valérie Čižmárová Fan Site

As can be detected, unlike ‘Koňskou dráhou’, this is no wistful fantasy on ‘the good old days’. Instead, there has clearly been quite a bust-up and Valinka’s powerful singing gives vent to the frustration, but the ending shows that independence of spirit born of the wilds of the far East of Slovakia.

Slza bývá jako dým štiplavá,
když nevěřím v návrat Tvůj

A teardrop is like a pungent smoke,
if I do not believe in Your return

Sladká přání se solí,
jednoho dne přebolí

Sweet wishes with salt,
one day is passing

Stůj co stůj

Come what may

Včera dlaň má plná hvězd,
dneska bláto dlouhých cest,
vzdušné zámky na pět západů

Yesterday, a palm full of stars,
tonight the mud of long journeys,
castles in the air at five at sunset

Možná zítra jasný den,
vykouzlí zas nový sen z mých snů

Maybe tomorrow a clear day,
conjures up a new dream again of my dreams

Byl’s má bój,
snad dříve byl’s mým přáním,
byl’s má bój,
teď sbohem dát Ti smím

It was a fight,
perhaps sooner wert my wishes,
it was a fight,
Now I may bid You goodbye

Jdi si dál po cestě sám,
vyřiď známým pěšinám pozdrav můj

Go on down the road alone,
convey my greetings to the familiar footpath

Řekni koutku s lavičkou,
že vzpomínky odejdou

Tell corner with a bench,
that will leave memories

Stůj co stůj

Come what may

Oschne bláto na cestách
a má dlaň zas ve hvězdách,
do vlasů si pár z nich rozhodím

Dries the mud on the road
and my hand again in the stars
a few of them sprinkled on my hair

Mraky shodí zimní plášť,
po těch cestách každý zvlášť jít smí

Clouds shedding winter coat,
After those travelling separately must go

Byl’s má bój,
já teď už mám kam jít,
já o smích ani o pláč neprosím

It was a fight,
now I’ve got nowhere to go,
I do not need any help for my laughing and crying

If there is an implication that it is widely agreed that ‘Koňskou dráhou’ should have been a single maybe ‘Byl’s má bój’ should have been its flip side.