Improbably, I am getting this specifically Valérie Čižmárová-related post together at ‘Girls Of The Golden East’, when I have a perfectly good blog over at ‘Bananas For Breakfast’ dedicated to that singer. So, in a manner of speaking, this is something of a trip down memory lane to before April 2017, when ‘Bananas For Breakfast’ was founded, but it will all make sense why I am doing so in the end!
Why this is happening is down to a recent chance discovery that Bobby Hebb’s ‘Sunny’, which, along with ‘Čekám’ (‘I Am Waiting’) was Valérie Čižmárová’s recording fifty-two years ago today, as I write – please see over at the ‘Valérie Čižmárová: A Life In Sound’ page of ‘Bananas For Breakfast’ – had also been released (in 1967) by a singer called Bisera Veletanlić, from the former Yugoslavia. I concede that there are probably going to be several ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ readers who might question the mentioning an artist from outside the former Soviet Bloc, even though Yugoslavia was a Communist country at a blog dedicated to that Bloc, but, on the basis that I have referred to singers from France, Spain, West Germany, Sweden – Sweden’s Nina Lizell also having released her own cover of ‘Sunny’, in 1970, as referred to at this ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ Blog post – and even the United Kingdom itself at this blog I think it should not be regarded as an undue deviation. The former Yugoslavia has long been, for me, a sort of ‘noises-off’ the main stage of the former Soviet Bloc, so this is a chance for it to take centre stage here for a short while!
Bisera Veletanlić was born on 15th September 1942 in Sisak, in present-day Croatia, even though she is described as ‘Serbian’. Her older sister – by some way – Senka Veletanlić, born on 27th May 1936 in Zagreb, so will be celebrating her 85th Birthday tomorrow, but herself described as ‘Bosnian’, is also a singer.
Here is her interpretation of ‘Sunny’, which is somewhat more in keeping with the rhythm of Bobby Hebb’s own version than is Valérie Čižmárová’s, with Serbo-Croat-language lyrics by Đorđe Novković, Nada Zej and Bisera Veletanlić herself and instrumental accompaniment from Orkestar Esada Arnautalića (The Esad Arnautalić Orchestra) .
…and here are those two sisters in action together in 1972 on the TV show ‘Obraz uz obraz’ (‘Face To Face’).
When thinking about the Yugoslavia of the early 1970s my thoughts are inevitably drawn to one of the two penfriends my older brother had at that time, the one being Denis Boulet of Morsang-sur-Orge, near Paris, who actually visited us in the spring of 1972 and the other – rather more ‘exotic’ one – being Milica Zarić of Zabrežje, Obrenovac, near Belgrade, not to be confused with the famous actress of that name! We had a taste of the sort of music Denis was into when, as a present to my brother, he brought over a copy of Les Compagnons de la chanson’s ‘Merci Satchmo’, backed by ‘Ma terre’ (‘My Land’).
According to my brother, Milica’s great favourites at the time were The Netherlands’ Shocking Blue, whose big hit of now over half-a-century ago, ‘Venus’ kicked off the Eurovision Song Contest, as alluded to at the immediately preceding ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ Blog post, from Rotterdam last Saturday (22nd May). Here is an article by Gordon Coxhill, as mentioned at one of my other great interests, ‘Fonts In Use’, in the ‘New Musical Express’ of 28th February 1970, on Shocking Blue.
It’s strange that at that recent ‘Fonts In Use’ font use contribution of mine there is also mention made of Eva Kostolányiová, since Eva (as Eva Kostolányi) just happened to do a Slovak-language cover of ‘Venus’ as ‘Hej, chlapče’ (‘Hey, Lad’) in 1970, with music by Robbie van Leeuwen, Slovak-language lyrics by the famous actor/comedian Milan Lasica, instrumental accompaniment by Sexteto Ľuba Beláka ( Ľubo Belák Sextet), with production being by Igor Wasserberger.
So, via France, Yugoslavia and The Netherlands, we’ve finally made our way back to the former Soviet Bloc, so this ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ Blog post isn’t such a ‘deviation’, after all!