Všechno nejlepší k 75. narozeninám, Helenko!

The last ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ Blog post made reference to a visit to my Auntie Sheila’s house that coincided with, variously, Argent and Gilbert O’Sullivan appearing on the Third Edition (of only six in total) of the show ‘2 Gs And The Pop People’ and with Helena Vondráčková’s Twenty-Fifth Birthday, today being her Seventy-Fifth.

Sadly, my cousin Bridget, referenced in the ‘Burton Observer & Chronicle’ article featured at this previous ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ Blog post, recently passed away at the age of only sixty (my own age, coincidentally) and her funeral took place on Tuesday 21st June, which strangely was half-a-century on from the day I first experienced a passing of a family member, when I was just ten years old, in the shape of Auntie Sheila’s husband, Uncle Henry. Rather than the stress of the funeral I thought that I would mark this occasion with an epic walk all the way from Belper to Melbourne to drop by my Auntie Sheila’s and Uncle Henry’s old place at 7, North Street and then to make my way to St. Bride’s Farm, Stanton-by-Bridge, in the end missing a last bus back to Derby so dragging myself back as far as Harvey Road for a short night and early morning near an all-night garage and eventually making my way back home shortly after eight o’clock on Wednesday morning!

Here are the photos I took on the way, by the River Derwent for a short picnic, over the old railway bridge over the River Trent on the Derby-Melbourne cycle path/footpath, 7, North Street, 45, North Street (my Nan’s old place, my maternal grandmother), ‘Mount Villa’ (my great Auntie Edna’s and Uncle George’s place on George Street), St. Bride’s Farm, the sunrise from the Spider Bridge, Allenton, Derby and a car from Helena Vondráčková’s Divadlo Rokoko (Rococo Theatre) successor, Valérie Čižmárová’s home town of Michalovce somewhere along Osmaston Road, Derby.

Exactly half-a-century on from the time when that edition of ‘2 Gs And The Pop People’ would have been on the television (6.30 pm – 7.15 pm) I took recordings, earlier this evening, variously of Argent’s ‘Hold Your Head Up’, played on that show, the excellent B-Side to ‘Hold Your Head Up’, ‘Keep On Rollin”, both written and produced by Rod Argent and Chris White, (fittingly, on the Epic label!) Helena Vondráčková’s ‘Jdi o dům dál’ (‘Pass On To The Next House’)…

Recorded 23rd November 1968, Dejvice studio, Prague Music: Bohuslav Ondráček Lyrics: Zdeněk Rytíř
Instrumental Accompaniment: Orchestr Golden Kids, conducted by Josef Vobruba Backing Vocals: Václav Neckář, Marta Kubišová

…and ‘Vládce našich dni’ (‘The Leaders Of Our Days’), the latter a cover of ‘What’s It Gonna Be’ variously by Dusty Springfield, Barbara Acklin and Susan Barrett.

Recorded 4th November 1968, Dejvice studio, Prague Music: Mort Shuman and Jerry Ragovoy

Lyrics: Zdeněk Rytíř Instrumental Accompaniment: Orchestr Golden Kids, conducted by Josef Vobruba Backing Vocals: Marta Kubišová, Waldemar Matuška and Václav Neckář

Record Cover: Bohumil Šejda

…and finally a ‘Parade Of Pops’ LP treatment of the song that Gilbert O’Sullivan performed on that edition of ‘2 Gs And The Pop People’, ‘Ooh-Wakka-Doo-Wakka-Day’.

Here they are embedded in that order.

All Singing, All Dancing, But Short-Lived

Tonight I would ordinarily have been following ‘my’ band, Godfrey’s Grit ‘n’ Soul Band at the Horse and Groom in Derby in a first gig in the city for a very long time, but with it being an indoor performance and taking into account the fact that I am in an at-risk group in respect of the ongoing threat of COVID-19 a crowded pub with large numbers of unmasked people is still a little on the problematical side for such as myself.

I did mention to Roger Smith, the bass player and spokesperson of the group, that, to keep me busy this evening, I still had a noteworthy half-century anniversary with ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ connections regarding a certain Pop music-related show that was as short-lived as it was clearly quite inventive and entertainingly packaged, lasting for a grand total of six editions, the first thereof going out on the evening of Saturday, 10th June 1972, therefore, half-a-century ago to the day as I write, the other five editions being on the 17th and 24th June and the 1st, 8th and 15th July. The show in question was ‘2 Gs And The Pop People’, so named because of Dougie Squires’ successor troupe to The Young Generation, The Second Generation, the resident troupe on ‘2 Gs And The Pop People’. The really bizarre thing about ‘2 Gs And The Pop People’ is that it is connected with a strange, clear memory of having caught a little bit of the edition that brought the first half of the show’s all-too-brief run to its conclusion, while at my aunt’s house one June evening in Melbourne, South Derbyshire, Melbourne and the immediately surrounding area being a very big part of my childhood through being the home of both branches of my family, despite my particular branch thereof decamping northwards to Belper in Mid-Derbyshire.

The edition that was was that of 24th June, therefore the significant day in the life of the predecessor at the Divadlo Rokoko (Rococo Theatre) to the Valérie Čižmárová, for whom I run the ‘sister Blog’ to ‘Girls Of The Golden East’, ‘Bananas For Breakfast’, Helena Vondráčková, that being the day she reached her quarter-century mark, having been born on 24th June 1947. Interestingly enough, with 1972 being a leap year, that year had that ‘constellation’ of both Helena Vondráčková’s and Valérie Čižmárová’s birthdays being on the same day of the week, as happened during leap years when Valérie Čižmárová was still alive, Valérie Čižmárová’s Saturday birthday that year being the day immediately preceding the infamous ‘Bloody Sunday’ in Northern Ireland, which I suppose connects very closely to her cover of Paul McCartney’s ‘Give Ireland Back To The Irish’, ‘Synu můj’ (‘Son Of Mine’), recorded a day less than a month before that edition of ‘2 Gs And The Pop People’ went out. What sticks in my mind from the edition I recall seeing at my aunt’s house is the appearance of Argent on that particular show, complete with the trademark witty captions appearing during the performance, which is what I meant by the show being ‘entertainingly packaged’.

As well as my interest in Popular Culture of the 1970s I also have one in interesting fonts, as evidenced by my presence at the ‘Fonts In Use’ site. I have made, there, a direct reference to ‘2 Gs And The Pop People’ in an actual font use contribution and a less direct one via a comment on a font use contribution related to the novel ‘Diabolus’, by David St. John, where another infamous incident of 1972 to go with ‘Bloody Sunday’, the Watergate Break-In is referred to, coinciding with the day of the second edition of ‘2 Gs And The Pop People’.

On that edition the guest presenter was that fellow child of 29th January with Valérie Čižmárová, Tony Blackburn, whose paths crossed in an edition of that rather longer-lived Pop Music-related show, ‘Top Of The Pops’ with one of the guests on the first edition, Lulu, as referenced at this ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ Blog post. Here is Lulu on that edition of ‘2 Gs And The Pop People’ of half-a-century ago to the day, performing a rendition of The Moody Blues’ ‘Nights In White Satin’ and very presentable it was, too!

Since one of the regular trips over to Melbourne for the family in those days was to follow Dad’s performances with the Melbourne and District Amateur Operatic Society and their treatments of the famous Gilbert & Sullivan operettas at Melbourne’s Public Hall before relocating to the rather safer venue of Castle Donington Village Hall, it’s rather interesting that one of the other guests on the edition I saw at my aunt’s house was none other than Gilbert O’Sullivan, the YouTube video here incorrectly described as on the 14th, as opposed to 24th June, which I have accordingly corrected to the uploading party. Furthermore, my aunt was a fellow member of Melbourne and District Amateur Operatic Society and would go down in local legend for her utterly memorable performance of Mad Margaret in ‘Ruddigore’ – the 1974 production thereof which, being probably in March of that year, would have more or less coincided with the recording of the ‘Valerie Čižmárová’ album – thereby momentarily stepping out of the shadows of her rather higher-profile younger sister, my mother, as referenced at the ‘Valérie Čižmárová: A Life In Pictures’ page of ‘Bananas For Breakfast’. It also occurs to me that, with her forename of Sheila, she is connected to the French singer (Sheila) of a cover of the song that set the ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ ball rolling, Middle Of The Road’s ‘Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum’, as ‘Les Rois Mages’ (‘The Three Kings’), connected, in turn, with Hana Zagorová’s ‘Pan Tydlitýt a pan Tydlitát’ (‘Mr Tydlitýt And Mr Tydlitát’) and the Braňo Hronec Sound’s ‘Pochod trpaslíkov’ (‘The Shining Path’), featuring Eva Kostolányiová and Eva Máziková.

That’s Gilbert OH-Sullivan!

So, I might not have been ‘All Dancing’ tonight to Godfrey’s Grit ‘n’ Soul Band but I have at least been ‘dancing’ over the keyboard of my laptop instead, as that member of The Second Generation, Sandy Penson was side-by-side with Slade’s Dave Hill in the second edition!

Article for ‘Englishman In Slovakia’ – Fifth Anniversary Supplement

Five years ago today I submitted my first-ever professional writing contract to the ‘Englishman In Slovakia’ Blog in response to a request for unusual ideas for promoting tourism to Slovakia, to which I had proposed the idea of ‘Seventies Female Pop Pilgrimages’, which raised considerable interest in the idea, so I got that contract out of it.

To celebrate half-a-decade on from that occasion, which I could hardly believe was happening at the time in view of the fact that, only just a couple of years beforehand, I knew as near as makes no difference to nothing about the subject, I have added a supplement to the full text article which can be found below.

As a supplement itself to the content at this ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ Blog post, together with the now-revised ‘Number One’ for Valérie Čižmárová, ‘Říkáš pořád, jak ti na mně záleží’ (‘You Always Say How You Care For Me’), here are the songs mentioned in the supplement embedded in the order in which they are mentioned.

Pondelok, 28. marca

…which is ‘Monday, 28th March’ in Slovak.

The last Monday, 28th March was the day, six years ago today, when the first ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ Blog post was put out, so, since it has been some time since I last got together a post, what with my attention having been drawn away to more current events in Central and Eastern Europe and also considering the fact that I note that there has been a recent YouTube uploading by ‘RETRO SLOVAK’ of a performance fifty years ago by Helena Blehárová here is a post to celebrate this seemingly endless six years, where looking back on the spring of 2016 seems such a long-lost world to me.

The title of this traditionally-based song is ‘A když bylo po pulnoci’ (‘And When It Was Past Midnight’), so I will get this post out before midnight so that the post will bear the date stamp ‘march 28, 2022’.

It has to be said that the wink at the end of this performance – in what appears to be a Liverpool-esque ‘Cavern’ – is particularly enjoyable.

I wonder if there was any comparable venue in Liverpool’s rival city of Manchester – with which I will always associate Helena – where she could have appeared when participating in the ‘Daily Mail’ International Jazz Festival in June 1963.

New page added to ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ Blog!

I said in this ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ Blog post that I’d be doing an upload to YouTube to celebrate the ‘Golden Anniversary’ of the recording of the album ‘Braňo Hronec Uvázda’ in January 1972 and I have – taking the opportunity of the last possible two days in the month absolutely to guarantee that the album (and what an album it is!) has now definitely turned Fifty.

Not only that, but I rate this album so highly – please also see this previous ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ Blog post – that I have created a brand new page at ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ devoted to the album where one can play the whole LP from beginning to end, if one so wished!

I hope all ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ Blog readers enjoy this sensational record – with Side 1 showcasing the best of the Slovak portion of the former Czechoslovakia’s ‘tunesmithery’ and with some superb covers on Side 2 – that seems so timelessly cool that it’s difficult to credit that it is now half-a-century old!

R.I.P., R.B.T.

Over this past week or so I have been enjoying the offerings on the YouTube channel, ‘Retro British Television’, most especially for the old editions of the classic TV programme, ‘Top Of The Pops’. Unfortunately – and this happened literally in front of my very eyes earlier this evening, as I write – this superb channel no longer exists. It has been an especial pleasure linking those editions in with the events and personalities relevant specifically to ‘Bananas For Breakfast’, generally to ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ and also to the wider context in which these two Blogs came into existence. Since the extensive comments I passed on the videos posted by ‘Retro British Television’ have now themselves disappeared into the ether here they are, copied and pasted out of my email inbox as comments ‘hearted’ by ‘Retro British Television’ for the pleasure of ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ Blog readers.

Sandie Shaw – Long Live Love ( 27th December 1973 ) In High Definition | Retro British Television

Ah! Yet more synchronicity with the world of Valérie Čižmárová – the day of the recording of her pair of soft Seventies Soul swingers, ‘Spousta příběhů’ (‘Lots Of Stories’) and ‘Zrzek’ (‘Redhead’), the former with a very Seventies sitcom signature tune vibe.

It’s strange that Sandie Shaw should be associated therewith since I have a post on her at my ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ Blog, entitled ‘A sign of the (TV) Times?’ making a contrast between her prominence in a very racy front-cover photo in a ‘TV Times’ from 1972 and total lack of chart action in the 1970s, which seemed to characterise many of her fellow Brit Girls of the Sixties as we wore into the new decade – a particularly cruel note for Sandie being here that – from one of my Pop ‘Bibles’ ‘The Warner Guide To UK & US Hit Singles’, by Dave McAleer – ‘Long Live Love’ had been the on-the-month No. 1 in the UK in June 1965, the very heart of the Sixties. In fact, that was one of the triggers behind my setting up that Blog on female Pop east of the former Iron Curtain, mostly in the Seventies because it really struck home how many of the Sixties Girls, certainly in Czechoslovakia, managed to power into the Seventies as a slightly younger generation, including the likes of Valérie Čižmárová, also came on-stream further to bump up the numbers, which signally wasn’t happening here, sadly enough.

A Small Selection Of Some Of My UK 1950’s /60’s 45RPM Records ( 1080p HD ) | Retro British Television

A very nice-looking collection, RBT and thanks for uploading this!

I especially approve of your chosen soundtrack of The Carpenters from both the Valérie Čižmárová and Carene Cheryl/Karen Cheryl points of view. The Carpenters had an album out of their hit singles from 1969 – 1973. Well, so did Valérie Čižmárová, posthumously, hitting the top of the Czech hit parade as it began to hit home, in death, how undervalued she’d been in life. This was, after all, the Valérie Čižmárová from the prodigiously talented 17-year-old in 1969 to the spectacular run of singles from what I think of as ‘that year’, when she turned 21, which I think were almost an album to themselves.

Turning my attention to C.C./K.C., one of my most remarkable discoveries about her was her First Prize-winning talents as a drummer. You really need to check out the ‘carene cheryl/karen cheryl batterie’ (‘carene cheryl/karen cheryl drums’ in French) on YT to see what I mean. Also, thinking of those initials ‘K.C.’, Karen Carpenter was a pretty damned good drummer too, as well as a fabulous singer!

…and searching for ‘carene cheryl batterie’ gets you here!

Another thing I’d highly recommend, spotting Sandie Shaw in your collection, is checking out the fantastic site, worldradiohistory.com, where there are fully (and freely!) searchable music publications substantially from the personal collection of the Pop music author, Dave McAleer. I’ve read some fascinating stuff there lately on Sandie’s visit to the Bratislavská Lýra festival of 1967.

Všechno nejlepší k narozeninám/Všetko najlepšie k narodeninám ‘Silvestr na přání aneb Čí jsou hory Kavčí?’!

Being at the Forty-Fourth ‘Birthday’ of the New Year’s Eve TV show ‘Silvestr na přání aneb Čí jsou hory Kavčí?’ (‘New Year’s Eve On Request Or Whose Are The Hory Kavčí?’) here is a re-blogging of the ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ Blog post of four years ago to celebrate this occasion!

'Girls Of The Golden East' - (Mostly) Seventies Songstresses of the Soviet Satellites

I have celebrated the fortieth anniversary of this memorable New Year’s Eve TV entertainment show, produced by Ján Roháč and presented by Vladimír Menšík in this post at ‘Bananas For Breakfast’, so, to back up what I wrote there, here is a selection, that ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ readers may recognise, of some of my favourite Czech and Slovak women in action – being Pop Stars as one may never have seen them before!

As can be seen, it was quite a show!

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Všechno nejlepší k 70. narozeninám, Věrko

Hot on the heels of the birth, on 20th December 1951, of Маргарита Хранова (Margarita Hranova), the similarly soulful voice of Věra Špinarová arrived on Planet Earth just two days later, so, had Věrka not passed away, at the age of just sixty-five, on 26th March 2017 she would have been celebrating her 70th Birthday today, so – as I customarily do in the cases of those passed on – it’s a Happy 70th Birthday without the exclamation mark to Věrka.

It is quite strange, in a way, that Věrka’s rasping, powerhouse voice – belonging to one who improbably envied the voice of Valérie Čižmárová, maybe because it had the power without the rough edges – should be associated with such a light and fluffy song as the A-Side to the Middle Of The Road B-Side that Маргарита Хранова covered in the shape of her ‘Дивни Години’ (‘Divny godiny’ – ‘Wild Times’), that Middle Of The Road original having been ‘Rainin’ ‘N’ Painin”, the B-Side to none other than ‘Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep’, but associated therewith Věrka is via her ‘Táta Jan’ (‘Daddy John’). The music had been composed by Lally Stott, with the Czech-language lyrics being provided by Věrka herself. The instrumental accompaniment came from Věrka’s regular band, Majestic under the direction of her husband-to-be, Ivo Pavlík.

It was said, in the ‘Melodie’ magazine article by the record producer, Miloš Skalka from which one gets those aforementioned remarks concerning the respective voices of Věrka and Valinka that the envy would have been returned, maybe with interest, regarding that regular backing on which Věrka could call. That was, I happen to think, why Věrka managed a much more consistent run of recordings than Valinka could ever hope to have achieved. It does also occur to me, however, that, paradoxically, that meant that there is a more precious rarity in Valinka’s recordings, so could that be another thing that Věrka might have envied in terms of legacy?

I’ll have her voice, but I’ll keep my band, thank you!

Честит 70. Рожден ден, Маргарита!…

…which is, transliterated into Latin script as best as I can, ‘Čestit 70. Rozhden den, Margarita!’ (‘Happy 70th Birthday, Margarita!’)

Yes, today is one of those whole-decades birthdays in ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ Land, in this case, Bulgaria’s Margarita Hranova, or Маргарита Хранова, to put it in Margarita’s native Cyrillic script.

In 1971 Bulgaria’s Светла Стоева (Svetla Stoeva) had taken on Middle Of The Road’s smash-hit ‘Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep’ as ‘Една малка шега’ – ‘Edna malka šega’ (‘A Little Joke’). In 1973 her compatriot celebrating that 70th Birthday lent her immensely soulful voice to its highly contrasting B-Side, ‘Rainin’ ‘N’ Painin” in the shape of ‘Дивни Години’ (‘Divny godiny’ – ‘Wild Times’). The music had been composed by Stott & Cassia and the Bulgarian-language lyrics came from Жива Кюлджиева (Zhiva Kyuldjieva) and Иван Пеев (Ivan Peev), the latter of those two providing the musical direction.

I should like, before I do the embedding of the relevant YouTube video, to point out that there is some full-frontal nudity (briefly!) on display in the course thereof, just in case any ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ Blog readers are shocked!

Pick the right time to blink…or the wrong one!

Všechno nejlepší k 80. narozeninám, Maruško!

Today is a very notable birthday in the world of ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ inasmuch as it is one of the first times that any of what I think of as ‘The Girls Of The Golden East Generation’ will have reached the eight-decade mark, this being Marie (‘Lady Soul’) Rottrová, born eighty years ago today in the Ostrava suburb of Hrušov, by the right-hand bank of the still-relatively-young Odra (Oder).

I at first thought of effectively re-blogging this now-very-old ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ Blog post from way back in June 2016, since it touched on the theme of having a party, then I thought not, since, sadly, the video that I’d embedded from YouTube has subsequently been taken down, then I thought why not, since it perfectly captures the spirit and ‘Soul’ of the occasion, no matter. It also takes in another personality from that city – referred to by some as ‘the Detroit of Czechoslovakia’ – who quite recently reached her three-quarter-century mark – on 6th September – born slightly upstream and on the left-hand bank of the Odra in Petřkovice, Hana Zagorová.

That’s a real shame and slightly dampens the mood but I’m not letting that get in the way of this celebration of such a noteworthy landmark for such a noteworthy artist.

Hopefully, if somebody reads this ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ Blog post and they have access to a video of this kicking-off of a summer’s weekend sometime in 1969 in Czechoslovak Soul Style they’ll be suitably inspired to get it back on YouTube since, of the many YouTube videos I have encountered over the years during which I have blogged about the female Pop scene of that era, especially of the former Czechoslovakia, it was something of a favourite, showing why Ostrava is known as above!