Famous/Favourite Czech Composer? (Mark II)

After having put out a ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ post on this theme previously – specifically about the hit musical composition team of Vítězslav Hádl and Ladislav Pikart – as a result of a chance discovery on YouTube within this last hour, as I commence writing, I think this would be an ideal juncture at which to celebrate another one of the tunes from the pen of Jindřich Brabec released in 1972 on top of Helena Blehárová’s Soul/Rhythm & Blues stormer, for which I have a lot of time, ‘Nauč mě čarovat’ (‘Teach Me To Do Magic’). It is also another opportunity to showcase the beautifully rich voice of Alena Tichá, whose home city of Zlín – known as Gottwaldov at the time of this release – I was privileged to have visited during my week in the Czech Republic/Slovakia back in October.

The Jindřich Brabec composition from 1972 in question here is ‘Vrať se mi, lásko’ (‘Come Back To Me Baby’), with lyrics by Jiří Aplt and instrumental accompaniment from Taneční Orchestr Čs. Rozhlasu (The Czechoslovak Radio Dance Band) under Vladimír Popelka and some wonderfully cool backing vocals that are – as far as I can make out – unfortunately uncredited, but who are, in all probability, Sbor Lubomíra Pánka (The Lubomír Pánek Singers)…or they might be Jezinky!

In view of the title of that Helena Blehárová song referred to it is clear that Jindřich Brabec’s pen is working that magic again in the case of ‘Vrať se mi, lásko’!


Zlá doba…

…which is Czech for ‘a bad time’…for women in Pop in the UK in the early 1970s, that is to say.

One of the great theories behind the foundation of the ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ Blog was that it was an opportunity to point out the glaring contrast in fortunes for women in Pop – concentrating especially on the Czechoslovakia of that time – between the United Kingdom and the former Eastern Bloc…after what had been quite a good time for women in the 1960s in the UK.

After having had the great good fortune of just happening to spot a copy of the biography of Hana Zagorová, by Miroslav Graclík and Václav Nekvapil, ‘Zagorka’, in the ‘Foreign Language Books’ section at Derby’s new Central Library at the Council House this has given me the ideal opportunity to put the aforementioned theory to a sort of ‘acid test’, since there are on-the-month ‘Top Twentys’ of hits on the Supraphon label for the months March and May 1972.

(There was also the Panton label in the Czech-speaking part of Czechoslovakia…and Opus had just been set up in the Slovak-speaking part of Czechoslovakia, so these are not going to be ‘Top Twentys’ in a ‘universal’ sense, but it still gives a good idea of where women in Pop were at in Czechoslovakia at that time.)

I have had, since sometime during the 1990s, something of a ‘Pop Music Bible’ by the name of ‘The Warner Guide To UK & US Hit Singles’, by Dave McAleer, which has on-the-month ‘Top Twentys’, ‘from 1954 to the present day’, so we can perform, here, a very ‘symmetrical’ comparison of the situation of women in Pop between both the UK and the U.S. and Czechoslovakia – again, with the proviso that Panton and Opus artists are not included here.

Here are those Supraphon ‘Top Twentys’ from March and May 1972.


Here are the UK and U.S. ‘Top Twentys’ for March 1972


Here are the UK and U.S. ‘Top Twentys’ for May 1972


I am going to consider, here, solo female artists, female artists performing as part of a duo, female groups and groups with female members (overwhelmingly, singers, of course).

The count is as follows:

Supraphon – March 1972: Six

UK Top Twenty – March 1972: Two

U.S. Top Twenty – March 1972: Four (some artists are unfamiliar to me, so that might not be the whole story!)

Supraphon – May 1972: Seven

UK Top Twenty – May 1972: Two

U.S. Top Twenty – May 1972: Three

In other words, my theory holds well firm!

It gets worse for the UK – if that were at all possible! – in March 1972, since there are no solo females at all – thank goodness for the ‘small mercy’ of Lyn Paul and Eve Graham in the UK’s Eurovision Song Contest 1972 entry by The New Seekers! – and one of the two featured is not a UK act – strange how Valérie Čižmárová‘s ‘Koko’ and The Supremes’ ‘Floy Joy’ both occupy the eighteenth berth in the March charts! It gets even more dire in the UK, in a way, in May 1972, since there is a solo female artist…but that is Greece’s Vicky Leandros, based in West Germany at the time, representing Luxembourg at the Eurovision Song Contest of that year!…and once again, the female group represented is not even a contemporary one, that being the re-release of The Chiffons’ ‘Sweet Talkin’ Guy’…or a UK act, for that matter!

So, if one were a female artist in Pop and one were to travel back in time to the early 1970s, I think setting co-ordinates for Czechoslovakia might – just might! – be the recommended course of action!

Anywhere but the United Kingdom!…and the situation in the U.S. was hardly setting the World on fire, either!

Jana Kocianová – 08.06.1946 – 24.09.2018

I’ve just seen some incredibly shocking news this morning regarding Jana Kocianová, so I have had to update her entry in my ‘Englishman In Slovakia’ article.


When I’d sorted out a house move in which I am currently embroiled I had pencilled in another possible visit to Slovakia, maybe to see Janka in action on stage. Unfortunately, it will now probably to visit her burial place, maybe in Šaštín-Stráže itself. 😦

Although, in the ‘Top Six’ referred to in my ‘Englishman In Slovakia’ article, Janka’s entry is ‘Ráno na šiestom peróne’ (‘Early Morning On The Sixth Platform’), it seems most appropriate, on this sad occasion, to lift us all up with the song with the title that represents what my relation with Slovakia is – Janka’s ‘Nekonečná láska’ (‘Never-ending Love’), with music by Delaney Bramlett and Slovak-language lyrics by Zoro Laurinc, instrumental accompaniment from Tanečný Orchestr Čs. Rozhlasu v Bratislave (The Czechoslovak Radio Dance Orchestra in Bratislava) under the direction of Vieroslav Matušík and backing vocals from RT-VOX. It is a privilege indeed to have followed in this great lady’s footsteps in the Sad Janka Kráľa, by the River Danube in Bratislava.

Like my ‘Slovak No. 1’, Valérie Čižmárová, Janka was a huge admirer of ‘Aretha Franklinová’ – I’ll forever think of Aretha Franklin in those terms after seeing a reference to that name in the reply to the ‘favourite singers’ question in Valinka’s ‘Sedmička Pionýrů’ 1973 magazine interview! – as a Gospel Queen should be, so that is quite some trio up in ‘Musical Heaven’ now!

Všechno nejlepší k narozeninám, ‘Pan Tydlitýt a pan Tydlitát’!

As last year was this is a double celebration – now just yesterday, as I write, late at night! – of the recording anniversaries – this time around, the forty-seventh – of ‘Pan Tydlitýt a pan Tydlitát’ (‘Mr. Tydlitýt And Mr. Tydlitát’), by Hana Zagorová and, over on ‘Bananas For Breakfast’, the former being a cover of Middle Of The Road’s ‘Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum’ and tne latter being a cover of The Sweet’s ‘Co-Co’…both being recorded at the Dejvice studio, in Prague, with personnel as illustrated at the ‘Valérie Čižmárová: A Life In Sound’ page of ‘Bananas For Breakfast’.

It is very interesting that – in this post at an associated Blog, ‘Denim Disco’ – the idea of it being a ‘Highland Pop Corrido’, featuring a pair of characters was (sort of) extended to Hanička’s cover. Although, in the case of ‘Pan Tydlitýt a pan Tydlitát’, unlike in that of ‘Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum’, in the words of Zdeněk Rytíř’s Czech-language lyrics, the two parties are in co-operation with each other rather than in conflict, with Mr. Tydlitýt playing the guitar and Mr. Tylitát being his conductor. This is, in turn, a rather different handling of that tune by Mario and Giosy Capuano in the famous French version, (the French ‘Sound Of 1971’), ‘Les Rois Mages’ (‘The Three Kings’), by Sheila – later to attain fame in the UK as Sheila B. Devotion – where Sheila addresses a lover with the words that she would follow him as faithfully as the Three Kings in Galilee.

I have seen it written that, although ‘Pan Tydlitýt a pan Tydlitát’ sticks closer to the overall feel of the original – in terms of lyrics talking of two parties – than ‘Les Rois Mages’ the latter is more satisfactory. I am unsure about that, thinking that both have their respective merits.

Either way, Hanička’s version certainly served the purpose of initially opening my eyes to female Pop east of the former Iron Curtain during the 1970s, so that’s good enough to be eternally grateful to her for doing so!

Famous/Favourite Czech Composer?…plus say ‘ahoj!’ to Elena Lukášová!

…a question that is most likely to elicit the response, ‘Antonín Dvořák’ or ‘Bedřich Smetana’ if one is talking to someone from the English-speaking world, where the term ‘Czech Music’ would probably be exclusively associated with Classical Music – a state of affairs that both ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ and its sister Blog ‘Bananas For Breakfast’, dedicated to Valérie Čižmárová, are seeking to have comprehensively reassessed – the names of the great composers of the world of Pop Music utterly passing over peoples’ heads in the aforementioned parts of the Planet. To my mind it is highly likely that two of the names – often working in tandem – that would enter my head if asked the question in the title of this Blog post may well be Vítězslav Hádl and Ladislav Pikart.

I opened my Eastern Bloc Pop vinyl-collecting account with Valérie Čižmárová’s eponymous LP, recorded in 1974 and released in 1975, with its tremendously visually appealing front cover and perhaps its yet more visually appealing rear cover!



On receiving the LP through the post and first playing it the stand-out track for me was the one of which fans of Valérie Čižmárová probably think as the album track that should have been a single, as evidenced by its appearance in a shortlist of five favourite recordings on Aleš Korábek’s Fan Site devoted to Valérie Čižmárová – ‘Koňskou dráhou’ (‘On The Horse Tram’) – recorded on 6th March 1974 – which, so it transpired, clearly had a run-out in front of the general public of Czechoslovakia before its appearance on vinyl, it being used as the background music during the scene featuring Libuše Šafránková and Milena Steinmasslová at the Café Bar Střelecký Ostrov, the island in the middle of the River Vltava in Prague in the 1974 film, ‘Jak utopit dr. Mráčka aneb Konec vodníků v Čechách’ (‘How To Drown Doctor Mráček Or The End Of The River Sprites In The Czech Lands’).



Being very much taken with the enormously catchy hook line, that almost felt Northern Soul-like, I straight away looked on the sleeve credits to see who was behind this danceable tune and it was the aforementioned pair of Vítězslav Hádl and Ladislav Pikart, (with lyrics by Petr Markov) who, with their association with the music for the film, also provided the song (with lyrics also from Petr Markov) which was the background music for the scene at the Žluté lázně (Yellow Spa), Podolské nábřeží, also by Valérie Čižmárová, ‘Tak měj mě rád’ (‘So Just Love Me’), that had been recorded as a single on 9th January 1973….another superb tune.


If one returns to the aforementioned Valérie Čižmárová Fan Site of Aleš Korábek one will note that another song in the ‘favourites’ shortlist is ‘Malý princ’ (‘Little Prince’), which is a stunningly beautiful tune composed by the evidently prodigious eighteen-year-old Zdeněk Němeček (again, with lyrics by Petr Markov). This was one of two songs recorded six months to the day after ‘Tak měj mě rád’, the other being no slouch itself, ‘V poschodí pátém’ (‘On The Fifth Floor’), which coupled Petr Markov’s lyrics with another cracker of a tune from the pens of Vítězslav Hádl and Ladislav Pikart. In both cases of ‘Malý princ’ and ‘V poschodí pátém’ an honourable mention should go to Jezinky for the backing vocals and to Skupina Svatopluka Čecha (The Svatopluk Čech Group) for the instrumental accompaniment – all-round high-class music-making. This also gives me an opportunity to credit Karel Vlach se svým orchestrem (Karel Vlach and His Orchestra) and Sbor Lubomíra Pánka (The Lubomír Pánek Singers) in the case of ‘Koňskou dráhou’ and the Studiový orchestr of the Mozarteum recording studio, under Pavel Vitoch and once again, Sbor Lubomíra Pánka for the backing vocals in the case of ‘Tak měj mě rád’.

‘Koňskou dráhou’, ‘Tak měj mě rád’ and ‘V poschodí pátém’ can all be enjoyed at the ‘Valérie Čižmárová: A Life In Sound’ page of ‘Bananas For Breakfast.

This has been a maybe somewhat over-long-winded preamble to my introduction to ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ readers of a fresh face, in the shape of Elena Lukášová.


It is a pity that, regarding Elena Lukášová’s background, she was born on some indeterminate date in 1946 in České Budějovice, since I do like, when I get the opportunity, to celebrate the birthdays of my ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ on my Facebook Timeline. At any rate, that birth year puts her in very close proximity to my never-to-be-overlooked ‘French Connection’ that, by various routes, led to the foundation of ‘Girls Of The Golden East’, by which I mean the Carrère label-mate of Carene Cheryl (later, Karen Cheryl), Sheila (later, Sheila B. Devotion), born in 1945, who recorded ‘Les Rois Mages’ (‘The Three Kings’) , which was a cover of Middle Of The Road’s ‘Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum’, which was also covered by Hana Zagorová, born in 1946, as ‘Pan Tydlitýt a pan Tydlitát’ (‘Mr. Tydlitýt And Mr. Tydlitát’) – the chance YouTube discovery back in the Summer of 2013 that was the crucial event in the aforementioned chain reaction. That fringed suede mini-dress with the boots is a very Sheila-in-1971-like look and Elena very much reminds me of Sheila in this photo, hence my giving the image the file-name ‘sheila_of_the_east.jpg’!

Thanks to the YouTube user, ‘f lo’ and their recent uploadings of a selection of Elena Lukášová songs, three of which were melodies from the ‘A-Team’ of Hádl and Pikart, I am now in the privileged position to exhibit Elena Lukášová’s delivery of their tunes to ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ readers with a soundtrack to go with it. This selection will increase in impressiveness as we go along…in my personal opinion, at any rate!

I will start with ‘Bumerang’ – the title of which should not take a great deal of translation! – from the Bratislavská Lýra festival of 1972, with lyrics by the lyricist who provided the Czech-language lyrics for the aforementioned ‘Pan Tydlitýt a pan Tydlitát’: Zdeněk Rytíř, instrumental accompaniment from the Taneční Orchestr Čs. Rozhlasu (TOČR) (The Czechoslovak Radio Dance Orchestra) under Josef Vobruba and backing vocals from Sbor Lubomíra Pánka and produced by Miloš Skalka and one of my Facebook Friends, Michael Prostějovský. While the most part of it cannot be described as one of Hádl and Pikart’s coolest tunes the end certainly does impress hugely.

Following on from ‘Bumerang’ comes ‘Já nejsem včerejší’ (‘I Wasn’t Born Yesterday’), also from 1972, with lyrics by Jiří Aplt, instrumental accompaniment from TOČR, under Vladimír Popelka – who, incidentally, composed the music for a wonderful song that wasn’t in Valérie Čižmárová’s regular run of singles/album track recordings: ‘Matějská Pouť’ (‘St. Matthew’s Fair’), from 1973, very redolent of the swinging theme tunes from 1970s British sitcoms (I’m not sure if sitcom theme tunes in contemporary Czechoslovakia had the same vibe…they probably did!) . As far as I can make out this is only available on a downloadable album of Valérie Čižmárová’s made-for-radio recordings, ‘Dívám se, dívám’ – and backing vocals from Sbor Lubomíra Pánka. ‘Já nejsem včerejší’ bowls along very nicely, I think.

Before I continue this exposition of Elena Lukášová performing the tunes of Hádl and Pikart may I take time out to take a trip back to a track on Valérie Čižmárová’s eponymous LP via the other side of the record to ‘Já nejsem včerejší’, ‘To říká inzerát’ (‘That’s What The Advertisement Says’). This was a cover – in early 1970s 1950s nostalgia mode – of The Monotones’ Doo-Wop song, ‘The Book Of Love’, with music by Charles Patrick and Warren Davis and lyrics by Pavel Vrba, and the same instrumental accompaniment and backing vocals as for ‘Já nejsem včerejší’, together with additional vocal accompaninment from the distinctively deep voice of Petr Janda.

It appears that Pavel Vrba’s lyrics are available at the ‘karaoketexty.cz’ site, so here they are together with translations suitably adapted from an ImTranslator pop-up translation.

to říká inzerát
Jak je asi starý
to značka mi nepraví
že dává dívkám dary
ač o to nestojí

that’s what the advertisement says
How old is it The brand does not tell me
that gives gifts to girls
if it’s not worth it

Chci vzít něžné dlaně do tvých medvědích
to říká inzerát
Musí sílu mít
vždyť dlaň má rozměrnou
už vzpomínek je víc než dost
nad družkou nevěrnou

I want to take soft palms to your bear
that’s what the advertisement says
Must have the strength to have
for the palm is large
Even memories are more than enough
over an unfaithful companion

Chci vzít něžné dlaně do tvých medvědích
to říká inzerát
Musí mít srdce jemné
když takhle může psát
snad by byl nadšen že mne
dlaň, dlaň, dlaň moji moh by hrát
tak když ten zájem platí
a mozná jenom tvůj
tak měl bys se mnou začít
byl bys jenom, jenom můj.

I want to take soft palms to your bear
that’s what the advertisement says
He must have a heart delicate
when he can write like this
perhaps he would be excited about me
palm, palm, my palm could play
when the interest is valid
and only yours
you should start with me

Chci vzít něžné dlaně do tvých medvědích
to říká inzerát
Kdo se pod tím skrývá
to značka mi nepoví
zda je to medvěd mýval
či medvěd pouťový

I want to take soft palms to your bear
that’s what the advertisement says
Who is hiding underneath
this tag does not tell me
whether it is a bear raccoon
or a bear bear

Chci vzít něžné dlaně do tvých medvědích
to říká inzerát
Tím já chci znát – víc – znát – víc – znát – víc
Koho asi skrývá řádků pár

I want to take soft palms to your bear
that’s what the advertisement says
I want to know – more – know – more – to know – more
Who is probably hiding a pair of lines

Ztrácíš noblesu
já jsem pán lesů
Ztrácíš noblesu
já jsem pán lesů
Ztrácíš noblesu
já jsem pán lesů
Ztrácíš noblesu
já jsem pán lesů

You’re losing noble
I am the Lord of Forests
You’re losing the nobles
I am the Lord of Forests
You’re losing the nobles
I am the Lord of Forests
You’re losing the nobles
I am the Lord of Forests

I said that there’d be a return to a track on Valérie Čižmárová’s eponymous LP. The track in question is ‘Proč si to brát’ (‘Why Get Married To That’), which also features a vocal accompaniment from that distinctive voice of Petr Janda. As with all tracks on that album the instrumental accompaniment came from Karel Vlach se svým orchestrem and the music was composed by Mojmír Balling and the lyrics by Jan Krůta.

We conclude this trio of ‘Hádl and Pikarts’ with 1973’s ‘Není všechno zlato, co se třpytí’ (‘All That Glitters Is Not Gold’), with lyrics by Zdeněk Borovec, instrumental accompaniment from a studio orchestra under Ladislav Pikart himself and backing vovals from Sbor Lubomíra Pánka. This has a hook line that is probably even more (annoyingly???) catchy than that of the song that started all this ‘thing’ about ‘Hádl and Pikarts’, ‘Koňskou dráhou’…and is once again eminently danceable Northern Soul-like fare.

Delicious! 🙂

Almost as delicious as Elena’s thighs in that fringed suede dress?…a remark for which I’d probably be in so much trouble in this day and age! ;-)…but one doesn’t come to ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ for political correctness, even though the politics of the Cold War Era are sort of the raison d’être of the Blog, to use an appropriately ‘French Connection’ expression!

Finally, to cool temperatures down after that bit of ‘needlessness’ – as I write as the height of this July’s heatwave approaches!, Vítězslav Hádl has his own page here.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again!

No sooner have I got together a ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ Blog post referencing the film ‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’ that, due to a chance discovery earlier today while walking out with my mobile phone – well, ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ was founded on chance discoveries ‘out there’ in cyberspace! – I found that the ABBA hit of the moment, ‘Mamma Mia!’, was covered in Czechoslovakia in 1976 by Alena Tichá, as ‘Mámo, zle je’ (‘Mother, He’s Wrong’), the music being composed by Benny Andersson, with lyrics by Michal Bukovič, with instrumental accompaniment from Orchestr Čs. Televize under Václav Zahradník, who, so it transpires, was born a decade to the day before the artist I feature in the sister Blog to ‘Girls Of The Golden East’, ‘Bananas For Breakfast’, Valérie Čižmárová and who accompanied her on her epic ballad, recorded on 3rd May 1974, ‘Pokloň se, lásko’ (‘Love, Take A Bow’) which can be enjoyed at the ‘Valérie Čižmárová: A Life In Sound’ page of ‘Bananas For Breakfast’. I also note that his date of death was the birthday of that other ‘Girl Of The Golden East’, Helena Blehárová.

To get a sense of what Alena Tichá would have looked like at the time, here she is performing the other side of the 45 to ‘Mámo, zle je’, ‘Brněnský drak’ (‘The Dragon Of Brno’) (music by Aleš Sigmund and lyrics by Michal Bukovič) with Václav Zahradník conducting in the background.

‘Mamma Mia!’ is the ABBA song that inevitably takes me back to the French artist who first got me interested, way back in 2004, in the wonderful world of largely-unknown-in-the-UK female Pop Stars of the 1970s from the European Continental Mainland – indeed, before I conceived of ‘Girls Of The Golden East’, I had a Blog pencilled in with the working title of ‘Maids From The Mainland’, which would have incorporated artists from both sides of the former Iron Curtain from that sort of era – Carene (later ‘Karen’) Cheryl, a personality who, incidentally, shares my birthday of 19th July. She did her own (French-language) cover of ABBA’s ‘Mamma Mia!’, slightly re-titled to ‘Oh! Mam(m)a Mia’ (it’s been spelled in both ways!), with French-language lyrics by Jean Schmitt and Humbert Ibach and with instrumental accompaniment conducted by Jean Claudric. Here is a video of that song taken from the cult TV show, ‘Midi Première’ – the on-the-road edition from Royan, by the estuary of the Gironde, possibly the edition from the day immediately after Carene Cheryl’s 19th birthday (and my 15th!) on 19th July 1976.

Alena Tichá’s home city is Zlín (known as Gottwaldov during Communist times), on the River Dřevnice, which I fondly think of as a Czech version of the river that flows through my home town of Belper, the River Derwent. It’s strange that I should have been walking by the Derwent in Derby at the time when I stumbled upon ‘Mámo, zle je’ on my mobile phone.

It was almost meant to be!

Všetko najlepšie k narodeninám, ‘Waterloo’!

Having recently had the opportunity, both here at ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ and over on its ‘sister’ Blog, ‘Bananas For Breakfast’, the Fan Blog for Valérie Čižmárová to tease out the fact that Eva Kostolányiová’s eponymous LP was recorded on the same day as Valérie Čižmárová’s incredible ‘V poschodí pátém’ and ‘Malý princ’ (9th July 1973) – please go over to the ‘Valérie Čižmárová: A Life In Sound’ page of ‘Bananas For Breakfast’ to see (or rather, hear!) what I mean – what also came to light was the personal link to Eva Kostolányiová’s cover of ABBA’s landmark Eurovision Song Contest Winner of 1974, ‘Waterloo’ – ABBA being currently topical on account of the spin-off from the original ‘Mamma Mia!’ movie, ‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’ recently having its première – inasmuch as it was recorded on my 13th birthday, on 19th July 1974. To Andersson, Ulvaeus and Andersson’s music was added Slovak-language lyrics by Alexander Karšay.

This would have been at a tragic time in the all-too-short life of ‘Evička’, who passed away aged just 32 – she having been diagnosed (ironically, while on tour in Sweden!) with breast cancer in the Spring of that year, an illness that would go on to take her life in October of the following year. Despite the toll that medical treatment and the disease itself was exacting on her voice too (having a roughening effect) Evička’s performance remains a triumph, as the following video taken from the Slovak television show, ‘Interparáda’ demonstrates…and I could not have wished for a better 13th birthday ‘present’ than this!

A fittingly ‘battling’ display, as Evička was meeting her personal ‘Waterloo’!