(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’ (‘Don’t Hang Up, I Love You’) 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, although, in view of the subsequent, almost overnight developing of an interest in the Pop Music of the Former Eastern Bloc, regrettably, I have had to abandon this – which I eventually decided to do as of her fourth single, ‘Samedi, dimanche, et fêtes’, released in the Spring of 1976 – on the basis that one can only order so many records on-line. It meant that I have, ironically, missed out on the aforementioned ‘Ne raccroche pas, je t’aime’ and Carene’s second LP, also of that name, both released in the Autumn of 1976, but when once one does decide to do something like that when is a ‘good time’ to do it?
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.
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!)
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.
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.
(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’ (‘Mr. Tydlitýt And Mr. Tydlitát’). My careers advisor’s suggestion at the end of May 2015 that the future of careers in languages lay in those of Eastern Europe 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, as seen in the video below, taken from the entertainment/variety show, ‘Ein Kessel Buntes’, 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.