Since the last time I did a bit of searching on the orchestra and studio with whom/where Věra had recorded that version of ‘Piece Of My Heart’ and was taken to a whole load of stuff on another very impressive performer from Ostrava (just around the corner from Hana’s patch in the north-eastern approaches of that Coventry-sized city) by the name of Marie Rottrová. Who, despite being approaching 74, is, like Spencer Davis, still very much active and still quite the ‘looker’, indeed. You will perhaps work out, therefore, that she’d have been born in a geographical region at the time under the ‘tender’ care of none other than Reinhard Heydrich, when he’d have been Governor of the Protectorate of Bohemia-Moravia. Like Věra, the Black influences are very clear to see in this very ‘Northern’ release, even appearing in the promo video with a little Black boy. I’m sure Reinhard would have approved…or maybe not! (Incidentally, she was apparently known as ‘Lady Soul’) Oh…and thank goodness that the Nazi authorities didn’t take it out on Marie’s town after Heydrich’s assassination…what a terrible thought!
Marie took the Black influences further later on by obviously taking on the mantle of the Czechoslovak Disco Queen, as evidenced by the following covers of ‘Staying Alive’ and ‘Blame It On The Boogie’… the latter filmed in early-1980s Paris, with a miniature of the Statue of Liberty in the background…which I’m sure would have suited the Communist authorities….or maybe not! (No Karen spotted in the background by the banks of ‘her’ river!) Oh, I love the dark-haired girl in the flowing skirt giving it something on the dance floor in the version of ‘Staying Alive’….and what stunningly beautiful eyes Marie shows on the boat on the Seine….quite hypnotic. (And she’d have been the ‘wrong’ side of forty by then, of course).
If you think of Věra being based in Ostrava in the 1970s and early 1980s that’s quite an impressive trio of female solo artists active at the time in a place the size of Coventry. I wonder if one could refer to Ostrava as a sort of ‘Eastern Bloc Detroit’….unloved but with a cracking influence on Pop Music