The Story So Far (January 11, 2016)

It’s been a fairly long night on account of things not only going into a metaphorical outer space in terms of my ‘disc-overies’, but definitely being sucked down a black hole into a parallel universe now.


I thought it might be a good idea to look into the ‘Bratislava Lyre’ festival of 1976 and it’s taken me to the following:


A sort of ‘Hungarian Věra Špinarová’ who is yet another one of those fellow children of the teens of July – Magdi Bódy, who could, like Věra, turn her musical hand to virtually anything from Disco to slow, Bluesey Ballads…and she’s another sensational ‘voice’.




Another Bulgarian artist by the name of Emilia Markova…who is quite the peppiest Bulgarian artist I’ve hitherto encountered.



…and yes…this IS what Bulgarian TV looked like in 1971!



…and….drum roll….wait for it….etc….etc…etc…


Now I know where Margarita Hranova (and maybe that also applies to any number of Bulgarian artists) got her Soulful voice from. On the same TV programme as Emilia we had, on that same stage, (I’ve seen a mention of their appearance at Bulgaria’s ‘Golden Orpheus’ festival, but I had no idea they’d actually been on Bulgarian telly)  The Flirtations performing an absolute Northern Soul classic…and one of my very favourites….so from ‘Swinging Slovakia’ it’s ‘Black and Beautiful Bulgaria’. I don’t think British TV had anything quite like this…lucky Bulgarians!



You know about that ‘B-Side’ (ie., less favoured…although I’m not so sure now!) remark about Slovakia? I’ve been sort of thinking that the same could be said about Eastern Europe as a whole….Europe’s ‘B-Side’…or, to put it another way…the ‘Blacks of Europe’. Maybe that’s why seeing Black artists performing on Eastern European TV seems so right after all…after the initial sense of shock and sheer delight. They were amongst their own people, in a manner of speaking.


….now back to ‘Swinging Slovakia’.


It wasn’t only Věra who did ‘Son Of A Preacher Man’ (by the ‘Black’ Dusty Springfield, of course!). So did Eva…and who could resist ‘that’ outfit again!



More RCA label Bubblegum covered ‘out East’..this time, originally by The Archies (written by Jeff Barry and Andy Kim)…again what an outfit! It does strike one that, given Jeff Barry’s family background, as one of the great Jewish diaspora from Eastern Europe, that this would have been a case of the song ‘coming back home’, as it were. Also, given that much of the basis of what was to become the Pop of the 1960s would have been the sounds of Eastern European Folk Music, as well as the perhaps higher-profile West African origins, that probably explains why the Eastern Bloc’s own composers and arrangers were so adept at creating their own music. It was, after all, their own….perhaps more than it was ours.


More ‘Dutch connections’…the accompanying photo showing Eva’s comic touch, which isn’t surprising, since another one of her talents was as a comic actress.



The ‘vibe’ around the ‘Bratislava Lyre’



...and finally…a new ‘anthem’ for my ‘disc-overies’? By Jana Kocianová, at the ‘Bratislava Lyre’ ’76.



Strange things are indeed happening every day!


My conclusion is that there was one super-cool half of Europe during the Cold War…and it wasn’t the Western half!

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