…it’s time for ABBA…or rather, Carene Cheryl and Pro Contra.
I said that there’d been some exciting Polish-related developments in my discoveries of late.
Well, the fact that I am following the early career of Carene Cheryl forty years down the line and the fact that her fourth single, «Samedi, Dimanche et Fêtes» was released in May 1976 sort of craftily links into one of my major Polish discoveries, the Girl Group, Pro Contra, on account, in turn, of the fact that the B-Side was no less than an epic rendering of ABBA’s classic, ‘Mamma Mia’, slightly re-titled as «Oh! Mama Mia» (or «Oh! Mamma Mia», if one goes by the record label as opposed to the sleeve!)…at a time when, if one recalls her birthdate as 19th July 1957, she was still only eighteen-years-old. I’m sure many a more experienced ‘player’ on the Pop scene would have blanched at covering ABBA, at the height of their fame and glory, but at 18, in only the second calendar year of one’s recording career and with just three singles and one album under one’s belt this, I think, amounts to pretty breathtaking ‘chutzpah’! Her first three singles had been on the Carrère label, under Productions Ibach, but the fourth marked Carene’s Producer, «Mémé» Ibach’s big break for freedom, re-mortgaging his house to launch his own label, Disques Ibach. The B-Side makes it all worth while in my book!
I do concede that, as a fan of what I call ‘Killer Bs’, I can overlook the A-Sides at times. Since Carene’s TV performances of «Samedi, Dimanche et Fêtes» do demonstrate her show-womanship let’s not be accused of thinking of that A-Side as ‘Scotch mist’. So, here it is.
Before Bezinky came along across the border in Czechoslovakia Poland had quite a few Girl Groups going themselves, one of which was Pro Contra and, so it would appear, they covered the same ABBA record as did Hana Zagorová and Petr Rezek (Hana’s and Petr’s version as ‘Asi, Asi’), ‘Honey Honey’.
Since I have also, in the midst of my GOTGE discoveries, become something of an aficionado of the sometimes weird and wonderful televisual and cinematic entertainment of the era in the former Eastern Bloc it’s quite gratifying to report that Pro Contra appeared (as nurses at a psychiatric hospital…as one does!) in a Musical in the early 1970s. Here’s their big number from that movie.
There’s plenty more Polish goings-on on the way to GOTGE soon, so hold tight!