Mentioning Disco and alternate Eastern Bloc versions of songs better-known in the West for associations with other artists brings to mind Valérie Čižmárová’s covering of Boney M’s ‘Belfast’. In the very early days, now just under a year ago, of my acquaintance over cyberspace with Valérie I recall wondering how come someone from way over in the far east of the former Czechoslovakia got to singing a song about the Northern Irish capital. Now I know! She was from what I have come to know as ‘the Northern Ireland of the former Czechoslovakia’…very appropriately emerald-flavoured outfit Valérie is wearing in the shot associated with the video, don’t you think? She even looks like a proper ‘Coleen’!
Thanks to having become a FB ‘Friend’ of Aleš Korábek who runs the Valérie Čižmárová Fan Club and to looking further into what he is putting up on the Web related to Valérie I have encountered a brilliantly clear colour image of a young Valérie (I think this must be a simple family snap, which would have been quite advanced for the West at that time…unless, as has occurred to me so often since I started making my GOTGE-related discoveries, the East was ahead of us Westerners in family photography too!) It really captures the essence of the future Pop Star…and those eyes! They’re ‘Irish’ and they mean business!….and, in a Commitments-like manner (yes, I know that they were from the Republic of Ireland!) Valérie’s performance on ‘Důkaz mi dej’ is pure ‘say it out loud…I’m Black and I’m proud!’ (…or ‘I’m part-Hungarian and I’m proud!’). In fact, one could say that the Eastern Europeans are ‘the Blacks of Europe’….and that the Slovaks were ‘the Blacks of Czechoslovakia’…and that the Eastern Slovaks are ‘the Blacks of Slovakia’…and that the part-Hungarians were ‘the Blacks of Czechoslovakia’. In this context I think I’ve found a ‘Blacker’ ‘Blonde-haired Soul’ (the female answer to ‘Blue-eyed Soul’) singer than even Dusty Springfield.
It’s interesting that Valérie appears to have been something of a Forces’ Sweetheart in this context. (a) An embodiment of patriotic pride traced part of her ancestry to the – to some Czechoslovaks – hated Imperial overlords of Hungary? (b) My ‘fantasy Western Valérie Čižmárová’ – a 1970s Northern Irish Pop Star called ‘Valerie Shoesmith’ (a literal translation of her name) might have got into hot water with some in the province for a pose like that below at a time like that!