When one thinks of the word ‘Pioneer’ in the context of the Eastern Europe of the Cold War Era one usually probably thinks first of the various youth movements prevalent at that time in that part of the world. However, I am ever so glad that I had another trip to ‘my’ Eastern European supermarket in Burton-on-Trent yesterday, since I picked up a copy of ‘Życie na gorąco’ from the magazine rack because it had a picture of one of those GOTGE, Maryla Rodowicz on the cover and it was also interesting to see ‘Her Maj’ being featured under her Polish name of ‘Elżbieta II’ (‘Dworskie Życie’ is Polish for ‘Courtly Life’) and when I was reading it on the bus on the way back home I nearly dropped the magazine on the floor in (pleasant!) shock, thinking “Oh my God! It’s Alibabki!” to myself, when I encountered an article on a former member (for two years) of the legendary Polish Girl Group, Alibabki, Barbara Trzetrzelewska (I had to have several attempts at pronouncing that name!).
(It is very good to note, BTW, that ‘Basia’, as she is now professionally known, is clearly a highly successful artist in the West nowadays) .
I am very glad that I was brought back to Alibabki thoughts, since I have made a remarkable discovery regarding what they’ve been getting up to over this past year or two.
Why it is indeed a case of “Oh my God, it’s Alibabki!” is that the group was the first European Girl Group, back in 1965, to perform music called ‘Ska’, hence my calling them in the post title ‘The Pioneers from Poland’, on a four-track EP. Here are those tracks.
Recently, the group has been re-united to go back into the recording studio and to make various promo videos, TV appearances and appearances on stage to mark ‘Fifty Years of Jamaican Music in Poland’ – the most striking performance being this promo with the present-day Ska/Reggae act, The Bartenders. It is quite something to see a juxtaposition between the girls, now in their 70s and the Jamaican Pop Music of today…going all ‘Dancehall’, with the girls donning cool shades during that part of the video. This shows one that there is a direct connection between the apparently dead, old, grey ‘Lost World’ of the mid-1960s behind the Iron Curtain and the sheer vibrancy of today and shows one just what shoulders Alibabki have upon which Poland’s fifty-year love affair with Jamaican music stands.
It also occurs to me that it shows two of the regions – from which this nation has experienced significant immigration at times since WWII and with which this nation has built up close ties accordingly – getting on fine together. In the course of the EU Referendum a sort of false choice was posited by the ‘Leave’ camp between the UK orienting itself towards the Commonwealth and orienting itself towards Eastern Europe. There have also been, in this respect, attempts to try to drive a wedge between communities from the Commonwealth and those from Eastern Europe. In this case, clearly, we can have both!…and where is that ‘wedge’ here???
I think that I might have stumbled across an explanation regarding how this exotic form of music took root in Poland, of all places. It seems that it is something to do with picking up copies of Ska records at a U.S. Embassy.
In an item of ‘Late News’ I’m delighted to report that this GOTGE post has (at the latest count) eighteen ‘Likes’ and four ‘Loves’ on Alibabki’s FB page!