Všechno nejlepší k narozeninám, Vlaďka!

Since today is the birthday of Vlaďka Prachařová this would seem to be a good ‘excuse’ to introduce this spectacular artist to GOTGE readers – an artist who could be described as coming from the ‘reserve squad’ of the GOTGE Generation, demonstrating that the Czechoslovakia of the time had so much female talent at their disposal that a personality such as Vlaďka could substantially be done without. It is notable that my acquaintances out there in cyberspace who are fellow fans of Valérie Čižmárová – ‘591010710’, or Aleš Korábek and ‘zappatx’, or Ches Cain – have been leaving comments on some of her videos, variously heaping praise on Vlaďka and enquiring if she is still alive, which, I am relieved to report, she is and will have turned seventy-three today. Given Valinka’s talents I would say that praise from quarters such as that shows that Vlaďka must have been cut from very similar cloth and I wholeheartedly concur. The voice bears all the right hallmarks – power, depth and aural beauty and dare I say that the aural beauty is fully matched by her physical beauty – as Aleš remarked about Valinka in his interview in the documentary on Valinka’s life and work, ‘Příběhy slavných – Léta letí’, “I was impressed in every way”, I think it can safely be said that the same could be said in Vlaďka’s case.

So, to celebrate the birthday, here is just a small sample of Vlaďka’s work.

The way into the world of GOTGE was one of the many coverings of Middle Of The Road’s songs, so let’s kick off with Vlaďka’s more impressive Czech-language version of ‘Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep’, yea, even in comparison with the great Věra Špinarová’s ‘Táta Jan’ (‘Papa John’), ‘Nejdu, nejdu ven’ (‘I’m not going, I’m not going out’). This was recorded on 30th July 1971 at Čs. rozhlas Praha (Czechoslovak Radio, Prague), past which I walked on the way between the Prague Hostel Cathedral and the City Centre during my stay in the city back in January.

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The music was composed by Lally Stott, with Czech-language lyrics by Eduard Krečmar. Accompaniment came from Taneční orchestr Čs. rozhlasu (The Czechoslovak Radio Dance Orchestra) under Josef Vobruba.

From the previous year comes a glimpse into what must have been a hectic day for Vlaďka on 18th August 1970, ‘Hele Kid’ being recorded at Studio Žižkov, in Prague and ‘Hrací strojek’ (‘Musical Instrument’) being recorded in Vlaďka’s home city of Brno, at Čs. rozhlas Brno (Czechoslovak Radio Brno). The music for the former was by Richard Gottehrer (originally as ‘Beat The Clock’) and the Czech-language lyrics by Pavel Cmíral. The music for the latter was by Jiří Kolísek, with lyrics also by Pavel Cmíral. In both cases, accompaniment came from Studio Brno, under Erik Knirsch. In the video for ‘Hele Kid’ can be spotted Karel Gott and Jiří Štaidl, both recently featured in GOTGE.

I have previously featured Czech-language and English-language interpretations of Gerry Goffin and Carole King’s classic for Little Eva, ‘The Loco-Motion’ – from the mid-1960s by Eva Kostolányiová and Eva Máziková and from the early 1980s by Hana Zagorová. In 1972, Vlaďka turned her very able hand to the tune, with ‘Anděl strážný’ (‘Guardian Angel’). Czech-language lyrics were by Miroslav Černý, with accompaniment coming from Orchestr Karla Vágnera (The Karel Vágner Group) and backing vocals from Jezinky.

Talking of Hana Zagorová, take a look at this thriller of a video of a performance from 1971 – not obviously related to any actual vinyl release, unfortunately – of the song, ‘Táhni se svým hříchem dál’ (‘Drag your sin away’). Also talking of Hana Zagorová, what may go some way towards explaining why she and Vlaďka were appearing in association with each other is the aforementioned accompanying group for ‘Anděl strážný’. Hanička would go on to have a very close association with Orchestr Karla Vágnera, they being the regular backing group for Hanička’s own TV show of the early 1980s, ‘Dluhy Hany Zagorové’ and, furthermore, they were also the backing band for Hanička’s own Czech- and English-language interpretations of ‘The Loco-Motion’, the former being entitled ‘Diskohrátky’.

Leaving the finest to last, we have seen Martha and Tena Elefteriadu singing in a cavern in GOTGE before. Here is Vlaďka performing, in 1973, in a similar environment, one of those songs that could be described as Reggae/Ska from east of the former Iron Curtain, ‘Mistr Flint’.

There may have been a few tears shed over yesterday’s outrage in Westminster during this last day or two. Mine today have been tears of awe-struck admiration at Vlaďka at the many other videos there are ‘out there’ of this apparently half-forgotten star…who is a real star. I love this woman so much!

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