On the other side (of the record and of Europe)

I have mentioned, previously, in GOTGE, the fact that Eva Kostolányiová – on her eponymous LP from 1973 – covered the B-Side to Middle Of The Road’s ‘Soley Soley’, ‘To Remind Me’, (Giosy and Mario Capuano/Sally Carr/Lally Stott) as ‘Kade chodieva láska’, with Slovak-language lyrics – which apparently had to be changed after an intervention by the authorities, showing that songwriters were under some pressure from above – by Viola Muránska, instrumental accompaniment from Gustav Brom and his Orchestra, backing vocals by RT – VOX, musical arrangement by Vladimír Valovič, sound engineering by Peter Hubka, Miloš Šindelař and Ing. Peter Janík, technical co-operation by Marie Hořaková, produced by Ivan Horváth and Vladimír Valovič.

Here are those two versions (uncensored, followed by censored). Unfortunately, I cannot seem to be able to track down any written-down lyrics and my Slovak isn’t quite good enough (yet!) to tell what might be the offending words in the uncensored version.

At any rate, it should be quite clear that there is a vast difference between the Euro Sunshine Bubblegum of ‘Soley Soley’ and a tune like this, revealing hidden depths to MOTR and given the fact that the original was partly written by Sally Carr, it shows that she is rather more than just ‘that blonde bird in the hotpants’ in people’s memories from that period.

This was, actually, part of a wider pattern regarding the B-Sides to MOTR’s big hits, which were comparatively much less upbeat than their higher-profile A-Sides, perhaps reflecting the way in which (The) Sweet’s B-Sides, from their earlier, more Bubblegum-oriented period, were actually quite heavy. I often think that Sally Carr and Brian Connolly could have been separated at birth, given long blonde locks, a Scottish birthplace and being released on the famous orange RCA label, so that similarity is perhaps none too surprising.

I have, in recent weeks – in the case of the former of these, only just during the past couple of days – encountered two other Eastern Bloc interpretations of MOTR B-Sides. In the case of the latter, since I promised a few weeks ago that there’d be some material appearing in GOTGE by this artist, the singer was Jana Robbová.

Also in 1973, Margarita Hranova (one can tell whether or not one is talking of an artist from Czechoslovakia or Bulgaria by the presence or absence of the acute accent over the terminal ‘a’) released a cover of the B-Side to ‘Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep’, ‘Rainin’ ‘N’ Painin” (Stott & Cassia), as ‘Дивни години’ (‘Divny godiny’ – ‘Wild Times’), with Bulgarian-language lyrics by Zhiva Kyuldjieva and Ivan Peev, who also provided the musical direction. As one who was born just a couple of days before Věra Špinarová and a month and nine days before Valérie Čižmárová this is another one of those illustrations of what a powerful trio of voices were arriving on the face of the planet somewhere in Eastern Europe in a very short space of time.

Moving back only a matter of months, Jana Robbová arrived on Planet Earth – another stupendous voice – and here is her cover of the B-Side to MOTR’s ‘Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum’, ‘Give It Time’ (music by Giosy and Mario Capuano and original English-language lyrics by Sally Carr), ‘Kormorán’, with Czech-language lyrics by Vladimír Poštulka and instrumental accompaniment from Orchestr divadla Semafor (The Semafor Theatre Orchestra). I like the shots of the MIG jet fighters in Czechoslovak markings accompanying the video. It isn’t the thing one might normally see in a Pop video!..But then again, I have encountered the aforementioned Eva Kostolányiová performing in a video of her cover of the 1972 Eurovision Song Contest Winner, Vicky Leandros’ ‘Come What May’/’Après toi’, ‘Keď si sám’ (‘When You Are Alone’) on the wing of a MIG jet, so on a personal level maybe it isn’t so surprising after all!

Finally, I think I have tracked down how come MOTR had such a strong presence in the former Eastern Bloc, even having their B-Sides covered. According to what I can make out of the text on the label of this MOTR release on the Czechoslovak label, Opus, they must have appeared at the Bratislavská Lýra festival of 1972 – quite a popular Spring/Summer of ’72 for them, then, if they then went on to perform (so I have heard) at the Olympiastadion in Munich later that year.

How come a great British (Scottish?) export as this has been almost totally forgotten in their native land?

MOTR should, by rights, be national heroes!


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