Všechno nejlepší k narozeninám/Všetko najlepšie k narodeninám ‘Silvestr na přání aneb Čí jsou hory Kavčí?’!

I have celebrated the fortieth anniversary of this memorable New Year’s Eve TV entertainment show, produced by Ján Roháč and presented by Vladimír Menšík in this post at ‘Bananas For Breakfast’, so, to back up what I wrote there, here is a selection, that ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ readers may recognise, of some of my favourite Czech and Slovak women in action – being Pop Stars as one may never have seen them before!

As can be seen, it was quite a show!

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Ó Veľký Deň…

…which is Slovak for ‘Oh Great Day’, which is very appropriate for the Christmas Day just beginning – or, as I know it, being Miluška Voborníková’s birthday, ‘Miluška-mas’ 😉

This 1970 song, by Eva Kostolányiová’s sometime singing partner, Eva Máziková, was a cover of The Edwin Hawkins Singers’ Gospel classic, ‘Oh Happy Day’. The music was composed by E. R. Hawkins, with Slovak-language lyrics by V. Hlaváček. Instrumental accompaniment came from Tanečný Orchestr Čs. Rozhlasu v Bratislave (The Czechoslovak Radio Dance Orchestra in Bratislava) under Ivan Horváth and backing vocals from RT-VOX and produced by I. Wasserberger.

This discovery – just this very morning, so it happens – makes it quite regrettable that I omitted Eva Máziková from the ‘Chart Run-Down’ in my article for the ‘Englishman In Slovakia’ Blog: ‘Go East: The Sensual Sounds (and Sights!) of Female-led Czech and Slovak Pop From the ’60’s to the ’80’s’, since this video demonstrates that she is yet another one of those both visually and aurally stunning women in Pop from the Czechoslovakia of the early 1970s and that, if anything, I was maybe under-selling the Slovak part of the former Czechoslovakia as a destination for those interested in Pop Music-related tourism. What this smaller partner in a small country in the ‘wrong’ half of Europe achieved will never cease to astound me…bringing the beautiful Slovak language to the World of Pop and – talking of Christmas and therefore gifts – their very best, Valérie Čižmárová, was the Slovak part’s gift to the Czech part of Czechoslovakia, in a manner of speaking.

With the seasonal message being the ‘Good News’, this is additionally fitting on this day, since – unlike tragic Eva Kostolányiová, who departed this Earth at the paltry age of just thirty-two, this ‘Eva’ is still very much with us and still singing, thus making her that ‘Good News’.

There may well be yet more on this lady to come at GOTGE.

Oh Great/Happy Day, indeed! 🙂

Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep – Middle of the Road – 1971

It’s good to see a bit of good publicity out there elsewhere on another WordPress Blog – simply entitled, in it-does-exactly-what-it-says-on-the-tin fashion, ‘Seventies Music’, unlike the witty title of my other Blog, ‘Bananas For Breakfast’ 😉 – for Middle Of The Road – the band who, in many ways, made both ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ and ‘Bananas For Breakfast’ possible.

It backs up what I say about Middle Of The Road – that success at home was utterly dwarfed by that abroad, including – although that isn’t mentioned here – in the former Eastern Bloc.

I think seeing this (evidently still quite recent) post could be one of those things that will make my Christmas!

seventies music

Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep Middle of the Road 1971Before ABBA, the sound of Europop was Middle of the Road with million disc selling songs like Sacramento, Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum, Soley Soley, and their biggest hit, 1971’s, Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep – which all just goes to prove; the 70s produced some rather bizarre hit records!

middle of the road fax

  • From Glasgow, Scotland, Middle of the Road were popular throughout Europe and Latin America in the early 1970s. Before ABBA appeared on the charts, Middle of the Road were considered the leading sound of Europop scene.
  • The band had an interesting history – lead singer Sally Carr, drummer Ken Andrew, guitarist Ian McCredie and his bassist brother Eric McCredie, originally played as Part Four, before adopting a Latin American flavour and winning the UK TV talent show Opportunity Knocks under the name, Los Caracas.
  • Within a year of forming, and having found little success, the band moved to…

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Klub přátel skupiny československé hudby…

…which is ‘The Club of Friends of Groups of Czechoslovak Music’.

This is the (apparently new) YouTube group that seems to be beginning to populate YouTube with a whole cornucopia of music that originates from exactly the time and place that gets the ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ juices flowing, including the ‘Příběhy slavných – Léta letí’ documentary on Valérie Čižmárová’s life and work, no less. Any group responsible for uploading material like that certainly gets my seal of approval!

It’s been quite a new journey of discovery around some productions that I have hitherto not seen on the medium, so thank you very much for that, K.p.s.čs.h. 🙂

To make up for the fact that I marked neither her birthday nor her date of death – I have in any case made the decision that, on reflection, that is something of a treadmill that GOTGE was on, which will simply end up forcing me to think of new ways of marking these occasions each time they come around, so I have, until now, quietly abandoned that practice, but now is the opportunity to announce this loud and clear to all GOTGE Blog readers. Recording anniversaries, on the other hand, are a different matter – one of the most exciting discoveries – maybe the most exciting discovery, outside of ‘Příběhy slavných – Léta letí’ – has been the following performance of ‘Leto’ (‘Summer’) by Eva Kostolányiová from 1973. So this is the (admittedly belated, from, variously, 2nd November and 3rd October) tribute to the memory of this stunningly beautiful, stylish and talented woman, as many of the GOTGE Generation were. It also comes as no surprise that the song was beautiful, too…and entirely natively composed, with both music and lyrics by Ľudovít Štassel.

This captures Evička in her last full illness-free calendar year, before she contracted breast cancer in the Spring of the following year – eventually succumbing to it in the October of 1975. It is almost unreal to think that this lively, healthy and apparently physically fit young lady is only just about two-and-a-bit years away from death.

The tennis player, Daniela Hantuchová, was known as ‘The Legs from Slovakia’. I think Evička was also fully qualified to be known as such, going by this video 😉

Všechno nejlepší k narozeninám, ‘Dám vám lék’ a ‘Náhody’!

On this day exactly four-and-a-half decades ago two of my very favourite ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ tracks were recorded at Čs. Rozhlas Brno (Czechoslovak Radio, Brno) – Alena Tichá’s ‘Dám vám lék’ (‘I Give You The Cure’) – originally Laura Nyro’s self-composed ‘Hands Off The Man’/’Flim Flam Man’ – and ‘Náhody’ (‘Coincidences’), so it’s a ‘Happy Birthday!’ to those two tracks.

The former had Czech-language lyrics composed by Jiří Kameš and the music for the latter was composed by the great tunesmith, Max Wittmann, with lyrics coming from Pavel Cmíral and both were to the instrumental accompaniment of Orchestr Studio Brno, under Erik Knirsch.

I have remarked at ‘Bananas For Breakfast’ about the fact that – according to ‘The Guinness Book Of Hits Of The 70s’, based on the UK Top 75 – many of the original versions of Valérie Čižmárová’s covers of material originating from west of the former Iron Curtain simply did not feature in the UK Top 75. According to the following excerpt, Laura Nyro managed not one single entry into that chart, so presumably they would know more about both ‘Hands Off The Man’/’Flim Flam Man’ and Laura Nyro in the Czech Republic and Slovakia than most British people would do, which is a great pity, since it is an absolutely superb (slow-ish) Northern Soul-type melody and Alena Tichá delivers her version with her customary gorgeous, sumptuous voice.

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Here is an utterly charming video of ‘Dám vám lék’.

…and here is the cracking coolness of ‘Náhody’.

I often think that Alena Tichá should have a higher profile than she appears to have. As a fan of rich voices she is absolutely up my musical street!

Všechno nejlepší k narozeninám, ‘Pan Tydlitýt a pan Tydlitát’!

Today is a double celebration (also marked over on ‘Bananas For Breakfast’) of the forty-sixth ‘birthday’ of the recording – at the studio in Dejvice, Prague – of two records that were based on the orange RCA label Bubblegum Pop output of, variously, Middle Of The Road and The Sweet.

Hana Zagorová – the one who started my journey into the weird and wonderful world of Eastern Bloc female Pop – took on Middle Of The Road’s ‘Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum’, as ‘Pan Tydlitýt a pan Tydlitát’, while Valérie Čižmárová took on The Sweet’s ‘Co-Co’, as ‘Koko’.

This was going to be a more thoroughly-written affair, but I’ve just fully joined the ‘communications revolution’ and have been busy this evening with seeing how my blog looks on a proper smartphone!

I’ll get this out while it’s still the 22nd!

It is a hugely significant date, though, so I at least wanted to mark it.

There’s a train a-comin’…to Olomouc hlavní nádraží

In this ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ post there is a continuation of the recent theme of:

(a) Helena Blehárová

(b) Trains

and

(c) Football (or ‘Soccer’, to American readers!)

The most recent of the Helena Blehárová videos I have encountered is her Czech-language version of the Curtis Mayfield song, originally recorded by The Impressions in 1965, ‘People Get Ready’ – the lyrics immediately following the title being “there’s a train a-comin'” – ‘Život jde dál’ (‘Life Goes On’), from 1973, accompanied by Gustav Brom and his Orchestra.

Being an aficionado of Modernist Architecture, I was wondering where this striking complex of buildings might be. ‘Intersigma’, it transpired, is a fairly international term, not really incontrovertibly specifically Czech or Slovak, but thank goodness that one of the signs in the background dropped the ‘Inter-‘ to leave just ‘Sigma’, which gave a massive clue regarding the city where this video would have been shot.

Knowing a thing or two about football clubs in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, I was already familiar with the name Sigma Olomouc, the full name of which is actually SK Sigma Olomouc. If one compares the logos on the shirts of the SK Sigma Olomouc players in this Winter Break fixture away at, it just so happens, Helena Blehárová’s home city club, MŠK Žilina – incidentally, with the same snow in the background as would have lain there four, five and six days after this match, when I was visiting the city back in January this year – with that on the signs in the background in the ‘Život jde dál’ video, that is the ‘clincher’. It more or less 100% is Olomouc, therefore.

This is another one of those cases where my dealings with matters Eastern European go back some way, since when the group Half Man Half Biscuit had ‘All I Want For Christmas Is A Dukla Prague Away Kit’ out in the mid-1980s I had already heard the name Sigma Olomouc by then and was quite taken with the sound of it, so my alternative version of that would have been ‘All I Want For Christmas Is A Sigma Olomouc Away Kit’. I wasn’t quite aware at the time, though, that their home kit is blue and white – just like my club, Norwich City’s dreaded local rivals, Ipswich Town…which might have put me off a little…at that time, but not at the height of the ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ Era, I hasten to add. Please read below to see why.

Curiously, in the heart of the ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ Era in the early 1970s, my ‘adoption’ of Norwich City was still some years into the future and as a Derbyshireman and as one with affectionate feelings vis-à-vis the North-East Derbyshire town of Chesterfield at the time – (a) the days out with Dad and my older brother, Julian at Derbyshire County Cricket Club matches at Chesterfield’s beautiful Queen’s Park ground, with lunchtime boating on the lake were a dream and (b) a new family ‘tradition’ sprang up whereby the treat of a fireworks party on Guy Fawkes’ Night was replaced by a Chinese meal for the family, when that was still considered something quite exotic, at the ‘Superior’ restaurant in Chesterfield – I exercised my right to be a bit different from Derby County-supporting Julian by becoming a Chesterfield fan. They happen to play in blue and white, so I haven’t always been ‘allergic’ to football teams who play in that strip!

Furthermore, when I was picking through a selection of Scottish clubs to ‘adopt’ in the days of the family’s ‘Dormobile’ holidays in Scotland in the late 1960s, another name that cropped up before I eventually settled on Dunfermline Athletic, on the basis that I liked the sound of the name, was the Perth-based club, St. Johnstone…who play in…you guessed it…blue and white!

So, thank you, Helenka, for reminding me of the days when footballing blue and white wasn’t ‘poison’, even though your home city team is yellow and green!

In keeping with early 1970s feelings, then, there might be nothing untoward at all about my becoming an SK Sigma Olomouc fan, after all!