Všetko najlepšie k narodeninám, ‘Waterloo’!

Having recently had the opportunity, both here at ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ and over on its ‘sister’ Blog, ‘Bananas For Breakfast’, the Fan Blog for Valérie Čižmárová to tease out the fact that Eva Kostolányiová’s eponymous LP was recorded on the same day as Valérie Čižmárová’s incredible ‘V poschodí pátém’ and ‘Malý princ’ (9th July 1973) – please go over to the ‘Valérie Čižmárová: A Life In Sound’ page of ‘Bananas For Breakfast’ to see (or rather, hear!) what I mean – what also came to light was the personal link to Eva Kostolányiová’s cover of ABBA’s landmark Eurovision Song Contest Winner of 1974, ‘Waterloo’ – ABBA being currently topical on account of the spin-off from the original ‘Mamma Mia!’ movie, ‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’ recently having its première – inasmuch as it was recorded on my 13th birthday, on 19th July 1974. To Andersson, Ulvaeus and Andersson’s music was added Slovak-language lyrics by Alexander Karšay.

This would have been at a tragic time in the all-too-short life of ‘Evička’, who passed away aged just 32 – she having been diagnosed (ironically, while on tour in Sweden!) with breast cancer in the Spring of that year, an illness that would go on to take her life in October of the following year. Despite the toll that medical treatment and the disease itself was exacting on her voice too (having a roughening effect) Evička’s performance remains a triumph, as the following video taken from the Slovak television show, ‘Interparáda’ demonstrates…and I could not have wished for a better 13th birthday ‘present’ than this!

A fittingly ‘battling’ display, as Evička was meeting her personal ‘Waterloo’!

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Všetko najlepšie k 45. narodeninám, ‘Eva Kostolányiová’!

It was four-and-a-half decades ago today when the ‘Eva Kostolányiová’ album was recorded!

Side 1

Príma panoptikum (A Nice Collection Of Curios)

Music: Stott, Capuano. Lyrics: Laurinc.

Rieka detstva (River Of Childhood)

Music: Bramlett, Russel. Lyrics: Muránska.

Mávnutím (I’m Waving)

Music: Carpenter, Bettis. Lyrics: Štrasser.

Jesenný úsmev (Autumnal Smile)

Music: Lehotský . Lyrics: Štrasser.

Keď je zima (When It’s Cold)

Music: Horváth. Lyrics: Laurinc.

Ruka s kvetom (The Hand With The Flower)

Music: Bázlik. Lyrics: Brhlovič.

Hviezdny sonet (Sonet Of The Stars)

Music: Colombier. Lyrics: Laurinc.

Side 2

Luna sype zo zástery (The Moon Spills From Her Apron)

Music: Gerhardt. Lyrics: Janovic.

Povesť o skale (A Story About The Rock)

Music: Simon, Garfunkel. Lyrics: Muránska.

Znie smiech tiet (Sounds Of Laughter Following)

Music: Fischman. Lyrics: Brhlovič.

Si dážď (You Are The Rain)

Music: Bacharach. Lyrics: Janovic.

Kade chodieva láska (Where Does Love Go)

Music: Carr, Capuano. Lyrics: Muránska.

Týždeň po svadbe (The Week After The Wedding)

Music: Isbell, Jones, Redding. Lyrics: Janovic.

Helenka ‘sa vráti’ na Manchestere! Po 55 rokov!

On Friday, 7th June 1963, Helena Blehárová sang, to the accompaniment of her long-time collaborator, Gustav Brom and His Orchestra, amongst other songs, ‘Moonlight In Vermont’, intially made famous by Ella Fitzgerald, alongside Frank Sinatra, at the ‘Daily Mail’ International Jazz Festival at Belle Vue, Manchester. Yesterday – exactly five-and-a-half decades to the day down the line – the future fan of all things Eastern Bloc, Female and Pop (then just under two years of age and approximately sixty miles away in his home town of Belper…and probably tightly tucked up in bed!) paid a visit, equipped with Helena Blehárová’s eponymous 1976 LP, so that ‘Helenka’ could ‘return’ to the city herself.

A very pleasant (and well-earned?) picnic was had in Gorton Park, Belle Vue after the walk out from Manchester Piccadilly Station – I reason that ‘Pop Pilgrimages’ are best experienced on one’s own two feet, as evidenced by my walk, during my stay in Prague in January 2017, all the way from the Mozarteum, on Jungmannova, where Valérie Čižmárová did many of her classic recordings, to her burial place out at the Nový Židovský Hřbitov (The New Jewish Cemetery) – some of the way, interestingly enough, being along the A6 (the road that passes through Belper), meaning that Helenka may well have herself been along “my town’s road”.

One thing that did occur to me was how contrasting the weather was yesterday from when I visited Helenka’s home city of Žilina, in North-Western Slovakia, like Prague, in January 2017, the temperatures there plummeting to -21 Degrees Celsius, probably the coldest I have ever experienced first-hand!…quite un-Manchester-like…the real Manchester weather apparently occurring back home in Belper, where my brother, Julian had to bring my washing in while he happened to be around my house. No sign of anything like that at all in the legendarily ‘Rainy City’.

Here is a selection of the photos I took as a memento of that memorable close-to-home ‘Girls Of The Golden East Pop Pilgrimage’. I especially love the one of the ‘Northern Soul’ hoardings with the ‘Helena Blehárová’ LP, since, in my opinion, she is a real Northern Soul Girl…or, as I describe it in my invention of maybe a new genre of Pop Music, ‘Eastern Soul’ – Northern Soul-like music devised entirely in the former Eastern Bloc, in my case, more specifically, performed by the females of the Pop World east of the former Iron Curtain. I thought, “Helenka, this is where you belong…Northern Soul country!”

If one doesn’t believe me about ‘Eastern Soul’, just listen to Helenka’s ‘Slunce už hvězdy zháší’ (‘The Sun Is Already Putting Out The Stars’) with music by Jaromír Kratochvíl, ‘Tak dávno’ (‘So Long Ago’) with music by Bohuslav Ondráček and, since some Northern Soul records are what some Northern Soul DJs call “a bit of Rhythm and Blues”, I’ve got a lot of time for Helenka’s ‘Nauč mě čarovat’ (‘Teach Me To Do Magic’), with music by Jindřich Brabec. That’s what one calls ‘magic’!

Get your Northern (‘Eastern’) dancing shoes on and celebrate the ‘Honorary Manc Lass’ I consider Helenka to be!…the only ‘Girl Of The Golden East’ (as far as I am aware) to have graced these shores with the Soulful voice that so marks her ilk out, to the extent that I think of both Czech and Slovak as ‘languages of Soul’.

Všechno nejlepší k narozeninám, Alenka!

I might not be making completely new ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ posts on particular birthdays, but I may as well re-blog this one just t keep matters ticking over.

'Girls Of The Golden East'

The day immediately following the day on which Valérie Čižmárová ‘dotted the Is and crossed the Ts’ of her eponymous LP, Alena Tichá celebrated her Thirtieth Birthday, so it’s a Happy Seventy-Third Birthday to Alenka today!

In many ways there is a lot to associate Alenka with the singer born just nineteen days previously and circa forty miles away, Vlaďka Prachařová – the one being born in Zlín (becoming known as Gottwaldov during the Communist era, before reverting to its old name) and the other in Brno – since they both have that gorgeous tone to the voice and, although Alenka is not quite such an obvious ‘sex bomb’ as Vlaďka, there is a ‘quiet sexiness’ there, which is entirely fitting, since the surname, ‘Tichá’ literally does mean ‘quiet’ (a somewhat inappropriate name for a singer, then!) Another thing that is entirely fitting is that her cover of The Archies’…

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Das Mädchen “Made in Magdeburg”

As an introduction to this latest ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ post let me take the reader back to my very first experience of the former Eastern Bloc on a blisteringly hot day (8th July 1995) on one of those ultra-cheap ‘Schönes Wochenende’ (‘Beautiful Weekend’) Deutsche Bahn tickets, giving one unlimited travel on the rail network, provided that one used only regional and local stopping services. I was on the EU’s COMETT programme, learning archaeological surveying, drawing and documentation techniques on an archaeological dig with the Kulturgeschichtliches Museum Osnabrück and very often I would take off during the weekend on a ‘Schönes Wochenende’ ticket to explore the country. At the students’ residence where I was lodging each ‘Flur’ (corridor) shared a communal living area/kitchen and I happened to be living on the same ‘Flur’ as a young lady from Sachsen-Anhalt (Kakerbeck, near Salzwedel), one of the new Bundesländer in the former German Democratic Republic. She was quite a quiet person away from the two friends on the ‘Flur’ – one of Turkish descent from Hamburg and the other from Warendorf, near Osnabrück – with whom she made up a sort of ‘Big Three’ of the ‘Flur’, but I did manage to crack into that reticence on one Sunday afternoon, in the course of which conversation she alluded to the strange ideas that people from what had been West Germany evidently had had about former East Germans when she once got to meet them and talk to them after the Berlin Wall came crashing. My remarkable ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ discoveries have probably been a case-in-point suppporting what she said. How wrong Westerners indeed were about the former Eastern Bloc!

Knowing that Magdeburg was her Landeshauptstadt I long wanted to impress her by actually visiting the city, so on the aforementioned day, as – back home in the UK – Germany’s Steffi Graf was beating Spain’s Arantxa Sánchez Vicario in the Ladies’ Final, I shared a packed-to-the-gunnels train with revellers bound for a ‘Love Parade’ in Berlin – my portable battery fan being very welcome! – on the way from Hannover to Magdeburg for my first taste of the East.

All I really felt like doing on that stifling day was just mooching aimlessly along the banks of the River Elbe – or, given my Czech discoveries of late, maybe I should call it the ‘Labe’! – and into the city centre, stopping for a much-needed glass of refreshing lemon tea at a café. Given the slowness of the train journeys I only managed a couple of hours or so in the city but I had had my first encounter with the ‘panelové’ buildings (as the Czechs would call them) and (talking of things Czech) Tatra trams of the former Eastern Bloc. This seemed a very different world from my native Belper!

Here are the photos I took of Magdeburg on that never-to-be-forgotten occasion.

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It just so happens that one of my latest ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ discoveries, Gabriele Kluge, is a native of Magdeburg – born there in 1949, on a date which I unfortunately cannot specify – and I have to say that her ‘Barfuß im weißen Sand’ (‘Barefoot In The White Sand’), from the year in which she would have turned twenty, is yet another one of those cases of the former Eastern Bloc coming up with a superb very Northern Soul-like offering. Well, I’ve been ‘back-dropping’ to it at any rate! As well as my not being able to specify her birth date, I cannot seem to be able to pin down the recording credits either, which is a greay pity.

So, get your dancing shoes on to this!

To see Gabriele in action on film here is her ‘Der Sommerwind’ (‘The Summer Wind’)…accompanied by – after my East German friend’s remarks about stereotypes – perhaps one of those ‘typical Eastern Bloc staples’…combine harvesters!

Since Magdeburg was my original entry point east of the former Iron Curtain maybe Gabriele could, symbolically, become my ‘First Love’ on the East German scene!

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!

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! 🙂