Valinka ‘společná’ s Dusty Springfieldovou

Which is “Valinka…’together’ with Dusty Springfield” in Czech…

…by which I mean via their respective Musical Directors, at the Bratislavská Lýra of 1972.

Having seen a video on YouTube by ‘Klub přátel skupiny československé hudby’ (‘The Club of Friends of Groups of Czechoslovak Music’) of the ‘Příběhy slavných – Léta letí’ documentary on Valinka’s life and work…

…which looks as if it is going to be an excellent source of videos for my two Blogs, I have been taken to one or two other videos by the same party, including one by that other hugely talented and incredibly beautiful singer from the Slovak part of the former Czechoslovakia, Eva Kostolányiová, singing ‘Leto’ (‘Summer’) in 1973. This song was featured on the Various Artists album, ‘Bratislavská Lýra ’73’ and I have, accordingly, been taking a look at other Bratislavská Lýra-related albums at the Discogs site.

The album, ‘Bratislavská Lýra 1972’, featuring a varied selection of foreign artists, has been a particularly startling revelation inasmuch as it has been further evidence that the group, Middle Of The Road, who were a key factor in the events that led to the founding of ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ and subsequently, ‘Bananas For Breakfast’, not only had their songs copiously covered east of the former Iron Curtain. They also appeared there themselves (indeed, their appearances in the German Democratic Republic are an upcoming attraction at GOTGE). We also see a girlfriend of a BeeGee (Maurice Gibb), the Hungarian star, Sarolta Zalatnay (complete with the obligatory ‘-ová’ appended to her name, as with all foreign female personalities!…although there is one exception to that rule in this line-up), the British teen sensation, Neil Reid, a future ‘Mistress of Polish Disco Funk’, Zdzisława Sośnicka (that was the aforementioned exception!) and the performer of a subsequent version of the James Bond theme, ‘Live And Let Die’ (1973), (originally performed by Wings), Brenda Arnau. However, it is the reference to the Conductors that is most definitely a yet more startling revelation.

One will note that these were Ivor Raymonde and Karel Vlach.

I have made reference previously in BFB to the way in which Valinka was, in her voice, a sort of combination of the raw power of Lulu, the ‘Blackness’ of Dusty Springfield and the gorgeous richness of Helen Shapiro and how, therefore, she combined the best of three of the British female greats of the 1960s in one artist in the Czechoslovakia of the 1970s.

Well, look who was accompanied by, respectively, Karel Vlach and Ivor Raymonde!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

…the single on the left being Valinka’s ‘Pojď jen dál’ (‘Just Come On’) and the EP on the right being Dusty’s ‘I Only Want To Be With You’ – respectively to the instrumental accompaniment of Karel Vlach and Ivor Raymonde, just as in the case of the ‘Valerie Čižmárová’  and ‘A Girl Called Dusty’ LPs!

Maybe there is something symbolic about the way in which the single and EP and the two LPs are separated by almost exactly a decade, showing that the 1960s had been all about the girls from Britain and that the 1970s were all about the girls of Czechoslovakia!

Dusty had been famous for the way in which she whipped the Ivor Raymonde Orchestra into shape – turning them from staid, suburban, Brtish session musicians into the British ‘answer’ to Tamla Motown’s Funk Brothers and Phil Spector’s Wrecking Crew. I wonder if Karel and Ivor took this opportunity of meeting up together to ‘compare notes’ and if this enabled Karel to bring yet more funkiness to the table – although his orchestra wasn’t exactly short on that beforehand with Valinka’s ‘Za sluncem, za vodou’ (‘In Sunshine, In Water’) in 1971! – when it came to ‘Pojď jen dál’ and the other Valinka singles recorded in 1973 accompanied by Karel: ‘Sbohem, školní bráno’ (‘Farewell, School Gate’), ‘Spousta příběhů’ (‘Lots Of Stories’) and ‘Zrzek’ (‘Redhead’) and the 1974-recorded, 1975-released LP.

I had no idea that the Valinka-Dusty connection could possibly have got this literally personal!

 

Advertisements

Boldog születésnapot! x 2

An ongoing theme of my Pop Music discoveries from east of the former Iron Curtain has been the strange connection between the apparently dim and distant ‘lost world’ of that Pop scene and the gaudy, noisy world of the Saturday morning (in the U.S. and the UK) and ‘teatime’ (in the UK) novelty TV Pop coming out of the West in the early 1970s. Never was that more apparent than in the case of Valinka’s ‘Dávno nejsem hloupá’, which had originally been Lancelot Link and The Evolution Revolution’s ‘Sha-La Love You’ – recorded, along with ‘Léta letí’, on this date in 1970 at Studio A, Karlín.

I have recently enjoyed my first professional ‘gig’ as a Tour Guide for my walk, for Enjoying Derby,  around the former nightspots of my home city of Derby – re-visiting my ‘A Night Out in Derby…In the Afternoon???’ walk of some seven-and-three-quarters years ago; this time – thanks to my experiences with ‘Bananas For Breakfast’/’Girls Of The Golden East’ – with a distinctly early and mid-1970s flavour and using significant dates for Valinka – most notably, of course, her recording dates – as a starting-off point for my research for the walk. It was notable that – on the two recording dates separated by exactly six months in her great year of 1973: 9th January for ‘Tak měj mě rád’/’Mít aero a létat’ and 9th July for ‘V poschodí pátém’/’Malý princ’, looking in the ‘Derby Evening Telegraph’ at the TV listings for those days, just to get an impression of what an evening in might have been like at the time, on BBC 1 on the former date, there was an episode of ‘Josie and The Pussycats’ at 4.50 pm and again on the latter date at 4.55 pm.

‘Josie and The Pussycats’ was a show very much in the same vein as ‘Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp’, the show on which Lancelot Link and The Evolution Revolution would play some of their songs – although the former was an animated series and the latter used live chimpanzees to play the characters – a fictional Pop group getting involved in all manner of capers. It is quite bizarre that one of the characters in ‘Josie and The Pussycats’ should have had the first name, Valerie (‘Brown’ in the series and ‘Smith’ in the ‘Archie’ strip cartoon version), doubly bizarre that the real-life singer who sang Valerie’s role, Patrice Holloway, herself died sometime in the mid 2000s in her fifties, just like Valinka and threefold bizarre that – on 5th December 1970 – the Saturday morning audience of CBS would have settled down in front of the first-ever showing of Episode Thirteen, ‘The Great Pussycat Chase’. Maybe yet another layer of bizarreness enters the equation here, given the fact that my journey of Pop music discoveries that ultimately led to the former Eastern Bloc effectively began in France – that much of the action of ‘The Great Pussycat Chase’ takes place in Paris.

Who knows? – an East Coast Saturday morning would have been a Prague-time Saturday afternoon, so maybe at exactly the same time as a U.S. audience were watching a fictional ‘Valerie’ in action a real-life ‘Valérie’ was in action at a recording studio in Prague….

….in which kind of surroundings Valinka would also have covered the aforementioned Archies’ ‘Who’s Your Baby’, as ‘Důkaz mi dej’ on 4th May in ‘that’ year of 1973, in which she sounded as ‘Black’ as the then ground-breaking African-American character that was Valerie Brown/Valerie Smith.

Finally, another great early 1970s fictional Saturday morning TV Pop group was The Banana Splits, which brings us once again back to Valinka – the singer who launched a career singing about bananas (in her cover of The Kinks’ ‘Sunny Afternoon’, ‘Slunný podnebí’), thus giving this Blog its name…and what should chimpanzees be famous for eating?

Bananas!

Well, that’s a word that just about sums Valinka up!

‘Bananas!’ background and origins, ‘bananas!’ life story, ‘bananas!’ talent, ‘bananas!’ musical connections and ‘bananas!’ beauty.

 

Boldog születésnapot!

Usually, when I am celebrating ‘birthdays’ at ‘Bananas For Breakfast’, it is either for recordings at a recording studio or the occasional TV appearance (one of which, it occurs to me, I have recently missed). However, today there is a slight exception, giving an opportunity to highlight Valinka’s theatrical work at the Divadlo Rokoko in her early career in the public eye.

DR_Entrance_01

DR_Entrance_02

28th September 1970, when Valinka was still just eighteen, marked the first stage performance of the Divadlo Rokoko’s production of ‘Pan Pickwick’, based on the Charles Dickens novel, ‘Mr. Pickwick’. In this, Valinka played the role of Márinka, the flower girl.

One of Márinka’s key songs in the production was ‘Dívám se dívám’ (‘I’m looking to watch’), with music by Zdeněk Petr and libretto by Ivo Fischer with Vladimír Raška’s Orchestra providing the instrumental accompaniment. As one finds oneself remarking when considering work from Valinka’s early career it is a performance of astonishing maturity for a teenage Pop Star about to cover a song originally by a novelty Bubblegum Pop act such as Lancelot Link and The Evolution Revolution (‘Dávno nejsem hloupá’).

If one goes to Page 2 in the following album (third photo in the first row, the fourth and fifth in the second row and the first in the third row) one can see some photos of Valinka in the role of Márinka, taken by Vilém Sochůrek – the photographer who captured Valinka’s atmospheric artistry on the cover of ‘Když mě chceš’/’Proč se ti zdá’, both recorded on the final day of the 1960s and her striking beauty and adorable cuteness in the cover shot – and two others from that shoot – that adorned her singles from early 1974 to 1977. Please, also, do not overlook Valinka’s close friend from the Divadlo Rokoko days, Jitka Zelenková, in the role of Emilka, in the second and third photos in the first row and the first in the second row on Page 1 of the album.

KMC_Cover_VS

Valerie_SP_Z_Cover

ateliér sochůrek

Valerie_the_Radiant

 

 

Boldog születésnapot x 2!

‘Láska na dlani’ (‘Love On The Palm Of Your Hand’) and ‘Náhodou’ (‘By Chance’) were both recorded on 24th September 1973 – the former in a duet with Richard Kybic (music by Pavel Skalický and lyrics by Pavel Žák) and the latter solo (music by Jan Hrábek and lyrics by Miroslav Černý), with instrumental accompaniment, in both cases, from Skupina Svatopluka Čecha, so it is a ‘Happy Birthday!’ to those two tracks today.

In the image immediately below, in the background with Valinka, is the Skupina Svatopluka Čecha, who brought their five-month-long recording stint with Valinka at Mozarteum to a close with these two recordings – perhaps one of the most memorable musical collaborations in the history of the Pop Music of Czechoslovakia….if only for the brevity and intensity of it.

Unfortunately, there is still no YouTube video that can be embedded of ‘Náhodou’, but ‘Bananas For Breakfast’ readers may like to take a look at Valinka performing that song in a TV show from the following year at the ‘Valérie Čižmárová: A Life In Pictures’ page of the Blog, where there is also a reference to the aforementioned collaboration with Skupina Svatopluka Čecha.

Boldog születésnapot!

Today is a double celebration (also marked over on ‘Girls Of The Golden East’) 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, The Sweet and Middle Of The Road.

Valinka took on The Sweet’s ‘Co-Co’, as ‘Koko’ while 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’.

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.

Boldog születésnapot!

‘Pán s loutnou’ (‘The Gentleman With The Lute’) – written by Jindrich Brabec and Michael Prostěovský, accompanied by Taneční Orchestr Čs. Rozhlasu (The Czechoslovak Radio Dance Orchestra), under Josef Vobruba, with backing vocals from Jezinky and produced by Miloš Skalka – was recorded forty-six years ago today at the studio at Dejvice, Prague, so it is a ‘Happy Birthday!’ to that track. Here is a performance of it from the programme, ‘Písničky ke kávě’ (‘Songs For Coffee Break’), from 1972 (on an unfortunately unspecified date) on which ‘Koko’ and ‘Dávno nejsem hloupá’ were also performed.

It is notable that – in the more than four-and-a-half years that have elapsed since its publication on YouTube on 6th March 2013 – this has been viewed a grand total of just 318 times, indicating that this is perhaps a forgotten or overlooked title in Valinka’s oeuvre, which is a pity, since, although it was not one of her most spectacular tracks, it is at least a very agreeable offering.

It is also a pity that, thus far, although I am fairly confident that the year of Valinka’s marriage to Doctor Josef Langer was also 1972, I have never been able to pin down an exact date for that either, because I have only this last day spotted that, in two of the stills from that performance (seen below) Valinka can be seen wearing a wedding ring on the third finger of her left hand. If one knew the date of the marriage one would at least be able to say that this performance must have post-dated that.

 

Over on the new page of the ‘Bananas For Breakfast’ Blog: ‘Valérie Čižmárová: A Life In Pictures’, there is a series of stills from the ever-so-slightly more popular video of Valinka’s performance of ‘Pojď jen dál’ on the TV show, ‘3. program Orchestru Karla Vlacha’ on 28th June 1973 (29,828 views since its publication on 28th September 2009). Considering that there may have been a matter of only a very few months between these two TV appearances there could not be a greater contrast between the still-relatively-innocent girl (it is almost unreal to think of her as an already-married woman) singing a whimsical song about a gentleman with a lute and the made-up and glammed-up goddess demanding why a hesitant suitor can’t pluck up the courage to ask her out.

This must have been an awful (but, in a way, pleasant?) shock to the viewers of ‘3. program Orchestru Karla Vlacha’!

Kde jsou písničky/umělci/skupiny, co sledují?

…Which is “Where are the songs/artists/groups that follow?” in the best Czech that I can write at the moment – being now determined to make at least the titles for ‘Bananas For Breakfast’ and ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ Blog posts in Czech, or some other appropriate language – apart from the usual ‘Happy Birthday!’ Blog post titles, marking Valinka’s recording anniversaries in her native language of Hungarian. I will get to doing other things in Hungarian in all good time!

The title is as it is because it has long been a creeping realisation that many of the excellent tunes that Valinka brought to the record-purchasing public of Czechoslovakia via her cover versions of originals from outside the former Eastern Bloc simply passed the record-purchasing public of the UK by. The following very revealing set of shots from ‘The Guinness Book Of Hits Of The 70’s’ (based on the Top 75) demonstrate that the aforementioned creeping realisation is more than just a fanciful impression. It stares one incontrovertibly in the face in black and white – or rather, black and sky blue! – that it is cold, hard truth.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We start with ABBA’s ‘So Long’, covered by Valinka as ‘Jeho laskominy’. Where is it in this (long!) list of ABBA records that entered the Top 75?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The following would go some way towards explaining why I had to go searching to establish the fact that Valinka’s towering Soul offering, ‘Důkaz mi dej’ – that totally blew me away when I first heard it – had been based on an original by The Archies: ‘Who’s Your Baby’. They were a bit more than just ‘Sugar Sugar’! It’s interesting to note, incidentally, one of the composers of the original in which Valinka’s ‘Oči nelžou’ (see below) had its origins, Miki Anthony entering the UK Top 75 for a one-and-only time in a notable year for Valinka, with his own ‘If It Wasn’t For The Reason That I Love You’; just five days before the recordings of ‘Pojď jen dál’ and ‘Sbohem, školní bráno’ (see below).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It is probably a now well-known fact amongst ‘Bananas For Breakfast’ followers that Valinka’s ‘Dávno nejsem hloupá’ is a huge favourite of mine and that this was a cover of Lancelot Link and The Evolution Revolution’s ‘Sha-La Love You’. This group should be somewhere in between Laurie Lingo and The Dipsticks and Liquid Gold. But they are simply not there.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Melanie’s ‘Stop, I Don’t Wanna Hear It Anymore’ was Valinka’s ‘Sbohem, školní bráno’. Here is yet another instance of a glaring omission.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Over on the other side of the record to my personal favourite was Valinka’s cover of Giorgio Moroder’s ‘Looky, Looky’ – her biggest hit, ‘Léta letí’. We here in the UK did not even get a sniff of the tune behind one of the hits of Czechoslovakia’s 1970s.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Perhaps a favourite of Valinka’s later years in the recording studio is the glorious ‘Tikot všech hodin’. There had been no ‘Looky, Looky’ for Giorgio Moroder in the UK Top 75. His muse, Donna Summer, experienced exactly the same fate with her original on which ‘Tikot všech hodin’ was based – ‘Wasted’: a ‘Wasted’ opportunity here in the UK?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Finally, the original behind my first YouTube upload – Valinka’s ‘Oči nelžou’ – was New Zealander, Craig Scott’s ‘When Jo-Jo Runs’. They know all about that tune – and probably, by extension, a little about Craig Scott himself – in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, but we – fellow British Commonwealth nation that we are – are evidently totally and utterly unfamiliar with both, since Craig Scott should be somewhere in between the Scotland World Cup Squad and Sea Level.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ah! Those Mod Revivalists, Secret Affair! Time was when ‘Time For Action’ was ‘My World’ back in 1979 as a young nouveau Mod and the UK, 1964 was where that ‘Action’ was.

I think, thanks to Valinka, that World has expanded outwards just a little…and all the ‘Action’ has gone Czechoslovakia, 1973 now 😉

At any rate, Capitalist World versus Communist World was a slightly more significant battle ground than Mod versus Rocker 😉 😉

Hmmm! Now! Was Valinka a Mod or a Rocker? 😉 😉 😉