Why I am a ‘Valinker’

(Introductory ‘Sticky’ Blog post – Links also here)

For about a year and a month (as at the time of the original posting) I have been running a WordPress.com Blog entitled ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ devoted to the subject of Female and Female-led Pop Music coming out of the Former Eastern Bloc in a period running from the latter stages of the 1960s to the beginning of the 1980s, ending up concentrating especially on the early to mid-1970s – with a long introduction made up of partially redacted E-Mails (mostly sent to my older brother) that I wrote in between the end of May 2015…

…when I first started really digging into the world, on YouTube in particular and the Web in general, that was to become ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ that I had initially glimpsed via Hana Zagorová’s cover of Middle Of The Road’s ‘Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum’, ‘Pan Tydlitýt a pan Tydlitát’ (‘Mr. Tydlitýt And Mr. Tydlitát’), of which I had been aware on YouTube for two or three years, but it was only an off-the-cuff remark by a careers advisor at that time that the future of careers using Modern Foreign Languages lay in the languages of Eastern Europe that suddenly brought my thoughts back to Hana Zagorová (that I initially pronounced to myself as ‘Za-guh-ROH-vuh’, before I knew better about how Czech and Slovak female surnames should be stressed!)…

…and the time around my first-ever visit, in early March 2016, to a part of the Former Eastern Bloc (Slovakia) that wasn’t the former German Democratic Republic. This was with the intention to attend a concert in Petržalka, Bratislava, as part of the events marking forty years since the tragically early passing of Eva Kostolányiová (through which I unfortunately slept in my hotel room as a result of underestimating how physically shattered I would be after an overnight sailing and another overnight rail journey!) with the additional bonus of the prospect of visiting the birthplace of Valérie Čižmárová, Michalovce.

Although Hana Zagorová had been my ‘entry point’ into this hitherto completely unknown world, amongst all the to me exotic-sounding names that I encountered in my initial period of discovery running, on and off, through the Summer of 2015 to early 2016, it was Valérie Čižmárová that was ‘the one’ who – towards the end of August 2015 – really leapt out at me via her photo on the Discogs site, the discovery, in very short order, that she originated from such a remote place as Michalovce, in the then-unexplored Slovak part of the former Czechoslovakia, had sadly passed away at just fifty-three and had apparently just released one LP, with some of the most astounding photography of young womankind I had ever encountered on the front and rear covers, taken by the very fortunate Vladivoj Burjanek.

Valerie_Discogs_Portrait

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Valerie_1975_LP_Cover_Rear

Within a matter of two-and-a-half months I finally took the plunge and ordered a copy of the LP on-line, thus opening my account of tracking down the vinyl that the record industry of the Former Eastern Bloc turned out. I had checked out a few of Valérie Čižmárová’s material out there on YouTube – most notably her covers of Boney M’s ‘Belfast’, under the same title as the original and of The Sweet’s ‘Co-Co’, with the title slightly modified to ‘Koko’, which was also included in the medley of ‘oldies’ on the first track of the LP, that I had also checked out on YouTube, but the rest of the LP arrived with my knowing nothing of how this stunning-looking young lady might sound on vinyl, so one can well imagine my reaction when I heard this for the very first time – the one and only ‘Koňskou dráhou’, which I subsequently discovered meant ‘On The Horse Tram’.

‘Bananas For Breakfast’ readers will need to know here that I am enthusiast – amongst a whole raft of apparently mutually contradictory genres – for what is known as Northern Soul – danceable music based on the music of Tamla Motown and everything that was influenced by that, that has historically had a very strong presence in the clubs of the Northern half of Britain, where I live, hence the name. I thought, “you know what…you could dance Northern Soul-style to that hook line. It’s sensational!”… and the discovery that the composers of the tune were native and that this was no cover of Western material – Vítězslav Hádl and Ladislav Pikart – added to that sense of wonder at what Eastern Bloc Pop Music could produce without any prompting from the West. Regarding the lyrics, by Petr Markov – here translated by IMTranslator, with suitable modifications to make better sense of them – I think it can be detected that the Eastern Bloc was no different from the West at the time of the recording of the track (6th March 1974) in that feeling of nostalgia for the ‘olden days’ that seemed to descend on the World.

Jedu městem tramvají jak v divokých snech
Auta kolem houkají a kdekdo má spěch
Město známé kouzlem svým
Souží rámus, smog a dým

I’m going to the city by tram in wild dreams
Cars honk their horns around me and everybody is rushing
A city known for its magic spell
Pesters with noise, smog and smoke

Kde je něžná poezie prastarých míst
Dnes už o ní jenom v knihách můžeme číst
Město známé kouzlem svým
Souží rámus, smog a dým

Where is the gentle poetry of ancient places
Only read about in books today
A city known for its magic spell
Pesters with noise, smog and smoke

Koňskou dráhou toužím jet
A mít bílý klobouk do očí
Koňskou dráhou zašlých let
Kde můj děda býval průvodčím
Koňskou dráhou šťastných dní
Kdy pan Kašpar hlásil – poletím
Koňskou dráhou parádní
Slavně vítat konec století a snít

I long to go on the horse tram
And wear a white hat over my eyes
On the horse tram, bygone years
When my grandfather used to crew
On the horse tram, happy days
When Mr. Kašpar reported – I will fly
On the horse tram, wonderful
Gloriously welcomed the end of the century and to dream

Po chodnících proudí lidí neklidný proud
V přeplněných tramvajích se není kam hnout
Město známé kouzlem svým
Souží rámus, smog a dým
Kde jsou kola nejistá a slamáčky dam
Čas, kdy pojem turista byl nepříliš znám
Město známé kouzlem svým
Souží rámus, smog a dým

On the pavements a torrent of people flows
In the crowded trams there is nowhere to move
A city known for its magic spell
Pesters with noise, smog and smoke
Where the wheels are uncertain and slamáčky dam (this bit didn’t automatically translate!)
The time when the concept of a tourist was not too well-known
A city known for its magic spell
Pesters with noise, smog and smoke

Koňskou dráhou toužím jet
A mít bílý klobouk do očí…

I long to go on the horse tram
And wear a white hat over my eyes. . .

I had also, via YouTube, been aware, in the Summer of 2015, of Valérie Čižmárová’s brief interview with the Presenter, Eduard Pergner, on the talent show, ‘Talent 68’, but it was only in January 2016, when I caught up on the Czech TV site on the documentary on Valérie Čižmárová’s life and work, ‘Příběhy slavných – Léta letí’  (‘Stories Of Fame – Time Flies’) that it was revealed to me that what she was singing on that show was a version of The Kinks’ ‘Sunny Afternoon’, which utterly flabbergasted me. However, it was only in the Summer of 2016, when I’d attended an event at my local cathedral in Derby celebrating fifty years since England won the World Cup, at which ‘Sunny Afternoon’ had been played as part of the ‘mood music’, that, inspired by that, I took another look at ‘Příběhy slavných – Léta letí’ and accidentally turned on the Czech subtitles that it was further revealed to me that (a) she grew up speaking Hungarian in her early years, not Slovak, as I’d imagined (an education in itself on minorities in the former Czechoslovakia) and that (b) amongst her lyrics for what turned out to be entitled ‘Slunný podnebí’ (‘Sunny Weather’), she replaced Ray Davies’ sentiments of a man losing everything after an acrimonious split with his girlfriend with a teenage girl dreaming – on a cold Winter’s day, frantically trying to warm herself up with hot cups of tea – of ‘breakfasting on a kilo of bananas’ on a ‘hot beach’ – thereby chiming with The Mamas & The Papas’ ‘California Dreamin” – hence the title for this Blog….

…which is intended to be the first UK-based Fan Blog of Valérie Čižmárová, to complement Aleš Korábek’s Valérie Čižmárová Fan Site – the man of whom I first became aware thanks to the aforementioned documentary – and the ‘Valérie ČIŽMÁROVÁ’ Facebook Group.

Given that the title of this Blog includes the name of a fruit closely associated with primates it is perhaps fitting that what has emerged as an all-time favourite, as time has gone on since my initial Valérie Čižmárová-related discoveries – and it took until well into the Summer of 2016 to do so – is, despite (a) the aforementioned sense of wonder at what the Eastern Bloc could produce all of its own accord and (b) the song in question not having been recorded in what transpired to be her ‘Glory Year’ of 1973, her cover version (‘Dávno nejsem hloupá’ – ‘I Haven’t Been Crazy For A Long Time’ – recorded on 5th December 1970 – the year she’d only turned eighteen) of a song composed by Harvey Price and Daniel Walsh (‘Sha-La Love You’) improbably for the novelty Bubblegum Pop act of ‘chimpanzees’ played by session musicians, Lancelot Link and The Evolution Revolution. If ever there were any proof that the tired, old, lazy assumption that the Eastern Bloc Pop of that era (if it even existed!) must have involved shabby, poor-quality substitutes of Western originals was so wide of the mark it was untrue, ‘Dávno nejsem hloupá’ is it. This utterly charming performance of ‘Dávno nejsem hloupá’ comes from the 1972 TV show, ‘Písničky ke kávě’ (‘Songs For Coffee Break’). The moment, at the beginning of the song, when Valérie Čižmárová turns to face the camera with a slight smile is one that will live long in the memory and one that would melt even the hardest of hearts.

Here is that moment frozen in time.

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The one bug is that my Czech is not yet quite up to keeping up with Mirek Černý’s lyrics in real time and there is nowhere on the Web where they are written down, so any ‘Bananas For Breakfast’ readers ‘out there’ who have access to those lyrics?

‘Bananas For Breakfast’ will run concurrently with ‘Girls Of The Golden East’, since I have long felt uncomfortable that so much of ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ has been devoted to Valérie Čižmárová….or, to use the more familiar form of her name, as she is affectionately known, Valinka.

So, if you are a ‘Valinker’, as I’d like to coin as the name for a Fan of Valinka, welcome and if you are not, you probably soon will be!

Boldog 40. születésnapot! x 2

‘Čas má rychlý krok’ (‘Time Has A Quick Step’) and ‘On se ti vráti’ (‘He’s Coming Back To You’) are both turning forty today! –  Valérie Čižmárová having recorded these songs at Mozarteum on 18th June 1977.

In the case of the former, the music was composed by Zdeněk Barták, with lyrics from Jaroslav Machek. Instrumental accompaniment came from Studiový orchestr (The Studio Orchestra), under Jan Hrábek, with backing vocals from Bezinky.

In the case of the latter, the music was composed by Miroslav Paleček, with lyrics from Vladimír Poštulka. Instrumental accompaniment came from Pražské smyčce (The Prague Strings), also under Jan Hrábek.

The following two videos featuring ‘Čas má rychlý krok’ come, variously, from ‘Jak se vám líbí’ (‘How Do You Like’), originally broadcast on 5th September 1980 (with an introductory interview with Valinka’s famous fan, the actor, Vladimír Menšík) and ‘Muzikanti, co děláte?’ (‘Musicians, What Are You Doing?’), originally broadcast on 4th November 1995 (with Valinka being interviewed about her life and work by that contemporary female star, Petra Černocká).

It is interesting to note that, if I am translating the Czech correctly, one of the interviewees on ‘Jak se vám líbí’ makes reference to Valinka’s Hungarian-speaking heritage, remarking that she was a pleasant enough singer but that she was Hungarian, surely!

I am wondering how common an impression that was about Valinka amongst the general public of Czechoslovakia – that she somehow wasn’t a ‘proper Czechoslovak’.

Boldog születésnapot! x 2

How can I start today?

Every recording career has got to start sometime and somewhere.

Valérie Čižmárová’s started – aged just seventeen – on 26th May 1969, at Studio Smečky, Prague.

As somebody with a background singing Jazz and who was also a Soul fan, what better way of starting it could there be other than a Jazz treatment of a Soul classic like Bobby Hebb’s self-composed ‘Sunny’?

Valinka would go on to perform virtually all of her recorded repertoire in Czech, but her ‘Sunny’ would kick off proceedings in the language of her native Slovakia, the Slovak-language lyrics being by Ali Brezovský, with instrumental accompaniment coming from the studio’s orchestra under Ivo Moravus.

I would advise BFB readers to check back to see that they weren’t imagining things when they read ‘seventeen’ above after listening to this.

If it were possible, the other very Jazz-flavoured (Czech-language) side of the record, recorded at the same venue with the same personnel, ‘Čekám’ (‘I Am Waiting’) probably makes that ‘seventeen’ yet more unbelievable. The music was by Mojmír Smékal  and the lyrics were by Rostislav Černý and for both ‘Sunny’ and ‘Čekám’ the Producer was Ivan Štědrý.

Here they are, complete with a suitably modified, IMTranslator-based translation.

Řekl, že mě vezme někam, kde prý voní vřes,
a já tady na něj čekám, věrně jako pes.
Slíbil, že mě vezme s sebou
kam se vítr hnal.
Přesto, že mě uši zebou, já čekám dál.

He said he would take me somewhere where the heather smells,
And I’m waiting for him, faithfully like a dog.
He promised to take me with him
Where the wind was blowing.
Despite the ears of my ears, I am waiting.

Proč bych měla nevěřit, když mi řekl, že chce jít,
když mi řekl, že chce jít,
třeba na kraj světa jen a jen se mnou,
on jenom a já, jenom on a já.

Why should not I believe when he tells me he wants to go,
When he told me he wanted to go,
Maybe on the edge of the world just and only with me,
Only him and me, just him and me.

Nejde, ale to se stává, třeba nemá čas,
třeba někde vyběhává na kraj světa pas.
Třeba shání plachetnici
nebo drezínu
a tak čekám na stanici ať ho neminu.

It is not, but it happens, it does not have time,
Maybe somewhere passes to the edge of the world passport.
Maybe sailing a sailboat
Or sailing
So I’m waiting for the station to miss him.

Proč bych měla nevěřit, když mi řekl, že chce jít,
když mi řekl, že chce jít,
třeba na kraj světa jen a jen se mnou,
on jenom a já, jenom on a já.

Why should not I believe when he tells me he wants to go,
When he told me he wanted to go,
Maybe on the edge of the world just and only with me,
Only him and me, just him and me.

Když mi řek, že na kraj světa, nevadí mi mráz,
nejsem ještě plnoletá, mám na všechno čas.
Slíbil, že mě vezme s sebou
kam se vítr hnal.

When I tell you that on the edge of the world, I do not mind the frost,
I’m not yet of age, I have all the time.
He promised to take me with him
Where the wind was blowing.

Ať mě třeba nohy zebou, já čekám dál.
Já, já čekám dál,
já, já čekám dál,
já čekám dál.

May my legs be like me, I’m waiting.
I, I’m waiting,
Me, I’m waiting,
I’m waiting.

Listen and be amazed!

By the way, long before I was fully aware of Valinka’s recording dates (the ‘Čekám’ video is the work of Valinka Fan No. 1…no, it’s no quite yours truly!…’591010710′, AKA Aleš Korábek) and I was listening to this I just assumed that this must have been much later in her career, until that year that was staring me in the face finally dawned on me and I thought, “she’s seventeen!!!”

That’s one serious-looking seventeen-year-old captured by Petr Polák on André Černoušek’s cover!

What have we just discovered???…in Michalovce, of all places!!!

Boldog születésnapot! x 2

Today’s recording date in 1972 marked the beginning of the transition in Valérie Čižmárová’s career from her early days, that happened to coincide with the four academic years of my own junior school days at Long Row School (1968 – 1972), to the peak of her recording career, coinciding with my two academic years of ‘Tom Brown’s Schooldays dreamland’ in the ‘cloisters’ of Herbert Strutt School (1972 – 1974), before the serious business began again at Belper High School. It was also another one of those cases where there was a marked contrast between one side of the record and another.

On one side of Valinka’s sixth single was the seasonal Summery jauntiness of ‘To je léto’ (‘It’s Summer’). On the other, although the sentiments of the lyrics of the original may have been changed substantially, one cannot imagine that her cover – with lyrics by Michael Prostějovský – of Paul McCartney’s protest song, ‘Give Ireland Back To The Irish’, ‘Synu můj’ (‘Son Of Mine’), would have been anything nearly as happy-go-lucky! It also probably showed that the ‘little girl’ was growing up.

I cannot embed ‘Synu můj’ here, unfortunately. I have still not got to hear it even, since it is on nothing playable on-line, although it is featured in the ‘Československé zpěvačky’ series at (please click on the ‘československé zpěvačky’ link down the right-hand side)  ‘Sixties Emporium’ (The third of the series – ‘Halabala’). However, ‘To je léto’ very much is and what is more, there are lyrics…which I shall ‘IMTranslator-ise’, as always, with suitable modifications, if necessary.

The recording venue was  Čs. rozhlas Praha (Czechoslovak Radio Prague),  past which I walked to and from Prague city centre from my hostel during my stay in the country.

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The music was composed by Vladimír Rukavička, with lyrics by Miloslav Procházka. Instrumental accompaniment came from Taneční orchestr Čs. rozhlasu (The Czechoslovak Radio Dance Orchestra), under Josef Vobruba, with backing vocals coming from Sbor Lubomíra Pánka (Lubomír Pánek Singers).

Here are those lyrics by Miloslav Procházka.

Slunce vodu zlatí,
tělu bronzem platí
za důvěru

The sun is burnishing the water,
plating the body with bronze
For trust

Malíř z dětskou školkou
natře nebe šmolkou
bez úvěru

A painter from a kindergarten
Is painting the sky with a slush
Without credit

Řeka loďky houpá
a rtuť líně stoupá
v teploměru

The river boat swings
And mercury rises lazily
In the thermometer

Tlustej pán se potí,
fotí dítka s chotí
dokud loďku nepřekotí.

The drunken man is sweating,
She takes pictures of children with her husband
Until the boat breaks.

REF
To je léto, to je léto, léto v povltaví
To je léto, to je léto, léto mladý věčně hraví
To je léto, to je léto, léto s vůní jív
To je léto, to je léto co má být

REF
It’s summer, it’s summer, summer in the bed
This is summer, summer is summer, summer is always playful
It’s summer, it’s summer, summer with a scent of java
It’s summer, it’s summer to be

Ryby všude berou
jak čerti se perou
o návnadu

Fish take everywhere
How to drain a pen
About bait

Parník vodu čeří
kuchař terce měří
na náladu

The steamer rigs the water
The cook cooks the course
On request

Někdo jede lodí
někdo líhat chodí
na zahradu

Someone is going by boat
Someone is going to mow
In the garden

Kluci jsou tu bosí
nosí písně kosí
dokud louky nepokosí

The boys are barefoot
She wears the song
Until the meadows are intact

REF
To je léto, to je léto, léto v povltaví
To je léto, to je léto, léto mladý věčně hraví
To je léto, to je léto, léto s vůní jív
To je léto, to je léto co má být

REF
It’s summer, it’s summer, summer in the bed
This is summer, summer is summer, summer is always playful
It’s summer, it’s summer, summer with a scent of java
It’s summer, it’s summer to be
It’s summer, it’s summer to be

 

 

‘Bananas For Breakfast’ updated

I have added Google+, my Myspace GOTGE Mix and my (as yet, still embryonic!) YouTube Channel to the row of social media icons in the BFB heading, with the ‘health warning’ that, in the course of setting up the GOTGE Mix back in the Summer of last year, I encountered four Valérie Čižmárová songs that somehow became entered under the wrong title. Here are the offending items, followed by, in parenthesis, the songs that they in fact really are.

‘Huascarán’ (‘Tikot všech hodin’)

‘Žár léta’ (‘Čekám’)

‘Náhodou’ (‘Potlesk’)

‘Sunny’ (‘Léta letí’)

I hope the wrong titles don’t spoil your enjoyment of playing the GOTGE Mix! (Which will, no doubt, be added to as time goes by)

Boldog születésnapot! x 2

Yesterday, two Valérie Čižmárová recording ‘birthdays’ were separated by a matter of half a decade. Today, we have another two, but this time separated by just one year…and remarkably, those recordings ended up on either side of the same disc, making it a perhaps unique instance of the recording of one side of a 45 being separated by such a margin of time from the recording of the other (see below for a ‘health warning’ on this information). Furthermore, there could not be much of a greater contrast between those two songs.

I will start with the first of these sides, then work back one year, commencing with a series of photos of the architecturally very pleasing recording venue for both, (Mozarteum, Jungmannova, Prague, designed by Jan Kotěra), which I visited back in January. In the first of these, Mozarteum is the red-roofed building on the right-hand side, to the viewer, of Jungmannova.

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On 4th May 1973, Valinka recorded ‘Důkaz mi dej’ (in recently released compilations, with the ‘mi’ and ‘dej’ transposed in the title) (‘Prove It To Me’), which was a cover of a record originally by The Archies, ‘Who’s Your Baby’, with music by Jeff Barry and Andy Kim, with Czech-language lyrics by František Klečka, to the accompaniment of Skupina Svatopluka Čecha (The Svatopluk Čech Group).

Here are František Klečka’s lyrics, together with a translation, based on output from the automatic translation application, IMTranslator.

Důkaz dej mi, důkaz který má
Váhu vláhy nad pouští

Prove it to me, evidence which has
The weight of moisture over the desert

Důkaz dej mi, důkaz mě zajímá
Mě štěstím rozum opouští

Prove it to me, I need you to do it
I sense happiness is leaving

Kdekdo myslí bůhví jak jsi bohatý
Že máš v bance nejmíň milión
Věř mi láska všechno zlato přeplatí
Hledám ve Tvých očích Orion

Everybody thinks God knows how you’re rich
That you have at least a million in the bank
Trust me, love is worth all that gold
I’m looking for Orion in your eyes

Důkaz dám Ti, důkaz dej mi
Důkaz, který má
Váhu vláhy nad pouští
Ten důkaz dám Ti
Ten důkaz dej mi
Důkaz mě zajímá
Mě štěstím rozum opouští

I’ll prove it to you, prove it to me
Evidence that has
The weight of moisture over the desert
I’ll prove it to you
Prove it to me
I need you to do it
I sense happiness is leaving

Prstýnek bys mohl dát mi z kapradí
Kroužek prostý jaký právě máš
Kapradí to stěží zlato nahradí
Ale Ty mi něhu k němu dáš

The ring you could give me from a fern
A simple ring is just what you have
Ferns are hardly a substitute for gold
But you do not give tenderness to her

Píseň otázkou končím
Naposled se Tě ptám
Je snad zlatý kdo se zlatem chlubí
Na to se Tě ptám

The song is nearing its end
It’s the last time I ask you
Is it perhaps gold that boasts of gold
That’s what I ask

Důkaz dej, důkaz mě zajímá …

Prove it to me, I need you to do it. . .

It was a YouTube compilation of the ‘Top Twenty Czechoslovak Soul’ by Hana Blažeková via which I first became aware of ‘Důkaz mi dej’ (which, much to my shame, I had to look into to establish its surprising Archies-related origins) circa a year ago and seeing that the one who kicked off my former Eastern Bloc vinyl collecting was a part of that compilation was almost needless to say very exciting. It also was the first time it began to occur to me what a (really) great voice Valinka had. I have subsequently encapsulated it as the raw power of Lulu, the ‘Blackness’ of Dusty Springfield and the gorgeous richness of Helen Shapiro, thereby combining three of the greats of the Britain of the 1960s. Valinka was often compared with two contemporaries, both of whom have now prematurely departed this Earth, Věra Špinarová and Jana Robbová, who were, like Valinka, small of physical stature but gigantic of voice. However, it was certainly conceded by the first of these that she envied Valinka’s voice – probably because when she really opened up and turned on that power the voice stayed smooth and rich, without developing a metallic edge. In any language, ‘Důkaz mi dej’ has to go down as one of the greatest Soul songs ever committed to vinyl and if Valinka did see herself as in competition with the aforementioned, as the fade-out, with Valinka singing ‘na, na, na, na-na’, began I’m sure she’d have been thinking, “job done! now let’s have some fun!”

Going back in time by exactly one year, let us now consider the other side of that disc. If you thought ‘Důkaz mi dej’ was epic ‘Huascarán’ probably tops it with the story behind it.

On 31st May 1970, (my mother’s 40th and my sister-in-law’s 5th birthday), fifteen Czechoslovak mountaineers lost their lives during an expedition climbing Huascarán, in the Peruvian Andes, together with more than twenty thousand Peruvians, as a result of the effects of the Ancash Earthquake. Here is a list of the mountaineers lost.

It was decided, as an act of memorial, to record a song and whom should be chosen to do justice to the scale of this event but a pretty, twenty-year-old blonde…as if to say that Valinka’s voice was indeed the best, even at that young age….

…which would be a good opportunity, here, to inject the following words of caution regarding Valinka’s age at the time of the recording of ‘Huascarán’.

One of the contributory factors in the build-up to my setting up the sister Blog to ‘Bananas For Breakfast’, ‘Girls Of The Golden East’, was the story of the former Pop Star, now Radio Host, from France, Carene/Karen Cheryl / Isabelle Morizet, who, incidentally, shares my Birthday of 19th July. In the early years of my acquaintance over cyberspace with her story I was so confident that the vast majority of the Web-based sources that had her birth date as that date in 1955 were unquestionably correct. However, gradually, as more primary sources without the filter of the Web (which, after all, is compiled by error-prone human beings!) came to my attention, that birth year began not to add up at all and I concluded from what I was learning that it must have been two years into the future. I don’t know who was responsible for putting out that bit of duff information that spread like wildfire around the Web, but they have an awful lot for which to answer, not least, fans of Isabelle’s congratulating her on her ’60th Birthday’ when she’d just turned fifty-eight! I don’t want, myself, to be part of spreading around a similar false rumour!

If one reads the translation of the magazine article below one will note that there is a reference to Valinka working with The Svatopluk Čech Group since January of the year of the publication of that article (1973). If that is so that would not tally with ‘Huascarán’, like ‘Důkaz mi dej’, being to the accompaniment of that group in early May of 1972.

Now let us imagine the following ‘reality’ (I use the quotation marks advisedly) on the ground.

We are recording a tribute to mark the anniversary of the deaths of these mountaineers, so what do we do?

We record the tribute song…and then we wait until a date exactly one year hence before we get around to recording the other side of the 45 and then we release it.

Does this sound logical? Does this sound like a genuine tribute to the memories of those mountaineers, not to mention the many, many thousands of locals who perished?

I should imagine that the answers to both those questions would be in the negative in the minds of most.

I suspect that somebody made a slip on a keyboard, entering a ‘2’ instead of a ‘3’ at the end of ‘197’, put that information out on the Web, realised that they’d made an error, but didn’t own up to it and hoped that it would all blow over in the end.

So, all in all, unless any BFB readers come forward backing up the incredible tale of the respective recording dates of two sides of a 45 being separated by exactly one year, I am going to question what I have written above and state the actual recording date as 4th May Nineteen-Seventy-Three.

It’s still a pretty impressive performance by a twenty-one-year-old!

As in the case of ‘Důkaz mi dej’, accompaniment came from Skupina Svatopluka Čecha. The music was by Vladimír Rukavička and the lyrics were by Petr Markov, with a recital of the events surrounding the tragedy read by Mirek Černý.

Here are Petr Markov’s lyrics and recital text, together with an IMTranslator translation, in places suitably modified.

Mirek Černý:

Ve čtvrtek 23. dubna 1970 odcestovala z Prahy do Limy výprava československých horolezců vedená doktorem Arnoštem Černíkem. Jejím cílem byl vrchol nejvyšší peruánské hory Huascarán.

On Thursday, April 23, 1970, the Czechoslovak climbers headed by Dr. Arnošt Cernik traveled from Prague to Lima. Its goal was the summit of the highest Peruvian mountain Huascaran.

Valérie Čižmárová:

Od horských pramenů
Huascarán,
nejtěžší z kamenů
na prsou mám.
Přichází z úbočí,
kde zvoní cepín tvůj,
v slzách se rozmočí,
až se vrátíš, drahý můj.

From mountain springs
Huascarán,
The hardest of the stones
I have my breasts.
It comes from the slopes,
Where your bowl rings,
Tears in tears,
When you come back, my dear.

S odvahou zázraků,
nese se tvůj stín,
k stříbrným oblakům,
a ještě výš.
Já však jsem zbabělá
a tonu v obavách,
čekám tě, lásko má,! Vrat se živ a zdrav.

With the courage of miracles,
Your shadow is carried,
To the silver clouds,
And even higher.
But I’m cowardly
And in fear,
I’m waiting for you, my love! Come back alive and healthy.

Mirek Černý:

V neděli 31. května – večer postihlo jihoamerickou republiku Peru katastrofální zemětřesení, které si vyžádalo desítky tisíc lidských životů. Ve sněhových masách nedaleko jezera Llanganuco, zmizela výprava československých horolezců, kteří sem přijeli pokořit nejvyšší horu peruánských And Huascarán.

On Sunday, May 31 – the night, the South American Republic of Peru suffered a catastrophic earthquake that claimed tens of thousands of lives. In the snowmobiles near Lake Llanganuco, the expedition of Czechoslovak climbers disappeared here, who came to humble the highest mountain of the Andes, Huascarán.

Valérie Čižmárová:

Od horských pramenů…

From mountain springs …

Recently, Jana Bajerová, a fellow Member of the ‘Valérie ČIŽMÁROVÁ’ Facebook Group, uploaded a fascinating insight into the way that Valinka was reported on at the height of her recording career in 1973 out of the in-house magazine of the Communist Young Pioneers, ‘Sedmičky pionýrů’, in which both ‘Důkaz mi dej’ and ‘Huascarán’ are mentioned.

VČ_SP_1973_Article_Front

VČ_SP_1973_Article_Back

I tried seeing how much of it I could translate without the aid of the aforementioned IMTranslator, (with the exception of the word kreslení – drawing). Here is how far I got, showing that I am making progress in understanding Czech (not forgetting Slovak…Valinka’s native Hungarian is next!). There was one paragraph (the penultimate one) that, despite understanding several individual words, utterly defeated me in terms of making sentences out of it. There are also a few dotted lines where I didn’t get anywhere.

Do you like children and fairy tales?

I like small children and fairy tales too, because I still am a sort of child. And up to now I still like being read fairy tales.

Which one of your songs do you like most? And which one brings back the best memories?

I had my biggest success with the song ‘Léta letí’. And which one did I like singing the best? Perhaps the one which was my very first – ‘Sunny’. I sing it to this day.

What songs have you released or are you releasing on record?

I am recording for Supraphon. In the past few days I have released ‘Důkaz mi dej’ and ‘Huascarán’. The latter is devoted to the anniversary of the tragedy of the Czechoslovakian mountaineers in Peru. On the following record I performed original Czech material by the composers Vítězslav Hádl, Ladislav Pikart and Zdeněk Němeček, with lyrics by Petr Markov – ‘V poschodí pátém’ and ‘Malý princ’, based on the eponymous book by Saint-Exupéry. I am due to perform the first one in an appearance on the TV Hitparade of Bratislava.

Are you already making plans for your first LP?

Perhaps it is already in the shops. There is a block of old successful songs on it, based on ‘Koko’, ‘Léta letí’, ‘Sunny’ and another three tracks of foreign origin.All the rest of the songs will be original Czech material.

Have you always wanted to be a singer? What did you want to be when you were little?

From the age of four I went to the ballet and my family…….I went to the conservatoire. It was only at school that I started to sing. I took part in various contests and singing began to interest me more than ballet. Eventually, I stuck with singing and I don’t regret it.

……….on your home town, Michalovce?

In the little town where I was born……and in the time when I won the contest, Talent 68 I had an offer from the Rokoko Theatre and departed to Prague. From this time I don’t demonstrate one single preference. Even if I didn’t go and perform in Slovakia, I record for television and sing in Slovak. In the course of my travels I always think of my native Michalovce or its immediate surroundings.

Did you enjoy learning at school? And what presented you with the most difficulties?

I enjoyed singing, drawing and handicrafts. That which presented the most difficulties – in the more senior years, at any rate – was Physics.

Did you or do you take part in any sport?

I went to the ballet, but that doesn’t count as a sport. I did, however, do figure skating for about five years. Now there isn’t time for that any more, only five minutes’ exercise at home. Alternatively, in Winter, I might have time to go skating on the Štvanice.

Where and with whom are you singing at the moment?

From January this year the Svatopluk Čech Group has worked with me. Under the direction of Václav Junek I have appeared in a two-hour-long show called ‘Valérie 73′. With this we are touring around the whole of the Republic, the Prague première is scheduled for September at the Rokoko. My guest on the programme is the young singer from Plzen, Miroslav Hajšman.

And you are also going abroad?

I have made contact with the artists’ agency, Pragokoncert. At the moment there is the prospect of tours to the DDR and Poland.

What do you do when you have some spare time?

I like cooking. And when there is a little more time – this would be only occasionally – I read a lot.

Who are your favourites?

Of authors – Lion Feuchtwanger. Of actors – I like Louis de Funès. And singers? There would be a lot of them. Aretha Franklin, Tom Jones, Jimi Hendrix…

(Penultimate paragraph)

Do you like animals? And do you have any at home?

I always mainly really longed for a certain kind of dog. I talked about it with my husband and he chose and bought for me a white poodle last Christmas. It is an eight-month-old bitch and she is called Čika. When we are going on long tours, Mum looks after her. On shorter journeys or….she travels with us – sits quietly and listens.

(Valinka is, FYI, pictured with the aforementioned Čika…in the same black and white polka dot trouser suit as seen in the first of the photos in the article…that I think would still be very fashionable today)

Given her mention of ‘Aretha Franklinová’ (I love the way that foreign female personalities have ‘-ová’ appended to their names, making them just a little bit Czech/Slovak!) and Tom Jones you can see how, given those influences, Valinka was such an incredible Soul singer.

I also like her, to say the least, ‘unconventional’ choices of ‘Favourite Author’ and ‘Favourite Actor’. It wouldn’t have been the usual sort of response to those questions by a star in a magazine like ‘Jackie’!

This is no ‘average’ Pop Star!

On the top of a mountain, gazing down at all the rest!

…and finally, if that ‘Valérie 73’ was a TV programme and was available on YouTube, that would be quite some video to embed in BFB!

Boldog születésnapot! x 2

Followers of ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ will have been familiar with my practice of wishing a ‘Happy Birthday!’, in Valérie Čižmárová’s native language of Hungarian, to any of her recordings on that date thanks to the record of recording dates on Aleš Korábek’s Valérie Čižmárová Fan Site, which I have subsequently discovered is itself partly thanks to the record of recording dates on the Supraphonline site. This practice is to be continued in BFB.

Just as I have now decided to transpose the ‘About’ page of BFB and the initial post – on the basis that, on reflection, the original initial post was actually a bit more like an ‘About’ page and the original ‘About’ page was more like a full post – we encounter the first of these ‘birthdays’ – in this case, two, separated by half a decade.

On 3rd May 1974, at Čs. rozhlas (Czechoslovak Radio), Prague, Valinka recorded ‘Pokloň se, lásko’ (‘Love, Take A Bow’). Music and lyrics were by Jan Hrábek. Accompaniment came from Václav Zahradník se svým orchestrem (Václav Zahradník and his Orchestra) and backing vocals came from Sbor Lubomíra Pánka (The Lubomír Pánek Singers).

Five years later, to the day, at the studios at Dejvice, Prague, Valinka recorded ‘Žádný ptáčník nemá křídla’ (a double negative title, ‘No Birdwatcher Has No Wings’, which might better be translated as ‘Every Birdwatcher Has Wings’). Music was by Jaromír Klempíř and lyrics were by Jaroslav Machek. Accompaniment came from Taneční orchestr Čs. rozhlasu (The Czechoslovak Radio Dance Orchestra), under Josef Vobruba and, as above, backing vocals came from Sbor Lubomíra Pánka.

In one GOTGE post I made reference to a notional Gold, Silver and Bronze ‘podium’ at the Eurovision Song Contest. At the Bratislavská Lýra (Bratislava Lyre) festival there actually was a Gold, Silver and Bronze Lyre awarded and at the 1979 edition thereof Valinka achieved a career highlight by winning Bronze with ‘Žádný ptáčník nemá křídla’.

There is a book in the house, out of the excellent Octopus Books series of wildlife and nature books, of which we have quite a few, which very nicely ties in with the aforementioned recordings. It is ‘A Colour Guide To Familiar Garden And Field Birds, Eggs And Nests’, by Jiří Felix, with illustrations by Květoslav Hísek, published originally in Valinka’s ‘glory year’ of 1973 in Czechoslovakia, by Artia, Prague, translated by Olga Kuthanová, with graphic design by Soňa Valoušková – evidently first published in the United Kingdom just one week before the recording of ‘Pokloň se, lásko’. I have tracked down most of those Octopus books, but the one I’d really like to find in the piles of books all around the house is ‘Woods And Forests’, which would have actual photographs taken probably in the woods and forests of Czechoslovakia. So, that is another pre-existing contact with things from that country – many of those books coming from the height of Valinka’s recording career.

As one will have gathered, today’s ‘birthday’ has been all about power ballads…and what power Valinka did bring to the table! Things are going to speed up just a little bit tomorrow 😉